NBA Youngsters Who Need to Fix Their Jumper This Offseason

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 10, 2013

NBA Youngsters Who Need to Fix Their Jumper This Offseason

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    Almost all young prospects enter the league with the same weakness: They can't shoot.

    Sometimes, it takes guys five years to develop a consistent jumper. Some never develop one at all.

    It's especially important for guards. Think about it—a jump shot is essentially a counter to rim protection. Since it's tough for 6'3'' guards to pick up easy points in the paint, a balanced outside jumper becomes a higher-percentage shot.

    For players who can't create their own shot, a spot-up jumper increases their scoring opportunities without the ball.

    Without an improved jumper in the repertoire, none of the following players will ever maximize their potential.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made two three-pointers in 78 games as a rookie. This wouldn't be that big of a deal if he were a 4 or a 5.

    But as an NBA small forward, Kidd-Gilchrist will have to threaten defenses as a spot-up threat.

    Without a jumper, his scoring opportunities will be limited to slashes, putbacks and transition opportunities. But with one, he can position himself to score without the ball when the game is slowed down.

    He's got some touch within 18 feet. M.K.G. did shoot 75 percent from the stripe. Extending his range out to the arc will increase his purpose on the floor.

    The Bobcats recently hired Mark Price as an assistant, hopefully to work with guys like Kidd-Gilchrist.

Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

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    It's tough to project how big of a role (if any) Rajon Rondo will play in Boston this year. If that ACL injury keeps him out, Avery Bradley should get a ton of reps playing on and off the ball.

    Bradley shot just 32 percent from downtown during his third year with Boston. He's also missed 23-of-30 combined three-point attempts between two postseasons. Considering how quick he is, defenders will continue playing off and forcing him to take the jumper.

    If Bradley wants to take that next step as an NBA-level scorer, his jumper and long ball must come around. If they don't, he'll never be a consistent offensive threat.

Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers

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    Lance Stephenson has gotten to the step just before the one that gets guys paid. And a jumper can get him over it.

    He made his presence felt during the 2013 playoffs by playing physical defense and attacking the rim.

    But his three-ball was a mess.

    Some of his misses were bad, and you could tell that his mechanics were off. In 19 postseason games, Stephenson shot 18-of-64 for 28 percent. He finished the regular season at just 33 percent.

    An improved jumper would not only give the Pacers a much-needed offensive weapon, but it would increase Stephenson's value on the free-agent market. And for a former second-round pick, that's important.

Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    With Kevin Martin bolting for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder will need some extra scoring out of Reggie Jackson.

    But his career 22 percent three-point stroke shows he's a long way from maximizing his offensive potential.

    Jackson has electric athleticism and excels at getting into the paint and finishing at the rim. But imagine how much better he'd be if he were a threat from outside the arc. Even a 30 percent three-point stroke would increase his scoring potency. Jackson was a dismal 24-of-104 from downtown this year after shooting just 13-of-62 as a rookie.

    If Jackson wants to get paid like a future sixth man for a championship contender, he'll need to improve his jumper in 2013-14.

John Wall, Washington Wizards

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    There may not be a point guard out there with a better mix of size, athleticism and instincts for the position. John Wall is a true point guard with incredible physical tools.

    But he's made just 15 three-pointers over his last 110 games.

    By lacking range, Wall limits himself to lower-percentage shots on the move and amongst the trees. A three-ball would increase his scoring opportunities and make him a bigger threat off ball screens.

    If Wall develops a jumper to go with his 17-point, eight-assist career averages, we could be talking about one of the more dynamic playmakers in the NBA.

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Considering that Ricky Rubio lacks the finishing ability of guys like Reggie Jackson and John Wall, it's even more important for him to develop an outside shot.

    Rubio shot under 30 percent from downtown this past season, which is one of the reasons he's not considered much of a scoring threat. He's averaged 10 points per game in back-to-back years, and though his strengths revolve around passing, the Wolves can certainly use some extra offense.

    Rubio has to be more aggressive looking for his shot if he wants to take that next step as an NBA playmaker.

Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Michael Carter-Williams has a weakness that everybody knows about. And the NBA is going to pound it.

    He shot just 35-of-119 from downtown for 29 percent this past season. In the Big East, teams quickly picked up on this and eventually dropped under screens and eliminated driving lanes.

    Carter-Williams struggled during a significant portion of conference play.

    The best game of his college career game came against Indiana during this year's NCAA tournament, when Carter-Williams tied a career high with three three-pointers.

    Forget his rookie year—Carter-Williams' ceiling and future will depend directly on his ability to knock down jumpers.

    How's that for pressure?

Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans

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    It seemed hopeless for Tyreke Evans after three years. We saw his three-point percentage fluctuate from 25 percent to 29 percent and back to 20 percent—bad numbers and awful numbers.

    But last season, Evans showed signs of hope. He made a career-high 45 threes on a career-high 34 percent.

    Now in New Orleans with Jrue Holiday running the show, Evans should get the green light to focus on scoring. This would be a great year for him to shoot it well from the outside, given his projected role wearing a Pelican jersey.