It is an old expression by now in basketball and it goes like this "You live by the 3 and you will die by the 3". Many of us are not old enough to remember that the 3 point shot has not always been a part of the sport of basketball. It something you need to keep in mind when you evaluate the players of today. For instance Vince Carter recently passed 20,000 points. He has 1,368 made 3 pointers 681 of those as a Raptor. If the shot did not exist you could minus that 1,368 from his point total. But more to the point in his career he is 37.5% from behind the arc and 44.5% overall. Almost any player your care to research will have a higher FG% than 3% and it is just common sense. The closer you are able to get to the basket the more likely you are to make a shot. Also if you think back to his Raptor career what was one of criticisms of Carter. Well yeah his overall toughness and heart. But he was also taken to task for not driving as much as he did early in his career and settling for 3 point shots.
So why have we applauded this team for basically doing the same thing in keeping this streak alive? I did the research last night and shared it on Twitter. The Raptors record during this 986 game streak is 445-541 that is only a .451 winning percentage. Overall below .500 and yet it is celebrated like it means something. Yes it is an NBA record but where does it rank in significance? I would suggest that it is not to high. Do you think Mark Cuban will make such a big deal if his Mavericks eventual pass the Raptors and take over this streak? Mark Cuban only wants one thing and cares about one thing and that is an NBA Championship. It always should be about winning. Records of any kind are insignificant if they are not attached to winning.
While many have lamented at the fact that Demar DeRozan is not a capable three point shooter it is something that concerns me far less. In his career he has only attempted 41 times from 3 point range and converted just 6 times for a percentage that is 14.6%. I will admit that needs to improve but it is not life and death. Here is what you should be excited about in terms of DeRozan. Last season he got to the free throw line 194 times and already this season just past the half way mark has got there 225 times. He has converted 323 times overall when getting to that line. That adds up to 77.1% free throw percentage. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Making a free throw is far more likely than it is making a three point shot. Sure DeRozan eventually will need to be able to make a 3 point shot but the fact he can consistently get to the line will serve the Raptors far more than even if he became a respectable three point shooter.
The Raptors for years have become dependent on the 3 point shoot and this streak for me was a symbol of that dependence. When you look at the limited amount of success the Raptors have had you can say they have died many more times by the three than they have lived by it. Even in terms of guys like Kleiza and Bargnani we should want to see them post up more and take quality shots. While the 3 point shot can be and effective weapon in the sport of basketball it should be used more economically in terms of offence. Less attempts and more quality attempts. That is a path to consistent performance and ultimately more wins.
Some have said that this streak was all the Raptors had and represents some form of accomplishment. Sorry but look up next time at the ACC and find that one Division Championship banner. That is an accomplishment that is based on winning. This three point streak is more like having perfect attendance in school. It is great you showed up for school everyday. But if you don't learn anything when you are there does it mean anything? That is in essence what this 3 point streak is and was.