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The Art of a Beautiful Game

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There is just one small problem with this scenario: It’s dead wrong.

During the 1960-61 season, for example, NBA teams shot a collective 41.5 percent – and did so without the temptation of a 3-point line. Last season, the NBA average was 45.9 percent with a 3-point line. And, yes, more shots were attempted per game then rather than today. Even if the argument is made that the percentage was lower in 1960 because more shots were attempted, remember the lack of a 3-point shot – a temptress for lower-percentage shooting.

Throughout his NBA travels, Ballard uses the insight of players as the jumping-off point for exploring a certain aspect of the game. For rebounds and shot-blocking, it’s Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who battles the temptation to focus more on scoring at the expense of his defensive technique, embodying the NBA’s dilemma and perception at once.

Ballard turns to Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets for perspective on life as a defensive stopper, a demanding, unsung role requiring endless preparation and study — and noticed only when things go wrong. Guard the best player every night, work hard, see yourself on ESPN highlights – not for making a key stop – but only when Kobe or LeBron lights you up for 40 big ones.

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