Steph Curry

Steph Curry’s amazing range has changed the NBA. Teams across the league are creating “4-point lines” in practice to help replicate the spacing Curry naturally provides for the Golden State Warriors.

Out of all of the great players roaming the courts in today’s NBA, it is nearly impossible to deny that Steph Curry has had the greatest impact on the style of play across the league.

An article by ESPN’s Malika Andrews chronicles a growing trend across the league that was undoubtedly influenced by the success of Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Numerous teams have added deep-range “4-point” lines/zones to the courts at their practice facilities.

No, the move is not a nod to Ice Cube’s Big 3 league. The NBA is not changing the rulebook to include four-point shots. However, coaches have noticed that as more players become competent at knocking down the deep ball, it creates space and opportunity for players who can attack the basket.

According to Andrews, the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks are the teams currently known to employ the special zones in practice. The Bucks currently seem to be benefitting the most from the strategy.

The Bucks are currently tied for the league lead with the Houston Rockets with 405 three-pointers made (14 per game) this season. Last season, the Bucks finished 27th. The spacing created by Bucks’ shooters has let Giannis Antetokounmpo, a poor three-point shooter, run wild through the lanes.

At the time of Andrews’ article, Antetokounmpo had more than twice as many unassisted dunks (55) than the next person on the list (Rudy Gobert at 23).

The strategy also makes sense for the Hawks, whose star player is Trae Young, the Great Value version of Curry. As the rookie gets more consistent with his deep-range shots, it will bring the defense out further, opening more opportunities to get to the rack for layups and lobs.

While it does not appear that the Warriors utilize the “4-point line,” the defending champs don’t need to. With Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant in the starting lineup, the Warriors offense is a legitimate threat to score the moment the ball crosses half court.

Though it’s unlikely another team will assemble such a deadly trio of deep threats, it appears that 30-foot shots in transition are here today. It used to be that coaches would instantly bench a player for shooting a jump shot more than two or three feet behind the three-point line. Now it seems that we are closer to a time where players won’t see the court unless they can knock down shots from the parking lot.

When that moment comes, you can thank “Video Game Steph” for changing the game.

‘Biggest bust in NBA history’?

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith recently called the Philadelphia 76ers’ Markelle Fultz “the biggest bust in NBA history.” While it may be more than a bit premature to make such an outlandish statement, there’s no denying that the executives in the 76ers front office are kicking themselves for trading up to select Fultz over players like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum.

Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz has recently been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Will the Philadelphia 76ers give him a chance to recover or has the team given up on the No. 1 overall pick from the 2017 draft?

Fultz appeared in just 14 games during his rookie season, averaging 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds. This season has been more of the same, with averages of 8.2 points, 3.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds. The worst part is that Fultz’ jump shot has completely fallen apart, with a hitch as bad as Charles Barkley’s golf swing.

The 76ers’ medical staff couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Many armchair physicians fans diagnosed him with “the yips” aka Rick Ankiel disease. After seeking outside medical opinions, Fultz was recently diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve condition that affects the lower neck and upper chest.

Several reports have appeared that suggest that Philly is ready to move on from the top pick of the 2017 draft. It’s unlikely though that the 76ers could get much of anything in return for Fultz at this time. The team’s best hope is that Fultz’s current regiment of physical therapy will resolve his physical issues and he can return to the court as a productive player.

If the team was a bottom-feeder, the staff could throw Fultz in the deep end and wait for him to sink or swim. However, with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, the Sixers have championship aspirations and is likely unwilling to baby a player the team expected to turn into a bona fide superstar.

In my opinion, there is no way Fultz is the biggest bust in NBA history. He’s not even the biggest bust in his own draft. That distinction goes to the New York Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina. Ntilikina was drafted eighth in the 2017 draft, just before the Dennis Smith Jr. At least Fultz has shown some moderate production and his issues can be traced to a medical problem. Ntilkina has been about as effective as a potato even though, as far as I know, he has a clean bill of health.

Oakland sues the NFL

Less than two years after St. Louis officials filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Rams and the NFL, city officials in Oakland are filing a similar suit against the NFL and the Oakland Raiders.

According to The Mercury News, Oakland is alleging that the Raiders and the NFL violated federal antitrust laws in relation to the team’s upcoming move to Las Vegas.

“The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league’s own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city,” Parker said in a statement. “The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill.”

That language sounds extremely familiar of what St. Louis went through with the Rams. That should come as no surprise though as Berg & Androphy, the same law firm that helped St. Louis win a victory over the Rams is court, is also assisting in the Oakland law suit.

Just like in the St. Louis situation, there’s zero chance that the Raiders will reverse course and stay in the city. However, city officials are hoping to recoup some of the lost funding since the NFL once again violated its own relocation policy to chase the brighter lights and bigger bucks.

Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @ishcreates. For Sports Break videos with Ishmael and Melvin Moore, subscribe to The St. Louis American’s YouTube page.

Ishmael H. Sistrunk is a columnist and the website coordinator for the St. Louis American and www.stlamerican.com.

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