Dennis Scott drilled 267 three-pointers in the 1995/96 season, setting an NBA record which stood for a decade until Ray Allen bested it by two treys. And Scott, who still embraces the "3-D" nickname he used during his playing days, remains the Orlando Magic's all-time leader in three-pointers. So there are few people on the planet more qualified to attest to the value of the three-point shot than Scott.
The NBA TV analyst, who retired from playing after the 1999/2000 season, addressed that subject Friday night before the Orlando Magic's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was on hand for a ceremony in his honor as the Magic celebrate their 25th anniversary.
"Rick Kamla, who I work with at NBA TV, calls me 'The Pioneer,'" Scott said. "At the time I was like, 'I don't want that over my head,' because I wasn't the first person to make a three-point shot. And he said, 'no, but you're the first person who made the three-point shot relevant.' And after I thought about it, I was like, 'yeah, you're kinda right.'"
Scott reflected on his days at Georgia Tech under coach Bobby Cremins, saying that during one of his first practices as a Yellow Jacket, he confused the coach by pulling up for a 24-footer on a three-on-two fast-break.
"He goes, 'what are you doing? Oh, wait, good shot,'" Scott said. His proficiency in hitting transition triples led to Cremins making it part of his offense, and Scott says he sees his influence at the college and NBA levels. Though selling Magic coach Matt Guokas on the value of the three, Scott said, Brian Hill, who succeeded Guokas at Orlando's helm, needed more convincing.
The league changed as a result. In Scott's rookie season, three-pointers accounted for just 8.2 percent of all field-goal attempts league-wide. By the time he retired, that figure had more than doubled to 16.7 percent. And through Thursday's games in the 2013/14 season, it stood at 25.4 percent. He sees the influence he had throughout the league, even in Orlando.
"And now you see guys in college and the NBA, we call it the rim run, either the power forward or the center runs straight to the rim. You see Nik Vučević and Big Baby [Glen Davis] do it now. You run straight to the rim, the defense sucks in, you see Arron Afflalo fade out, you see other shooters fade out. Now Jameer comes and kicks it.
"Every team now is looking for a guy or two that can stretch the defense."
In "The Pioneer," the Magic had that guy for seven seasons. And his influence has certainly paved the way for many other similarly skilled shooters to space the floor for them for years to come.