Posted by Neil Paine on June 29, 2009
No, that title shouldn't be interpreted as a particularly butchered way of writing "The 223 Club"... It's about guys who made at least 220 3-point field goals in a single season.
This past season, Rashard Lewis of your Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic made exactly 220 3-point baskets, good for the top spot on the league's long-distance leaderboard. In fact, not only was it the NBA's top mark, it was actually the second straight season that Lewis made more than 220 threes, as he had already knocked down 226 bombs in 2008. Now, making 220 3-pointers in any given season is quite a feat in and of itself -- it's only been done 18 times in NBA history, by 13 different players -- but two seasons (consecutively, no less) is an accomplishment of even greater proportions.
In 2008-09, Lewis became just the 5th player all-time to notch multiple seasons of 220 or more trifectas, and only the third to do it in back-to-back campaigns. The other two come with caveats: Mookie Blaylock accomplished the feat in 1996 & '97, 2 of the 3 seasons in which the league used a shortened 3-point arc (uniformly 22 feet all around, as opposed to 23'9" straight-on and 22' in the corners today); outside of the 22-foot years, during which he averaged 217 3FG a season, Mookie never made more than 118 treys in any single year. And Antoine Walker, the only other back-to-back 220 club member, got his threes mostly on volume shooting -- he hoisted 1248 attempts from deep in 2001 & '02, but made just 35.5% of them. By contrast, Lewis combined to made 40.3% of his triples in 2008 & '09, and his 41.0% mark in 2008 was the 9th-best among seasons with at least 220 made 3-point field goals (6th if you discount the years when the arc was shortened). So, really, Lewis actually stands in a class by himself in terms of the best consecutive 220+ 3-pointer seasons of all time.
However, life in the 220 club's fast lane seems to be pretty short-lived. In the 18 220-3FG seasons ever, the players averaged 234 threes per season and made 40.1% of their shots from deep. In the following season, though, the same players averaged only 153 3FG, and their 3FG% dropped to 37.5%, even including players like Blaylock, Dennis Scott, & George McCloud, whose follow-up seasons came with the 22-foot arc. Lewis already bucked the trend once by reaching the 220-triple mark for the second season in a row, but regression to the mean and changing circumstances (goodbye, Hedo Turkoglu?) will make his bid for a third straight 220+ campaign extremely difficult. In other words, you should take some time to appreciate what Lewis did over the last two years, because you may not see it again from him -- or someone else, for that matter -- any time soon.