Knights live and die by 3-pointers

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Knights live and die by 3-pointers

For basketball teams thin on big forwards, 3-pointers can make or break a game. When shots from beyond the arc fall with regularity, wins follow - but when shooters are off their mark, expect to lose.

The Seoul SK Knights is one such team that depends heavily on 3-point shots. The Knights lead the league with an average of 21.4 3-point attempts per game. SK already had one of the smallest lineups in the KBL to start the season, but injuries to forwards Kim Min-soo and Bang Sung-yoon left the team even shorter. So, the Knights have had to depend more on 3-pointers and high-scoring forward Terrence Leather.

On Wednesday night against the Busan KT Sonicboom, the Knights threw up 30 3-point shots in a humiliating 89-67 loss. But the Knights are first in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage at 38.2 per game.

In most cases, fewer regular field-goal attempts means a team is one-dimensional and easier to defend. SK’s head coach Shin Sun-woo has one theory on why his team can’t help but shoot from beyond the arc.

“If Leather drives to the basket, 80 percent of the time, opposing defenses will double-team him,” said Shin.

The coach suggested Leather look for open teammates when he finds himself double-teamed.

“We would be doing better as a team if he averaged about five assists per game. But Leather doesn’t look to kick out to his teammates and merely focuses on trying to score on his own,” said Shin.

“The other players attempt to position themselves in open spaces, but knowing that a pass is not coming their way, end up as spectators on the perimeter,” he added.

Leather is averaging 21.9 points and 1.8 assists per game. His assist numbers are not bad for a forward, but for a team already lacking in size, Leather has become the only viable option in the low post for the Knights.

As a result, the Knights have been inconsistent this season. On Dec. 19, the Knights connected on 15 3-pointers to defeat the Seoul Samsung Thunders, 92-90.

In contrast, the Knights sunk merely six of their 30 attempts from beyond the arc on Wednesday.


By Kim Woo-cheol [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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