The three-point shot has become a centerpiece of basketball. Even though shooters typically aren’t as tall, strong or athletic as their peers, they can make just as much (or even more) of an impact on a game, particularly in today’s NBA.
The three-point shot stretches the defense, creating driving lanes for guards, and in recent years we’ve seen a new era of the stretch-four. These days (with a few exceptions) teams want a power forward who can shoot from mid-to-long range. The three-point line can swing games as a player can get hot and knock down several in a row, shifting momentum. That arc can help eliminate deficits in a matter of minutes, making games closer and more exciting. It’s also exhilarating to watch the automatic and effortless accuracy of these sharpshooters.
How do they do their damage? Some players like the corners (some because it’s a shorter shot, some because you can lose your defender if you drift there). Others like the top of the key. Some players like doing their damage off pull-ups, while others would prefer to catch-and-shoot.
Let’s break down how these shooters operate. While our list is in order of made threes so far in 2015-16, it’s not a ranking of the best three-point shooters. It is just about delving into the top shooters who do their damage from deep and seeing how they are so effective. All statistics are through NBA.com and their player tracking software or ESPN, while the shot charts are via StatMuse.
Some usual suspects are missing from this list because they missed time and haven’t been in enough games to make the list. This includes J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver and Kevin Durant.
Redick has only played in 18 games this season for the Los Angeles Clippers, but the sharpshooter is still shooting at an elite level with a 45.2 percentage from deep. He just doesn’t have enough volume to make the list. Redick is a catch-and-shoot specialist, as 33.3 percent of his shots come right off a pass behind the line, where he shoots 48.4 percent. He subscribes to the Ray Allen school of three-point shooters by running all around the court and getting screened by his teammates. He shoots 45.9 percent overall following a screen.
Korver also loves running off screens, where he shoots 50 percent. On the year, he is shooting 41.2 percent from behind the arc in 21 games for the Atlanta Hawks. Korver shoots 47.5 percent of his shots on catch-and-shoot three-pointers and makes 41.6 percent of them.
Durant only shoots 21 percent of his shots right off the catch, but converts on 49.1 percent of them. In total, 33.9 percent of his shots are from deep and he converts 45.7 of them for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant has only played 15 games so far.
Expect all three of these players to jet up the three-point rankings. By the end of the season, all of them will probably be in the top 10 in three-point makes, barring injury.
Brandon Knight (Phoenix Suns)
Knight looks like he is finally healthy and finding his groove after being traded to Phoenix last season then subsequently sustaining an injury. He is seventh in the league in made threes with 57. As he is being asked to carry the offense more this season, he is averaging more shot attempts overall and more threes, which is why his three-point percentage has dipped to 37.5 percent. Three-pointers make up 37.7 percent of Knight’s shot attempts.
He shoots 40.3 percent off the catch, which accounts for 16.7 percent of his shots – while 20.7 percent of his shots come off of pull-up jumpers from behind the arc, where he converts 34.9 percent.
In terms of where he likes to shoot his three-pointers, his favorite spot seems to be the left wing as seen in the shot chart.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Harden shoots 41.9 percent of his shots from behind the line and converts 31.3 percent of them, which is bad for the usual player, but not for someone with his usage. He is a volume scorer who carries the offensive load for the Houston Rockets. With the amount of shots he takes, 8.5 threes a game, it isn’t too surprising he is sixth in the NBA in made threes with 61.
Harden shoots 15.9 percent of his shots as catch-and-shoot threes, where he converts 35.1 percent of them. Everyone knows he likes to isolate his defender and take them one-on-one. He isolates on 29.4 percent of his shots (the highest percentage of all qualified players). On those pull-up jumpers (defined by taking at least one dribble before shooting), Harden takes 24.3 percent of his shots that way from behind the three-point line and makes only 29.2 percent of them. Most good shooters are at their best in catch-and-shoot situations. Harden shoots slightly better when he dribbles seven or more times first. He shoots 34.1 percent off-the-catch and 38.1 percent after seven or more dribbles. He shoots 43.8 percent after two dribbles from three-point range. Weirdly, his percentages go way down (20 percent or lower) when taking either one or between three and six dribbles.
Most often (20.9 percent of his threes), Harden is just open (defined by a defender being 4-6 feet from him), where he shoots 33 percent. He’s slightly better (34.3 percent) when he is being tightly defended (opponent is within two to four feet). Harden seems to favor the right wing for his threes, practically leaving the left wing alone. It makes some sense since he is left-handed.
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Now that Lillard is the marquee player for Portland, his usage rating went way up. His currently has the sixth-highest usage in the league, which is why his three-point efficiency has decreased to 37.4 percent. But due to the high volume, he is fifth in the league in three-pointers made with 67.
This year, 21.3 percent of Lillard’s shots come on pull-up jumpers from deep, where he shoots 32.7 percent. Only 16.5 percent of his shots come right after the catch, but he converts 44.7 percent of them.
Like Harden, Lillard likes to dribble before pulling up on his three-pointers. Only a combined 3.5 percent of the time will he take one or two dribbles before pulling up for a three. However, 7.8 percent of the time, he’ll take three to six dribbles before he shoots, where he converts 41.7 percent of the time. Other times, Lillard will take seven or more dribbles (10 percent of the time) before taking a three, and he makes 37 percent of those.
As for Lillard’s favorite spot to shoot from deep, he tends to like the top of the arc (but just offset to the left).
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Thompson had a quiet start to the season, but has come on strong lately – including a strong 39-point performance against the Indiana Pacers. Thompson had eight three-pointers in the first half, and if it had been a closer game (giving Thompson enough minutes and reason to shoot more), he probably would have broken the all-time NBA record for three-pointers in a game. He made two more three-pointers that game for a grand total of 10 from behind the line, falling just two short of the record held by both Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall.
Thompson is fourth in NBA in made three-pointers with 68. He hardly has the ball in his hands, as only six percent of his shots come from behind the line and in pull-up situations. He shoots 44.4 percent in those situations. His usual shots are off-the-catch, as those make up 42.6 percent of all his shots.
Thompson sure seems to favor both the right and left wings, almost to where the arc turns into the corner three-pointer.
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
The new Lowry, who seems to have dropped a lot of weight and reinvigorated his career last offseason, is tied with Paul George for second in made three-pointers with 69.
Lowry has really upped his game, averaging more points per game, as well as attempting and making more three-pointers than last year. He’s increased his shooting behind the line by nearly eight percent from a sub par 33.8 percent to an elite 41.8 percent. Three-pointers now account for 46.1 percent of his field goals.
He has a good balance between catch-and-shoot threes (23.5 percent of all his shots) and pull-ups (22.1 percent). Lowry shoots only 32.6 percent on the latter category, but an impressive 52.4 percent on the former.
Lowry definitely favors the top of the key and the area right around there for his three-pointers.
Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
George has come back strong from his gruesome leg injury that occurred with Team USA two offseasons ago. He is carrying that Pacers team and making a case to be the best player in the Eastern Conference not named LeBron James.
He is tied for the second-most made three-pointers in the league in only 20 games (fewer games than anyone else in the top seven) with 69. Three-pointers account for 38.6 percent of George’s shots, and he converts at a 44.8 percent clip. Of those, 20.6 percent are off the catch (where he makes 53.7 percent) and 17.5 percent are pull-ups (where he converts 34.3 percent).
George really can shoot from everywhere around the arc, but his favorite spot seems to be the left wing.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Curry is in a tier of his own as a shooter. It’s amazing how effortless and efficient he makes knocking down threes look. A bad shot for most any NBA player, and every kid playing in the park, is a good shot for him.
First off is the sheer volume that Curry is making. George and Lowry have 69 makes from behind the arc. Curry has 119 already. He is 50 made threes ahead of the entire league. That’s the same difference between number one and two on the made threes list as between number two (Paul George and Kyle Lowry) and number 116 (Cleveland Cavaliers’ Richard Jefferson and Brooklyn Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic), who currently have 19 made threes. Before Christmas, Curry is already 100 made three-pointers ahead of the average role player.
That’s only a quarter into the season, so his lead is probably going to increase. Keep in mind, he isn’t even playing a lot of fourth quarters. Curry is converting on 46.5 percent of his three-pointers. That is the third-best percentage among qualified players (those on pace to make 82 threes by the end of the season). The two players ahead of him are Kawhi Leonard (50 percent from three) and Doug McDermott (47.6 percent from three). The difference is Leonard and McDermott have attempted 84 and 63 three-pointers respectively — Curry has attempted 256.
Curry loves to pull up for his threes, as that accounts for 29 percent of his offense and he shoots an impressive 41.4 percent on those. He isn’t too bad in the easier off-the-catch shooting, where he shoots a predictably excellent 49.1 percent. He shoots 50 percent from deep when using no dribble or just one dribble.
It almost doesn’t matter how you guard him. Of course, if you leave him wide open (no one within six or more feet), he’ll hit 50.7 percent. If you leave most players, they will regress toward their average, but seemingly not Curry. If you leave him only marginally open (defender within four to six feet) he converts at an elite 43 percent. And if you guard him (defender between two to four feet), he’s even better (46.6 percent). You’d have to basically be standing right next to him to make him an only average (30.8 percent) shooter from behind the arc.
Curry’s shot chart is ridiculous. With Curry, it doesn’t really matter where outside the arc he is shooting from, he’s making it. He is shooting way above average from all around the court. If you had to pick his favorite spot, it would be the left wing and both corners, but he probably doesn’t have a preference.
NBA Daily: 60-Pick Mock Draft – 6/18/2019
The 2019 NBA Draft is Thursday and things seem to be taking shape at the top of the draft board. However, the middle of the draft could be wildly unpredictable. Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft.
The NBA Draft is upon us, and while there still seems to be a lot of things in play in the middle of the draft, the top of the board seems to be settling in on a defined order.
Assuming the top 10 picks stay where they are, the draft could go pretty much as scripted. After the top 10, it seems this could be a wildly unpredictable draft, with what’s shaping up to be a lot of pick movement, especially as certain guys rise or fall.
Here are some of the situation to watch:
The New Orleans Pelicans, fresh off their agreed Anthony Davis trade with the LA Lakers, are still exploring moves that could involve the fourth overall pick. The prevailing thought is if New Orleans can flip the pick for a solid veteran they would, but there has also been recent talk that they would like to try and trade up to grab Duke forward RJ Barrett in front of the Knicks. It doesn’t seem likely that Memphis would do such a deal unless they were assured they would get Murray State’s Ja Morant at four. The Knicks have been pretty locked in on keeping the third pick and have made it clear to local media that they would be happy with either Barrett or Morant, likely killing any traction on a Memphis-Pelicans swap.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had been linked to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal for the fifth overall pick, but traction on that seems to have died off once the Pelicans got control of the fourth pick and seem to have zeroed in on Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver if they keep the pick. The Hawks have been exploring options on moving one of their middle first round picks, either the 10 or the 17, which they will receive from Brooklyn as part of the pending Allen Crabbe salary dump. League sources doubt the Hawks keep all of their picks, but it’s unclear where those moved picks would land as of today.
Speaking of moved picks, the Boston Celtics have been exploring options on their three first-round picks; it is believed the Celtics will ultimately deal the player they select with the 20th overall pick, although league sources say Boston is open to moving all of them if the return is right.
There could be some teams to watch in terms of trading into the draft; The Houston Rockets have explored deals that would get them into the late lottery, it does not seem like there is traction on anything as of today, but it’s a situation to watch.
The Denver Nuggets have also explored deals to get into the first round, mainly to obtain inexpensive bench players. The Nuggets could be one of the teams to watch for with one of the Celtics or Hawks picks.
With all of that in mind, here is the latest NBA Mock Draft. You can look for the Final Consensus Mock Draft tomorrow.UPDATED: 6/18 - 4:00pm
Stay tuned to Basketball Insiders for the latest news and rumors surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft and instant reaction pieces on all the picks in the first round.
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NBA Daily: Admiral Schofield Set On Building His Own Reputation
Admiral Schofield’s mindset carried him throughout his four-year career with the Tennessee Volunteers, and it will continue to take him to new heights in the NBA. Spencer Davies writes.
Admiral Schofield lives for the late-game heroics.
“A lot of people talk about the clutch gene,” the former Tennessee forward told reporters at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago with a grin. “ I don’t think it’s a gene. I just think it comes from a mindset, comes from your preparation and how you approach the game.”
On March 9, 2017, Schofield had an opportunity. With the ninth-seeded Volunteers down by two to the third-seeded Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament, he hoisted a shot for the victory from the left elbow.
To everyone’s dismay, Schofield’s attempt fell short. Tennessee was eliminated and their season was over. Then a sophomore, he and his teammates were scrambling to find somebody to take it. He admittedly was not ready to be in that spot.
That’s when something clicked in his head.
“I think my mindset changed to ‘I will never be in a position where the last shot is decided for me and I won’t make it,’” Schofield said in a farewell video post on Twitter back in March.
“I just want to contribute to winning,” Schofield said at the Combine. “Whether it’s defending for the last shot being on the defensive end, whether it’s taking that corner three or taking that kick-out three or making a play, I’m that guy. I want to be that guy…”
Ever since then, that mentality has stuck with him.
Do a quick Google search on Schofield. Amidst the highlight-reel flashes of athleticism, it’s guaranteed that you’ll find more than a handful of different moments where the fearless 22-year-old stepped up during crunch time.
On December 8 this past year, Schofield led then-seventh-ranked Tennessee to a win over the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. En route to a career-high 30 points, he caught fire in the second half and knocked down the go-ahead three from the top of the perimeter with 22 seconds left in the game.
The story didn’t change in conference play. A month later with his team up by two on Florida, Schofield went to the right corner and hit a dagger with 41 seconds to play. In a one-point affair vs. Ole Miss later in the season, he took a game-clinching charge.
When the NCAA Tournament came around, Schofield stepped up once again. Tussling in the first round with an upset-minded Colgate squad, he nailed two triples from the same right corner spot with less than two minutes to go. Before getting eliminated in overtime by Purdue in the Sweet 16, he drained a deep three above the break to give the Vols the lead with five minutes left in regulation.
“I mean if you ask guys like Kobe [Bryant], they won’t tell you it’s a clutch gene. It’s just the thousands of shots. It’s another shot that he shot a thousand times,” Schofield said at the Combine.
“It’s the same thing for me. I stay in the gym. I work on my mindset. I work on situational things in the gym and [I’m] always staying ready, staying prepared for the next shot and being prepared for that big shot. And I just feel like in that moment in time, I think I’m the best option.
If you can’t tell by the infectious smile, Schofield is beaming with confidence—and why wouldn’t he be?
When he arrived in Knoxville in 2015, things weren’t great. The coach that recruited him to come to Tennessee, Donnie Tyndall, was fired after his lone underwhelming season for the program. Rick Barnes came in as a replacement and the results were poor in his first couple of seasons, too.
But over the last two years, the Volunteers are 57-15. They’ve appeared in back-to-back March Madness tournaments and won the regular season SEC Championship in 2018. For the first time in school history, they were ranked No. 1 in the country during the month of January. It was the first time they had been the nation’s top team in over a decade.
The turnaround was monumental, and Schofield realizes how big of a piece he was to that puzzle.
“It felt great because, to be honest, I was part of that foundation building that culture,” Schofield said. “And to be on top in the end really is just a testament to the hard work. And everything that we built in those first two years, it really started to pay off in those last few years.
“But to say that I was one of the guys that helped start that is a blessing. We had a great year. We had a great run.”
Transitioning to the next level, Schofield feels as ready as anybody. Under Barnes, he says everything was “pro-structured.” The Vols were constantly pushed. They were always prepared. Perhaps most importantly, everybody was held accountable, which is essential when players are going to be on their own in the pros.
Because of his experiences, Schofield believes in himself. It’s not about him simply sticking around the league. He desires much more than that.
“I think I can contribute to any team or any organization that brings me in, not just with my play,” Schofield said. “But just being a great teammate, being an ambassador for that organization and for that community, really coming in and being a positive influence, having some type of leadership. Not saying I’ll come in and be ‘the guy’ or ‘the leader.’ There’s many ways you can lead.”
In discussing his character, it’s hard not to bring up one of the most selfless moments in his college career. With Tennessee and Iowa knotted up prior to heading into overtime, Schofield—who was one hack away from fouling out—told Barnes to take him out in favor of teammate Kyle Alexander.
Cold from the field and in danger of being disqualified, Schofield made the request knowing Alexander would be a game-changer. It paid off in a victory.
“I’m a winner,” Schofield said after the 83-77 win in extra time. “At the end of the day, if I don’t have to be on the floor to win, that’s fine.”
While there’s plenty of other times he’s put his leadership on display, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect example of Schofield’s team-first outlook. Combine those intangibles with the skill set and you have yourself one hell of a basketball player.
Schofield views himself as a positionless player with the ability to guard two through four or five, switching and slowing down scorers and doing the little things on the defensive end. Within offensive sets, converting on shots from the corner, coming off pin-downs and utilizing dribble hand-offs are his forte. He also has incredible athleticism, whether it’s skying for a huge dunk or swatting an opponent.
NBA teams can clearly see the 40 percent rate from three over the last three years. Still, there’s more than meets the eye to that, according to Schofield.
“[I want to] show ’em that not only can I shoot the ball, I can defend and do multiple things – create a little bit for others and pass the ball well,” Schofield said. “I don’t credit for how well I pass the ball either because I haven’t been in many situations at Tennessee to pass the ball. But I do pass it pretty well.”
Schofield maintains he deserves to be picked in the first round. As one of three draft hopefuls from Tennessee—Grant Williams and Jordan Bone being the others—who hopes to hear his name called Thursday night, that’s what he’s aiming for.
If he gets his wish, Admiral will become the second professional athlete in the Schofield family. His older brother, O’Brien, is an NFL linebacker who was a part of the 2014 Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
“He’s helped me a lot,” Admiral said of his O’Brien. “But more than anything, I’ve just been very observant seeing how he did things, even though it was football. Just got a little taste of that type of spotlight, him being an NFL Champion, playing on the Seahawks.
“Just seeing the process of that, seeing what it takes to win on that level, seeing some of the things that they did—I was able to implement that at the University of Tennessee, but I also I’ll be able to take that with me going forward when I get to the league.”
Individually, there’s always room to get better. You can develop better dribbling, improve your passing or tweak your jumper. But can you make an impact on winning?
And that’s what will separate him from the rest.
NBA Daily: What’s Next For The Lakers?
With Anthony Davis onboard to make them a contender, the Lakers must decide how they will spend their money this summer, write Matt John.
The NBA season ended literally just days ago, and we already may have seen the most significant move made this offseason.
The Los Angeles Lakers went all-in when they traded 95 percent of the farm on Friday for Anthony Davis, pairing him up with LeBron to make up one of the most fearsome duos in the league.
There’s a lot of risk going into this. LeBron will be 35 in December, and Davis doesn’t have a whole lot of playoff success to his name. Many think the Lakers may have overshot their hand when they made this deal. They traded almost all the young talent they had – plus, three picks and two pick swaps is a king’s ransom for a guy on an expiring contract.
Let’s not mince words. LA definitely paid more than they could afford in the long run with this trade, but Anthony Davis is the type of guy you overshoot your hand for. When you have one of the league’s top players in the game, and you have the chance to add another one, you pay the piper.
Now all that remains is what to do with the rest of the roster. All props need to go to Rob Pelinka for creating a title window for the Lakers when the clock was ticking, but let’s not overlook that the roster he constructed last summer turned out to be a complete disaster. It was an intriguing idea to put a bunch of playmakers around LeBron, but the lack of spacing manifested a clogged toilet offense.
Even after adding Anthony Davis and his $25+ million contract, the Lakers will still have plenty of cap room at their arsenal this summer. If getting the Lakers their 17th title is truly his concern, he needs to build the best roster he can around LeBron and AD. In order to do that, the Lakers have two options to go to
Get The Third Star
Now it’s clear as day that this is what the Lakers are hoping for. Shortly after the Davis trade was announced, Marc Stein reported that the team will make Kemba Walker its primary target in free agency.
Having a third star has been LeBron’s MO for every destination he’s gone to since “The Decision.” First, it was Chris Bosh in Miami, and then it was Kevin Love in Cleveland. Neither matched the production that they had with their previous teams before they joined LeBron, but they did give the team an undeniable edge that helped them win a championship.
Getting that third banana takes the pressure off of James and Davis to produce on a nightly basis, and it can help stagger minutes for James who, all things considered, isn’t getting any younger.
Now, Davis can handle a fair amount of the load as James continues to age, but a third star would only make his life easier. As we all know, Davis wasn’t exactly happy that he had to carry much of the scoring burden in the Big Easy, so having someone else pick up the slack would not make it feel like a repeat of what happened with the Pelicans.
Luckily for the Lakers, this summer has one of the best free agent classes of all time. Kevin Durant, who’s still getting the max with or without a healthy Achilles, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton and Walker. Adding one of those names would solidify the Lakers’ odds as the title favorite (if they aren’t already).
The only problem with getting this third star on presumably a maximum contract is that, with all that money invested in James, Davis and Player X, there is little money to spend elsewhere. The only other contracts that can be handed out are the Mid-Level Exception and veteran minimum contracts. This summer, a lot of teams are going to have cap space, and not everyone is going to have that happy ending this offseason.
Because of that, expect lesser players to get paid far more than what they are worth. That’s going to make it difficult for the Lakers to get valued rotation players on veteran’s minimum level contracts.
That’s why it could be better for LA to consider the other option.
Get Reliable Role Players
The Lakers have two of the league’s best players. As long as they stay on the court, LA should be one of the best teams in the league. With the Warriors appearing to disband this summer, the NBA will have some parity for the first time since 2016. Now that the next title may be up for grabs, LeBron and Davis could be enough star power alone to power the Lakers to a title.
Emphasis on star power. Of course, they can’t win a title without any productive players in their rotation. They could get them, but that would probably mean they wouldn’t be able to add a third banana. Then again, maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.
If we learned anything from the Warriors from the last few weeks, it’s that a lack of depth can really kill you in the Finals. One of the reasons why Toronto won so handily – besides the unfortunate injuries – was because of its full-balanced attack against Golden State. The Warriors may have had the edge in star power, but Marc Gasol, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Norm Powell took advantage of the Warriors’ lack of versatility as a team.
You need those types of players to win the championship. No one knows that better than LeBron. Things didn’t start out great in Miami, but after the team added the likes of Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen, the HEAT got that extra push to win a championship.
Ditto for Cleveland. The Cavaliers didn’t have the greatest start when he came back. Then they added JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov and Channing Frye- and that made a huge difference.
Something that we all know by now is that LeBron thrives when he has players who can shoot. The Lakers could bring back some of their designated “shooters” from last season, including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Mike Muscala and Reggie Bullock, but there are better options this summer
Danny Green, Nikola Mirotic, JJ Redick, Trevor Ariza and Darren Collison to name a few are all guys who can shoot the rock that on paper would be an excellent fit next to LeBron. At the very least, they would help LeBron play the type of basketball that he loves to play in.
The problem is, those guys can’t be asked to do more than what their specialty is. If and when LeBron and Davis are having an off-night, you can’t rely on a sharpshooter to carry the team when it’s down.
There’s always the possibility that the Lakers, even if they don’t sign a star player, believe they have their third banana in Kyle Kuzma. That’s a lot of pressure for a third-year player, but Kuzma has been exceeding expectations since he came into the league. Maybe he’s only scratching the surface of his potential.
There is no wrong answer for the Lakers here. It’s exciting enough that with Davis on board, they now have options this summer. They no longer have to bank on the cavalry coming in the near future because the cavalry has arrived. They’re not a finished product, but they finally have a product on their hands.
All that said, which door do you think the Lakers should choose?