A Tournament to Determine NBA's Ugliest Shooting Strokes

Marshall Zweig@ihavethewriteContributor IIFebruary 4, 2013

A Tournament to Determine NBA's Ugliest Shooting Strokes

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    You've met the All-Stars. Now meet the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

    Getting the ball into the hoop on a regular basis is already a wonder of physics. With these guys' stinky strokes and repulsive releases, it's a flat-out miracle any of their shots go in.

    And quite frankly, some of them don't.

    In honor of All-Star week, I proudly present a tournament to decide who has the ugliest shot in the NBA.

    My wife suggested that, instead of March Madness, I dub this February Freakshow. And as I always say, a happy wife means a happy life.

    So without further ado, I give you the First Annual February Freakshow: the battle of the weirdest, wildest, wackiest and worst shots in the NBA.

    Let's jump it up!

No. 1 Shawn Marion vs. No. 32 Jamal Crawford

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    Jamal Crawford is going to look strange with the mask he's going to wear while recovering from his broken nose. But that's nothing compared to his odd shot, where both arms flip forward to release the ball.

    Crawford reminds me of a Six Million Dollar Man doll I had as a kid. His arms flipped the same way. But he was a plastic doll.

    Crawford's form is weird, but he makes Shawn Marion look like Baryshnikov by comparison.

    Marion shoots like he's cheating at darts. They call him The Matrix. Watching Marion shoot makes me want to take the blue pill.

    To Marion's credit, his shots go in. Though I'm not sure how.

    Advancing: Marion

No. 2 Joakim Noah vs. No. 31 Earl Clark

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    If Greg Louganis were reincarnated as a 6'10" basketball player, he'd be Earl Clark. Clark's shot looks less like a jumper and more like a dive off the high board...until you see a Spalding rise out of his hands and head toward the rim.

    When Joakim Noah launches one, I'm not sure whether he took a shot, or simply got tired of holding the basketball and threw it away in disgust.

    Bad form for both, but bad matchup for Clark's nutty shot.

    Advancing: Noah

No. 3 DeSagana Diop vs. No. 30 Tayshaun Prince

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    Diop, owner of the worst free-throw shot ever, was an easy choice for the No. 3 spot. But surprisingly, Double D, who's been known to clunk a few, can look silky-smooth at times too.

    When Prince sticks those bony elbows out on his J, it looks like he's trying to bounce the ball off his head before he launches it.

    Whoa—a No. 3 seed goes down. Doesn't it feel like March in February?

    Upset! Advancing: Prince

No. 4 Ronnie Brewer vs. No. 29 Rashard Lewis

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    Lewis, who's undeniably getting up there in NBA years, has always actually looked dead to me when he shoots. His whole body goes dead and straight, and his legs hang limply underneath him. His form is like a car accident: ghastly, and yet you can't look away.

    Brewer, on the other hand, does a strange inward move with his lower body when he shoots. It looks to me like he's got restless leg syndrome or something.

    Brewer has been a common choice throughout the years for his strange form. But at the end of the day, Lewis pulls off the upset.

    And a No. 4 seed falls. All we need is Dick Vitale going apoplectic about something banal.

    Upset! Advancing: Lewis

No. 5 Marcus Camby vs. No. 28 Landry Fields

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    How do you describe Camby's famously odd shot? It looks like he's underwater and his air ran out...he's trying desperately to get to the surface before he drowns. And all that's compressed into his shooting motion.

    Fields has a one-handed push shot which is surprisingly effective, but makes him look like he's shot-putting the ball.

    This one's a layup.

    Advancing: Camby

No. 6 DeMarcus Cousins vs. No. 27 Leandro Barbosa

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    Cousins has had a rough year. And so have fans who've seen his jump shot. He looks like he's trying to do a magic trick with a yo-yo and make the ball come back to him.

    Barbosa looks like he's playing Pop-A-Shot. Also, most of the time, I can't actually see him putting anything on the shot...yet it flies out of his hands. Mysterious.

    This one's a toss-up—much like the way these two players' shots look. And in a toss-up, the higher seed usually turns it on at crunch time. Though, in the case of this tourney, that means turning on the weirdness.

    Advancing: Cousins

No. 7 Chuck Hayes vs. No. 26 Steve Blake

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    Chuck Hayes is another whose seed is high based on truly god-awful free-throw shooting. Watch these attempts…and marvel that the man makes more money than most of us can ever dream of.

    His jumpers, though, aren't nearly as entertaining.

    Steve Blake somehow looks like he gets his shot off like one would pop a zit: squeezing the ball until it flies forward. Oddly, too, it looks like the ball is too heavy for him; it often seems to hesitate in the air, as if he didn't put enough on it.

    I'm sensing an upset alert. And since I'm the writer...I'll be darned—I'M RIGHT!

    Upset! Advancing: Blake

No. 8 Glen Davis vs. No. 25 Dirk Nowitzki

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    Glen Davis actually has a pretty sweet shot for a big man. But doesn't it look like he's bouncing off an unseen trampoline when he shoots it?

    No one's saying the talented Mr. Nowitzki's shot isn't elite. But there are two strange elements to his stroke:

    1) whenever he shoots a long-range two or a three, it looks like those trick shots in movies where the shooter shoots it high enough for a production assistant to catch it, and then someone from above throws in a short jumper.

    2) watch his legs when he fires. Usually his right leg—only the right leg—goes out so that his thigh is almost perpendicular to the floor. For one brief shining moment, Dirk looks like he's trying to imitate the last scene in Karate Kid. (Which one? Which one? Let's put it this way: Jackie Chan is not Mr. Miyagi.)

    Who cares, though. Dirk is too good to win an ugly shot contest.

    P.S. This is probably the only time Big Baby is gonna beat Dirk at anything.

    Advancing: Davis

No. 9 Carlos Boozer vs. No. 24 Keith Bogans

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    I'll never forgive Carlos Boozer for not only allegedly lying, but lying to a blind man, for no other reason than money.

    Most fans will also not forgive his jump shot. He puts it so far behind his head, I'm surprised that he doesn't lose the grip on it. Anyone could come up behind him and knock the ball out of his hands. Of course, they'd have to deal with Boozer after that.

    Bogans' jump shot isn't that bad in general, but he made the list simply on the basis of this shot. This may be the ugliest jump shot ever to go.

    This one's a cakewalk.

    Advancing: Boozer

No. 10 Matt Bonner vs. No. 23 C.J. Watson

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    Matt Bonner can drain the outside jumper. But watching him will drain the color from your cheeks.

    Usually shooting with butt out and knees bent, Bonner looks more like he's practicing in front of his television than playing an NBA game. But damned if the rock doesn't find its mark.

    I don't know what's weird about Watson's form, but something is. It's like he hesitates in the air too long before his shooting motion starts, and then his arms are extended so straight...I can't put my finger on it, but I wouldn't use his form as a teaching tool for my kid, that's for sure.

    Despite Watson's weirdness, this one is elementary.

    Advancing: Bonner

No. 11 Ersan Ilyasova vs. No. 22 Mo Williams

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    Ersan Ilyasova looks like he's building a house out of matchsticks when he cocks his arms back for a shot. What's almost as weird is he looks like he's staring at where the ball will be in mid-flight, versus at the rim, when the shot goes.

    Mo Williams' shots are a thing of beauty. His form, however, would probably have been useful in ancient days, for firing flaming cannonballs over the castle walls.

    Come on—with a name like Ilyasova, did you really think this guy would lose a weirdness contest?

    Advancing: Ilyasova

No. 12 Cole Aldrich vs. No. 21 Bismack Biyombo

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    When Aldrich shoots his two-handed jumper, his body language screams "You can't stop this because I'm taller than you!" Note to Cole: This is the NBA...you're not the tallest guy anymore.

    Biyombo's jumpers, by contrast, look like he's trying to get a kite to fly. And that's weird enough to pull off the upset.

    Upset! Advancing: Biyombo

No. 13 Kevin Martin vs. No. 20 Andre Miller

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    Martin seems to release the ball way before he's finished his upward motion. I'm surprised the ball doesn't go down, rather than up and in.

    Arms way out in front of him when he releases, Miller looks less like a basketball player and more like he's conducting a philharmonic orchestra.

    Which means sweet music in this tourney.

    Upset! Advancing: Miller

No. 14 Tyreke Evans vs. No. 19 Omri Casspi

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    This is kind of a magical pairing.

    I say that because Evans, with the way he brings the ball to his forehead, looks for all the world like he's trying read the ball's mind. Give him one of those soothsayer hats and he'd make a fortune telling fortunes.

    Casspi, making magic in his own way, usually releases the shot while his forearms are parallel to his body. What does it look like? Put it this way: If Casspi were to decide to cast a spell over the crowd during his stroke, the audience would probably turn into frogs.

    Close one, but...

    Advancing: Evans

No. 15 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. No. 18 Blake Griffin

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    When MKG shoots, it looks like he's blocking his own line of vision with the ball. Maybe he's trying to develop his sixth sense?

    Griffin is a heck of an athlete, but as a jump shooter he looks more like Lenny in Of Mice And Men. His shot often appears lumbering and awkward, and I find myself wondering whether Blake's gonna shoot, or squish all the air out of the ball and make a King Kong face instead.

    Don't get me wrong—I really like the kid.

    But for this contest, I like the Kidd.

    Advancing: Kidd-Gilchrist

No. 16 Andris Biedrins vs. No. 17 Rajon Rondo

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    I haven't seen Biedrins take many jumpers, and that may be to everyone's relief. His free throws are terrifying. Watch this one. Could it be that someone shot it down in mid-air? For Biedrins' sake, I sure hope so.

    Rondo's form isn't that bad. But man, his shots in general have just not gone in. And that may be the definition of ugly.

    However, from 16 to 23 feet this year, Rondo has surprised everyone, shooting over 45 percent.

    So I'll vote for the guy who can't even hit the rim when there's no one guarding him.

    Advancing: Biedrins

No. 1 Shawn Marion vs. No. 16 Andris Biedrins

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    If Marion's shot were a disease, it would take the guy on House to figure out what kind. It's that bizarre.

    And it kind of does look diseased.

    Advancing: Marion

No. 2 Joakim Noah vs. No. 15 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Noah looks like he's having a spasm after the shot is released. Each hand goes off and does its own thing. Kind of reminds me of that AT&T commercial where that guy is interviewing all the kids, and one kids waves his arm while waving his head.

    The kid defines "out of control."

    Advancing: Noah

No. 30 Tayshaun Prince vs. No. 14 Tyreke Evans

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    The chicken wings of Prince versus the prestidigitation of Evans.

    Did someone say chicken wings?

    Upset! Advancing: Prince

No. 29 Rashard Lewis vs. No. 20 Andre Miller

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    The horror that is Lewis' jumper versus the classical style of Miller.

    This is, after all, a freak tournament. So let's go with the dead man jumping.

    Advancing: Lewis

No. 5 Marcus Camby vs. No. 21 Bismack Biyombo

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    I've seen Camby's a lot more, so maybe I'm biased. But let's continue the dead-and-dying theme and go with the drowning Camby Man.

    Advancing: Camby

No. 6 DeMarcus Cousins vs. No. 11 Ersan Ilyasova

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    Cousins has had a tough year. He really deserves a break.

    Which is why his odd but effective jumper ends its run here.

    Upset! Advancing: Ilyasova

No. 26 Steve Blake vs. No. 11 Matt Bonner

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    Blake's shot is cooler. Which means it's less ugly. Which means whether or not Bonner participates in the three-point shootout and hits from outside, he's still got an outside chance at winning this freak show of a tourney.

    Advancing: Bonner

No. 8 Glen Davis vs. No. 9 Carlos Boozer

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    Davis' shot is weirder. But Boozer's shot is uglier—fitting for the alleged ugly display of greed I'll never be able to forgive him for.

    Advancing: Boozer

No. 1 Shawn Marion vs. No. 11 Ersan Ilyasova

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    The Matchstick Man is no match for the human Marion-ette.

    Advancing: Marion

No. 2 Joakim Noah vs. No. 10 Matt Bonner

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    Bonner's Cinderella run ends here. Noah's form makes me want to find an ark and hope the rain falls for 40 days and 40 nights.

    Could this be a 1-versus-2 finals?

    Advancing: Noah

No. 30 Tayshaun Prince vs. No. 9 Carlos Boozer

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    Boozer's shot is enough to make you want to start drinking, but Prince is already gawky. Combine that with his elbows-out jumper, and the whole package is just too weird to be denied.

    Upset! Advancing: Prince

No. 29 Rashard Lewis vs. No. 5 Marcus Camby

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    In the biggest upset of the tourney, Lewis stays alive...by looking dead.

    Upset! Advancing: Lewis

No. 1 Shawn Marion vs. No. 29 Rashard Lewis

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    Bad matchup for Lewis. His animated-corpse shot could have beaten anybody else's in the final four. But Marion's weird contortions finally bury Lewis—which is what he appears to have needed all along.

    Advancing: Marion

No. 2 Joakim Noah vs. No. 30 Tayshaun Prince

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    Prince's shot looks awkward and weird; Noah's looks uncoordinated. It's really close. But I'll opt for the one who looks like the greater fool.

    Advancing: Noah

No. 1 Shawn Marion vs. No. 2 Joakim Noah

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    After all the upsets, the surprises and the Cinderella stories, here we are with a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup.

    Marion's shot is weirder than weird. Noah's shot is less shot and more heaving prayer.

    I see Marion as Kobayashi and Noah as Joey Chestnut. And it's time for the challenger to dethrone the champion.

    Shawn, your shot is butt ugly. But it's no longer the ugliest.


    Joakim Noah