You hear two very important words every time the draft roles around—shooting mechanics. Prospects are judged in essentially every way, and shooting mechanics are as important of a gauge as any.
But when you get to the NBA, your mechanics don't really matter too much if they're bad. It helps a lot if they're good, but we see players become stars with horrible shooting mechanics.
In this slideshow, I'm going to discuss some players with notable jumpers. Unique doesn't mean good, and unique doesn't mean bad. Unique just means unique.
Whether it's flawless and beautiful, or if it's the ugliest thing this side of bald Brittany Spears, I'm going to try to cover it in this slideshow, and even give you video evidence.
Dirk Nowitizki is an absolutely incredible athlete. He's a seven-foot big man, but he has a smooth touch on his jump shot that allows him to get out of the paint.
He's definitely the best shooting big man in the game, and he's paved the way for other seven-footers (as a Bobcats fan, Byron Mullens comes to mind) to become legitimate outside threats.
His jumpshot along with his size makes Dirk one of the deadliest weapons in the NBA.
What makes his jumper unique—aside from the fact that he's a seven-footer taking jumpers regularly—is how low he jumps and his follow through.
You'll notice with his shot that Nowitzki barely leaves the ground and almost comes back down before he gets his shot off.
And then, to cap it off, he often holds his follow through with his shooting hand until the ball is in the bucket, as if guiding the ball to the rim.
It's a great jump shot, and it obviously works for him.
It's just too bad that Dallas isn't giving him any talent to work with this coming season.
Josh Childress has a horrible jump shot.
That's the best way to describe it.
From his waist, Childress brings the ball straight up over his head and pushes it forward with both hands.
The best way I can describe it is by saying it's as if he's taking a granny-shot, but instead of releasing on the way up, he releases on the way down.
I guess it works for him, though as a 6'8" small forward, he most drives to the hoop for a dunk or a quick lay up or pull back jumper, which is still ugly.
Childress is a good player who has a career shooting average over 50 percent. He has been extremely underutilized as a Phoenix Sun, rarely seeing any time on the floor after what looked like a pretty promising career in Atlanta.
Can't blame it all on the jumper, but I think it's fair to say it hasn't won him any favors.
My apologies for the lack of video here; I couldn't find one good enough to show you guys. Just take my word for it; it's ugly.
Ray Allen, as we all know, is one of the best shooters in NBA history, and before it's all said and done, could be remembered as the best three-point shooter of all-time.
He's not on this list because his mechanics are necessarily unique...he's on this list because his mechanics are uniquely perfect.
You will be hard-pressed to find someone who has the shooting mechanics to match Ray Allen.
Perfect jump, a body that stays perfectly straight in the jump, ball released perfectly at the pinnacle of his jump and a follow through that guides the ball into the rim.
People are constantly trying to compare young guys with good mechanics to Ray Allen. In this most recent draft class, John Jenkins seems to be the one guy everyone is targeting as the best "pure shooter" and the next Ray Allen.
Me? I think Jenkins is going to be a good shooter. I don't know if we'll ever see someone like Ray Allen again, though.
Marcus Camby isn't known to take many jumpers, and with his mechanics, it's easy to see why.
Unlike Dirk Nowitzki, Camby doesn't have that magic touch. He's more of the in-the-paint, hard-nosed center that you would expect a seven-footer to be.
But as you can see in this video, when given a wide-open look and time running out, Camby thinks, "might as well!"
The end result of the decision to shoot the three are mixed. On the positive end, we got to see Camby, a seven-footer who practically never shoots out of the paint, score a three-pointer.
On the negative side, we had to watch his mechanics.
Camby jumps, brings the ball behind his head and then throws the ball at the hoop. He barely leaves the ground, so I'm not even sure if you can classify this as a jumper.
Regardless, he made the shot, and it's not like he's fooling himself into thinking he can make it all the time. You won't see that often.
Joakim Noah is one of my favorite players in the game. He's a fierce competitor, a funny guy, relentlessly rough in the paint and he gives hilarious interviews.
As you can see by the video, though, his jump shot needs a little work.
He gets so excited after making a free-throw jumper that he starts pistol dancing and yelling. I guess what he didn't realize is how unbelievably ugly his jumper is.
Virtually no bend in the legs, very little jump and a ball that is shoved directly from his face. It's definitely not something to be proud of.
But his paint play is. And every time you get him for an interview, you're guaranteed a solid sound byte, so I guess we can give him a pass on not having sound mechanics.
A little advice for Joakim in the future: Don't leave the paint, and don't get so hype after making an open jumper from the free-throw line.
In this video, you'll see the best of what Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has to offer to the Charlotte Bobcats—an unrelenting motor, excellent power, an uncanny ability to get to the rim and finish. You'll also see the worst: his shooting mechanics.
I mentioned earlier I'm a Bobcat fan, and I have to say that I'm not too worried about it. The way he gets to the rim and the fact that, despite having terrible mechanics, he's still fairly accurate with his jumper have me sold that he can be star.
But it's still worth noting that he really does need to work on his mechanics if they prove to be a problem in the NBA.
MKG has a strange double hitch in his jumper and has his shooting arm flatten out in front of his face to push the ball out of his hands. Aside from being really ugly, it takes a long time to get a shot off.
That, ultimately, is the biggest problem. Guys with bad mechanics have proven to be great shooters in the NBA without changing a thing, but if MKG wants to succeed, he either has to change how he shoots or hope that the amount of time it takes to get a shot off isn't a factor against opposing defenses.
Taking a momentary break from really bad jumpers, let's take a look at Kobe's masterful mechanics.
While not as good of a pure shooter as Ray Allen, Kobe can do it all, and his mechanics are nothing to laugh at. The most striking thing about Kobe's shooting ability is his ability to launch himself high in the air and get more hangtime than anyone else I can think of.
Kobe is one of the be most prolific scorers of all-time, and along with LeBron James, will go down in history as one of the all-time greats, with comparisons between him, LeBron and Michael Jordan in abundance.
The simple fact is, his mechanics are nearly flawless, and the hangtime is ridiculous.
You'll see in the video, with several slow-motion shots how perfect he repeats his jump shot...never a flaw, even on shots he misses.
And like I said, that hangtime is crazy.
He shoots at the top of his jump with both arms extended fully into the air before he releases the ball, able to take shots over basically anyone because of the height of his jump.
We all know what Kobe can do on a basketball court. We've seen it happen. He's one of the greatest scorers of all-time, and his mechanics are about as good as they get.
Leandro Barbosa is an explosive player—one of the fastest in the NBA and a great finisher at the rim. But his jumper is just silly.
It's kind of hard to tell in the above video, as it mostly shows the breakaway plays that he's famous for, but his jumper isn't...bad. It isn't good, either. It's impossible to explain.
Basically, it's one fluid motion. He takes the ball, waist-high, and just kind of pushes the ball to the basket. Imagine taking a prayer of a jogging half court shot, and that's what Barbosa's jumper looks like at a stand still.
Like I said, I can't really decide if it's bad or not. It's just so vastly different than what is considered normal that I don't know what to say about it.
At the end of the day, it was always going to be Shawn Marion.
The commentator in the video says, "the jumper is ugly only if it's not going in."
All due respect, I disagree. The jumper is just plain ugly, regardless of its success.
Marion is a great player who has had one heck of a career so far, and after 13 years and at the age of 34, he's still going strong, ugly jumper and all. He even boasts a career 48.3 percent field-goal percentage and a decent 33.1 three-point percentage.
Not bad for a guy who shoves the ball with both hands from in front of his face.
Often in basketball, defenders are taught to get a hand in the face of the opposing shooter for obvious reasons. It disrupts their line of sight and makes the basket hard to see. None of that is necessary when guarding Marion because his jump shot does all of the defensive work for them.
How he has had such great numbers over the course of his career is confounding to me. I guess it's a testament to how great of an athlete he is, and how instinctually he can shoot.
Either way, Marion has the most unique jumper in the NBA right now. Also, the ugliest.