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Here’s Why Everyone Is Keeping Score in Pickup Basketball Games Wrong [VIDEO]

Do you keep score in your pickup games using 1- and 2-point shots rather than 2- and 3-point shots? Because you shouldn’t. Why, you ask? Because of math.

All across the country, in cities from New York to Chicago to L.A. to Houston, in driveways, in community gyms, pickup hoops games have pretty much the same rules. Sure, there are variations here and there (what score you play to, what’s an acceptable foul to call, etc.), but one thing that’s more or less standard wherever you go is that shots behind the arc count for 2 points and anything inside is worth 1 point.

But if you think about it, that’s just dumb. Making arc shots worth twice as much as interior shots, rather than being worth 50 percent more, drastically skews their value upward. There’s really not much point in even bothering with an interior shot if it’s only worth 1 point, unless you can guarantee yourself a layup or dunk every time. But since you usually can’t, what you should be doing is taking threes — sorry, twos — every possession, even if you only make them 28 percent of the time (which apparently is the average conversion rate in pickup games; see the video).

If everyone scored pickup games like any organized game does — that is, by twos and threes — the natural, appropriate shot values would apply. With twos and threes, there is balance, with the moderately higher risk of a three-point shot stacked against the moderately lower reward of a two.

(And keep in mind that shooting twos rather than threes is fine, as long as you’re not chucking up long-distance twos. Man, that’s just stupid basketball. If you want to take a long-distance shot, fine, just step back behind the arc like a thinking person.)

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