Richard Jefferson spent 17 seasons playing in the NBA and was one of the best players during his prime. Jefferson started his NBA career in New Jersey in 2001, and he retired as a Denver Nugget in 2018.
The NBA champion has seen the league go through many changes during his playing career, and that is what he spoke about on his “Road Trippin'” podcast:
“I wanted to wake up and dunk on people. Me hitting seven threes might make SportsCenter. If caught a body, that was going to be No. 1, No. 2, top five, that’s what I wanted to do,” Jefferson said. “So, I like the era where that’s what people were trying to do. That was the goal.
“Now, they don’t even sprints for dunks in transition. They’re like run out to the 3-point line.”
The NBA has drastically changed in the past two decades. Besides rule changes, the league has gravitated towards long-range shooting.
Richard Jefferson has seen many changes
When Richard Jefferson was drafted, the league looked different than it looks now. Today’s NBA is all about 3-point shooting, and each team has long-range specialists.
Steph Curry revolutionized basketball with his limitless range. There were many great shooters before Curry, but he’s the one who took 3-point shooting to the next level.
Jefferson contends that players don’t run in transition trying to dunk on their opponents. While that happens from time to time, it’s a thing of the past. Instead, players prefer to spot up at the 3-point line and hit a three.
The former NBA player went through a lot of changes himself. He went from being a starter to being a bench player. He also knows what it feels like to miss the playoffs, but also what it takes to win it all.
NBA has drastically changed in the past few decades
During Jefferson’s first season in the NBA, teams averaged 13.7 3-pointers per game. This number kept steadily increasing over the years, but it’s nowhere close to what the league is averaging now.
Last season, NBA teams shot 35.2 long-range shot attempts, the most in the league’s history. This was the 11th straight season in which the 3-point record was broken, so the number is expected to further increase.
It’s also interesting to point out that teams shoot three free throws fewer than in Jefferson’s rookie year. This is another proof that most players prefer to spot up for a 3-pointer rather than attack the rim.
It appears that the era of amazing slashers, like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, may have come to an end. Today’s NBA values 3-point shooters much more, and such players are much more valuable as they don’t get injured often yet provide valuable spacing.