Every NBA Team's Best Pure Shooter and Overall Power Ranking
How many sounds are sweeter than the swish created by a basketball ripping through the bottom of the net after completely bypassing the rim and the accompanying clang of ball on iron?
Trust me, I'm very familiar with that clang. It just makes the swish all the more beautiful when it happens.
NBA players get to hear that wonderful sound significantly more often, and it never gets old. Even for the 30 players featured here—the best pure shooters on each and every team in the Association—it's not possible to grow tired of the sound that represents basketball perfection.
So, how exactly do you determine the top pure shooter for each squad?
Is it the player who makes the most three-pointers? The one who shoots the highest percentage from downtown? The guy you want taking the final shot in a three-point game as the buzzer is sounding?
You won't find the proper answer up above.
In order to quantitatively make these decisions, I've created an original metric, one simply called "pure shooting." You can find a full explanation on the next slide, then you'll get to see the rankings of each team's best pure shooter.
What Is Pure Shooting?
The initial thought behind pure shooting came from total offense created, a metric that I created along with B/R's Kelly Scaletta in order to quantify offensive impact in one number.
This time, though, only one factor matters: shooting the ball.
How the shots were created doesn't matter, nor does the team's offensive rebounding or anything of that ilk. It's just about the percentage of the time that a player can put the ball in the basket.
A basketball court can be split up into five different areas, as sites like Hoopdata.com have done. Those zones are as follows: at the rim, three to nine feet, 10 to 15 feet, 16 to 23 feet (technically, the 23 is a fluid number because of the break in the three-point arc, but I'm simplifying it to 23) and three-pointers.
Each of the zones also has an average field-goal percentage based upon all the shots taken by NBA players over the course of the 2012-13 campaign. Those averages are as follows, according to Hoopdata:
- At the rim: 64.7 percent
- Three to nine feet: 39.9 percent
- 10 to 15 feet: 41.9 percent
- 16 to 23 feet: 38.4 percent
- Three-pointers: 35.9 percent
The metric known as "pure shooting" is derived from those zones. It's split up into multiple components, and each component score is calculated by finding the difference between the player's field-goal percentage from the zone in question and the average value (so that a positive score represents a better-than-average performance), then by multiplying that difference by the number of attempts per game from the area.
However, there are a few wrinkles.
Scoring at the rim isn't factored into the equation. While shots there are technically, well, shots, they aren't what we've come to think of as pure shooting. That involves more than just layups and dunks, so rim attempts don't matter.
Additionally, the three-point component receives a multiplier of 1.5 to account for the fact that a three-pointer is worth 1.5 times more than a two-pointer. For the purposes of justification, consider the following hypothetical.
- Player A takes 10 shots from three-point range and 10 shots from three to nine feet. He makes 49.9 percent of the closer shots (10 percent above the average) and 55.9 percent of the further ones (20 percent above the average).
- Player B takes 10 shots from three-point range and 10 shots from three to nine feet. He makes 59.9 percent of the closer shots (20 percent above the average) and 45.9 percent of the further ones (10 percent above the average).
If there were no multiplier, the players would receive the same pure shooting score. But that's illogical. Player A is clearly the superior shooter because he's providing more points for his team with the same number of attempts, even though he's the same total percentage above average.
I calculated pure scoring for 172 players' 2012-13 campaigns by adding up all of these components. In order to qualify for the rankings, a player had to be on the court for at least 24 minutes per game (half the length of a typical game, as it's necessary to play in order to make enough of a shooting impact to matter) and suit up in at least 20 contests.
From there, I've found each team's top representative, based on the current rosters, not where the players called home in 2012-13. These rankings show each team's top qualified pure shooter, sorted from the worst of the best through the best of the best.
You'll also see the individual component scores for each player, just for your added edification.
30. Phoenix Suns: Marcin Gortat (Minus-10.31 Pure Shooting)
Three-Point Value: Zero
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-3.36
10 to 15 Feet Value: Minus-2.75
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-4.20
If you're looking for a major reason that the Phoenix Suns aren't going to be particularly competitive during the 2013-14 season, this would be it.
They simply don't have much established shooting on the roster, and precious few rotation members were on the court for at least 24 minutes per game in 2012-13.
In fact, P.J. Tucker (minus-13.92 pure shooting), Goran Dragic (minus-29.06) and Marcin Gortat are the only eligible players. Remember, players must have played, on average, at least half the length of a standard NBA game and appeared in 20 games to gain eligibility for these rankings.
Gortat isn't a good pure shooter, but he's still the best on the Suns thanks to his competency in pick-and-pop situations. While he doesn't thrive from any spot on the court, he posts consistent numbers even when getting further from the basket, simply because he only takes good looks.
From 16 feet and beyond, the Polish big man made 36 percent of his 1.4 looks per game, and he only tempted fate by lofting up three triples throughout the 2012-13 season.
Before I depress Suns fans any more, let's move on to another team filled with sad shooters. You know, because misery loves company.
29. Philadelphia 76ers: Thaddeus Young (Minus-6.95)
Three-Point Value: Minus-3.51
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-9.86
10 to 15 Feet Value: Minus-6.39
Three to Nine Feet Value: 12.81
The Philadelphia 76ers' best shooter is still in the negatives, but at least he's not into double figures on the wrong side of zero.
Still, this isn't very promising for the Sixers, which I suppose can be taken as a positive seeing as the ultimate goal of this season is to be as bad as possible in order to maximize the franchise's chances of landing Andrew Wiggins.
Thaddeus Young isn't known as a shooter. He's a slasher, a combo forward who thrives when he gets to the rim.
In fact, Synergy Sports (subscription required) shows that he scored only 0.83 points per possession in spot-up situations, the No. 266 mark in the NBA. Young's jumper just doesn't cut it, and he's able to remain just slightly below average here thanks to his prowess from three to nine feet.
From that closest analyzed range, the former Georgia Tech standout made 46 percent of his attempts, and he took 2.1 per game. That percentage was enough to put him in the upper half among all 172 players that I evaluated (40th, in fact), and it essentially functioned as Young's saving grace.
Philadelphia is hoping that someone can step up and steal the forward's "crown" in 2013-14. If someone can't, the future will look rather dismal in the City of Brotherly Love.
28. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Jennings (Minus-1.67)
Three-Point Value: 13.92
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-4.34
10 to 15 Feet Value: 2.40
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-13.65
The Detroit Pistons now have a promising roster, but this essentially proves that floor spacing is going to be a major issue unless Chauncey Billups (didn't play enough last year to be eligible) experiences a resurgent season or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope steps up in a major way during his rookie campaign.
Andre Drummond clearly isn't going to be the best pure shooter on the roster this early in his career—those free-throw numbers—and he's not qualified anyway.
The rest of the standouts in Detroit aren't particularly impressive pure shooters either.
Brandon Jennings was the best of the bunch, and he's just about a league-average shooter. A pure shooting score of zero indicates complete and utter mediocrity, and only six qualified players in the Association came closer to a goose egg than the shot-happy southpaw.
He's certainly better than Greg Monroe, a skilled center who shouldn't ever stray from the basket. The Georgetown product checked in at a pathetic minus-44.68, and he was still far better than the Pistons' big summer acquisition.
That would be Josh Smith, whose minus-56.68 left him as the second-worst pure shooter in the league. The worst was one of Jennings' former teammates. I'll let you guess who.
Better and smarter shots are a must this year in Detroit.
27. Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward (12.96)
Three-Point Value: 28.56
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-4.06
10 to 15 Feet Value: Minus-2.90
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-8.64
Finally, we break into the positives!
The Utah Jazz are in an interesting situation here, because they only have a single qualified player: Gordon Hayward. They had far more eligible guys last year, but they all departed for different locations and were replaced by young guns ready to experience significant upticks in playing time.
While Hayward is obviously a more-than-competent shooter, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Trey Burke and Brandon Rush challenge for his featured spot during the 2013-14 campaign.
The baby-faced wing player finished at No. 66 among all qualified players, sandwiched between Greivis Vasquez and—wait for it—DeAndre Jordan, who did quite well thanks to his extreme disdain for shots that aren't right at the rim.
Hayward wasn't a particularly effective player around the basket, but his three-point shooting did wonders for his cause. The young man who once almost beat Duke for the national championship shot 41.5 percent beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game.
He's steadily increased his willingness to let fly from downtown throughout his career, and functioning as the de facto go-to guy in Salt Lake City will only help him out.
26. Houston Rockets: Chandler Parsons (16.71)
Three-Point Value: 20.28
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-5.28
10 to 15 Feet Value: 1.62
Three to Nine Feet Value: 0.09
I was actually a bit surprised that Chandler Parsons wasn't ranked higher. The Houston Rockets' best wing player has a nice, efficient style of play that prominently features his three-point stroke on a regular basis.
However, Parsons was hurt by his long two-pointers.
He shot only 34 percent from 16 to 23 feet, and that's well below the league average of 38.4. When you're striving to be an elite pure shooter, it's quite important either to meet or exceed the league averages in every category or completely minimize the attempts from that spot. Parsons obviously didn't do the former, and his 1.2 attempts per game from the range in question don't cut it for the latter.
You might also be surprised that the Rockets' representative isn't James Harden.
While the bearded shooting guard is an ultra-efficient player, his greatness stems from his finishing ability at the rim and knack for getting to the charity stripe. Neither of those are factored in here, and Harden's mid-range game isn't even good enough to give him a positive score.
Don't worry, though, if you're a Rockets fan.
You can still expect great things from both of these players in 2013-14, especially with Dwight Howard drawing all kinds of defensive attention in the paint.
25. Toronto Raptors: Amir Johnson (18.21)
Three-Point Value: 0.78
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-2.52
10 to 15 Feet Value: 0.63
Three to Nine Feet Value: 19.32
Amir Johnson is usually a bit of an afterthought because he only scored 10 points per game in 2012-13, but that doesn't mean he struggles as a shooter. It's just tough for him to get a lot of looks while playing alongside Rudy Gay (minus-39.35), DeMar DeRozan (minus-6.34) and Kyle Lowry (minus-15.18).
The big man excels here because he's a self-aware player.
He doesn't take looks that aren't there, and he rarely fires away from outside the paint, but he's also not explosive enough to finish right at the rim. As a result, he's made a career out of drilling attempts from three to nine feet.
Although he's fairly effective with his deep two-pointers (only when they're open), Johnson still thrives in that close range. He shot 56 percent there, a mark topped by only LeBron James, Ray Allen, Devin Harris, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. And if you combine the attempts per game of the aforementioned players not named LeBron, that's how many times per contest Johnson lofted up attempts.
He'll continue to be a nice complementary scorer north of the border.
24. Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic (18.70)
Three-Point Value: Zero
16 to 23 Feet Value: 10.8
10 to 15 Feet Value: 4.29
Three to Nine Feet Value: 3.61
Nikola Vucevic started to get some credit as an emerging center last year, but some areas of his game are overlooked. It's fairly well established that he's an elite rebounder, as 20-board games tend to promote that type of reputation.
He just doesn't get credit as a good shooter.
Vucevic's shot chart is filled with two types of looks: shots right around the basket and mid-range jumpers that aren't in the paint.
Excluding three-point tries (since the big man only took three out of desperation at the end of the shot clock), he was above 40 percent from all relevant ranges. Somehow he was actually least effective from three to nine feet.
In that zone, Vucevic hit 41.8 percent of his looks. He was at 45.8 from 10 to 15 feet and 42 percent from 16 to 23. Those are all great numbers for a center primarily viewed as a rebounding stud with emerging defensive skills.
Just another indication that the Magic already have some great building blocks in place.
23. Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson (19.85)
Three-Point Value: Minus-7.23
16 to 23 Feet Value: 14.82
10 to 15 Feet Value: Minus-11.20
Three to Nine Feet Value: 23.46
Let's roll with another big man here.
The Charlotte Bobcats picked up a dynamic offensive player when they signed Al Jefferson to a big free-agent deal. He's viewed as one of the best back-to-the-basket scorers in basketball, but it's not like Jefferson struggles as a mid-range shooter.
From 16 to 23 feet, the former Utah Jazz standout hit 41 percent of his 5.7 attempts per game in 2012-13. Given the inherent tradeoff of volume and efficiency, that's quite an impressive combination. Most players can't maintain plus-40 percentages when firing away that often, and LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan were the only players to shoot from there with greater frequency.
Jefferson will have his work cut out for him if he wants to remain at No. 1 on the Bobcats roster in 2013-14, though. In addition to all the young guns who are constantly improving, Gerald Henderson is going to be a big challenger.
The 2-guard finished with a pure shooting score of 17.87, and he could easily close the gap as his jumper continues to improve.
22. Boston Celtics: Brandon Bass (24.06)
Three-Point Value: Zero
16 to 23 Feet Value: 24.32
10 to 15 Feet Value: 2.86
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-3.12
Brandon Bass is one of the best mid-range shooters in the NBA, even if he's not offensively dynamic enough to function as a first or second option in any competitive offensive system.
He's also the first player featured here who ranked in the top 50 of the overall rankings, checking in at No. 48.
Bass struggles around the basket and often avoids taking those looks, but the same can't be said for the jumpers he takes outside the paint. Interestingly enough, though, Synergy shows that Bass thrives as an isolation jump-shooter, not a spot-up player.
The forward made 44.1 percent of his 1.3 looks per game from 10 to 15 feet, and that's an exemplary combination. But it still pales in comparison to the next zone back.
From 16 to 23 feet, Bass drilled 46 percent of his 3.2 shots per contest, making him one of the most proficient shooters of long twos in basketball. He'll continue to get a lot of those looks as long as the Boston Celtics can provide enough protection for him with other quality scorers.
If Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo can't carry the load, Bass will struggle to match these numbers.
21. New Orleans Pelicans: Ryan Anderson (25.01)
Three-Point Value: 23.81
16 to 23 Feet Value: 11.76
10 to 15 Feet Value: Minus-2.64
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-7.92
Threes on threes on threes.
That's what it's all about for Ryan Anderson, who attempted more three-pointers per game than anybody not named Stephen Curry. And he connected on quite a few of them.
Throughout the 2012-13 campaign for the New Orleans Hornets, the stretch-4 made 38.2 percent of his looks from downtown. While some players did manage to shoot over 40 percent when beyond the arc, precious few were able to do so while firing away with such reckless abandon.
The trailing three-pointer in transition has become one of the deadliest shots in Anderson's arsenal, and he's likely to get more open looks now that the Jrue Holiday-Eric Gordon-Tyreke Evans trio is ready to tear up the bayou. He just won't have as many opportunities.
If you're curious how that trio ranked, Holiday was at minus-29.02, Gordon at minus-33.60 and Evans at minus-39.54. All three of them need to start taking smarter shots, and they should now that they're each surrounded by significantly better offensive talent.
I wouldn't be even remotely surprised if the whole trio was in the green once they gained chemistry together.
20. Denver Nuggets: Nate Robinson (28.02)
Three-Point Value: 28.98
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-3.64
10 to 15 Feet Value: 1.28
Three to Nine Feet Value: 1.40
The Denver Nuggets were an awful shooting team in 2012-13. Still burned into my brain is the early-season game against the Portland Trail Blazers in which a Ty Lawson jumper in the closing seconds was the first make from outside the paint.
It shouldn't be at all earth-shattering that the best pure shooter going into 2013-14 is a player who spent the last year on a different squad. Danilo Gallinari was in the positives, but his poor mid-range shooting kept him from coming even remotely close to Nate Robinson.
Only 19 players in the Association provided more valuable contributions from behind the three-point arc.
The next-strongest member of the Nuggets was Gallo, checking in at No. 43. And since the Italian forward is a much worse mid-range shooter than Robinson, who consistently amazes with his ability to lift up his diminutive frame over defenders, that's not a good combination for his hopes at a featured spot.
Robinson will play a big part in Denver, even if the exact role is up in the air. He's inevitably going to end up spending time at shooting guard, playing alongside either Lawson or Andre Miller.
19. Washington Wizards: Martell Webster (33.19)
Three-Point Value: 40.64
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-1.96
10 to 15 Feet Value: 0.48
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-5.97
The Washington Wizards knew what they were doing when they extended Martell Webster's contract rather than letting him walk away to a different team.
Even though he'll presumably be taking a seat on the bench and letting Otto Porter begin his trial by fire, Webster will be a key part of the Wizards' playoff push with his torrid three-point shooting. In 2012-13, the swingman made 42.2 percent of his 4.3 three-point looks per game.
On the previous slide I mentioned isolating three-point value. Let's do it again here.
Only seven players provided more value from behind the arc: Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, Jose Calderon, Danny Green, Kevin Martin, Shane Battier and Mike Dunleavy. That's an elite group of players to find yourself in, and it's a pretty clear indication of why Webster is on the verge of elite status as a pure shooter.
It's even enough to compensate for his utter incompetence from three to nine feet. Somehow, Webster made only 20 percent of his attempts there, a mark that beats only five of the qualified players throughout the NBA.
Webster's potency from the outside and competency from deep mid-range is enough to keep him in impressive position, but those struggles in the interior of the defense keep him from rising any higher.
18. Chicago Bulls: Mike Dunleavy (34.68)
Three-Point Value: 41.40
16 to 23 Feet Value: Minus-6.8
10 to 15 Feet Value: Minus-1.72
Three to Nine Feet Value: 1.80
Speaking of elite three-point shooters...
Mike Dunleavy may well be the most underrated sniper in basketball, because very few people voluntarily tuned into Milwaukee Bucks games last season before the massacre against the Miami Heat.
He even makes that jersey look good decent.
The difference between Dunleavy and Martell Webster, small that it may be, stems from their mid-range work. Regardless of the zone in question—even from three to nine feet—the new member of the Chicago Bulls can actually hit shots with consistency.
His worst range, in terms of percentage, was from 10 to 15 feet, and his 33.3 percent shooting was mitigated by his utter refusal to ever loft up shots there.
The Bulls were a decent shooting team, and it's up to Dunleavy to fill the long-range void left by the departures of both Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson.
I know many of you are curious about Derrick Rose, so let me fill you in there as well. While he didn't qualify for these rankings because he didn't play even a single possession in 2012-13, I've run his 2011-12 numbers.
He checked in at minus-35.92, a clear sign that he needs to improve that shooting in order to have a shot at regaining his spot in the competition with Chris Paul for the title of the NBA's best point guard.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol (44.49)
Three-Point Value: Minus-8.64
16 to 23 Feet Value: 23.22
10 to 15 Feet Value: 15.75
Three to Nine Feet Value: 14.16
Is there anything on the basketball court that Marc Gasol doesn't do well?
He's the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, passes the ball as well as any big man in the league (those behind-the-back dimes to backdoor cutters are things of beauty), and still has time to emerge as one of the best pure shooters out there.
Gasol checks in at No. 24 among all qualified players, and no true center ranks higher. There are big men who play the position ahead of him, but no standouts who only play at the 5. In fact, the next center in the rankings is Al Horford, coming in at No. 31. Then you have to drop all the way to No. 44 in order to find Brook Lopez.
The Spanish 7-footer makes no pretense of shooting the ball from three-point range. He just thrives everywhere else.
His worst range is three to nine feet, and he still makes 45.8 percent of his looks. For a Memphis Grizzlies squad that struggles to shoot the ball, it's this type of scoring ability that makes Gasol all the more valuable.
Now he just needs to become more willing to step up his point-producing role with the team, especially as they try to hit an elite offensive level without adding any prominent pieces during the offseason.
Mike Conley (pure scoring was 18.16) will have to do his part as well.
16. New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony (50.47)
Three-Point Value: 18.60
16 to 23 Feet Value: 24.84
10 to 15 Feet Value: 12.75
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-5.72
While it may surprise you to see Carmelo Anthony ranked in the bottom half of this slideshow, keep in mind three things.
- He ranks No. 21 overall and is most assuredly one of the premier shooters in basketball.
- We're not even factoring in free-throw shooting and finishing ability at the rim, two areas that would both help 'Melo's case rather significantly.
- He thrives creating difficult looks and scoring in the face of pressure, which helps him as a scorer, not a shooter.
In fact, Anthony ranks No. 5 by my "pure scorer" metric, so the combination of a No. 5 and No. 21 finish leave no doubt that he's an elite offensive player.
The problem here is that Anthony has one weak zone, and he doesn't make much of an effort to stay away from it. He shot 34.7 percent from three to nine feet but took 1.1 attempts per game, and that's a rough combo when dealing with the truly elite players.
Unless he either raises that mark (whether through better efficiency or less volume) or improves his three-point percentage, it's going to be tough for 'Melo to rise any higher.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge (50.61)
Three-Point Value: Minus-6.48
16 to 23 Feet Value: 18.98
10 to 15 Feet Value: 19.71
Three to Nine Feet Value: 18.40
LaMarcus Aldridge is one of those players who thrives from any spot on the court, unless you ask him to step behind the three-point arc and drill triples.
From three to nine feet, the Portland Trail Blazers big man hit 47.9 percent of his attempts, and he took 2.3 per game.
The next zone back—10 to 15 feet—saw Aldridge hit 49.2 percent of his 2.7 tries per contest. And from 16 to 23 feet, the power forward connected on 41 percent of his looks while taking a league-high 7.3 shots per game.
Those are all impressive numbers, and it's enough for him to beat out all the contenders in Rip City.
Wesley Matthews wasn't far behind, checking in at 41.89, good for No. 26 among all qualified players. Damian Lillard (34.19) and Nicolas Batum (6.94) did quite well for themselves too.
As soon as the new backups start clicking in the Portland rotation, the Blazers have the look of an offensive powerhouse.
14. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Patterson (51.19)
Three-Point Value: 7.83
16 to 23 Feet Value: 25.68
10 to 15 Feet Value: 6.57
Three to Nine Feet Value: 11.11
Here's your surprise entry in the top half of the rankings.
Not only does Patrick Patterson check in at No. 14 in this slideshow, but he was the No. 18 player overall in terms of pure shooting. Who expected that one?
If you're raising your hand, you're either a diehard Sacramento Kings fan, or you're lying.
But Patterson truly excels from every area of the court, and the only thing holding him back is a lack of opportunity. It would be a travesty if Carl Landry stole too many minutes away from him during the 2013-14 season.
In terms of mid-range shooting, Patterson's worst range is from 16 to 23 feet. He "only" makes 49.1 percent of his attempts there, and that just isn't as stellar as the other two areas.
Well, just in case you aren't, let's add in the three-point shooting.
Patterson took 1.8 three-pointers per game and still beat the league average by making 38.8 percent of them. The kid can shoot, and he's still only 24 years old.
It's time for Sac-Town to hand him the reins instead of letting him play only 25 minutes per game again.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Martin (52.55)
Three-Point Value: 48.24
16 to 23 Feet Value: 6.90
10 to 15 Feet Value: 4.97
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-7.56
This is why the Minnesota Timberwolves splurged to acquire Kevin Martin during the offseason.
They desperately needed shooting from the wing positions, and that's exactly what K-Mart brings to the table. In spades.
Martin is viewed as a great offensive player, but that's primarily because it's so easy to tout his proficiency from downtown. His mid-range shooting often gets overlooked.
During the 2012-13 season, Martin made 49 percent of his shots from 10 to 15 feet and 43 percent from 16 to 23. Those are both quite impressive, and they'll help him provide plenty of spacing for the 'Wolves. The kick-out from Ricky Rubio to Martin is going to be in effect early and often.
Also of note in Minnesota is that Kevin Love has to rebound.
I mean that in both senses of the word, as his work on the glass is crucial, and he has to start shooting better. In order to spare the feelings of Timberwolves fans, I won't publish his unqualified pure shooting score, but just know that it would have been dead last by a rather large margin.
Love and Martin are key for this team in 2013-14, especially if it hopes to make that playoff push that was supposed to happen during the last go-around before the injury imp took over.
12. San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green (53.34)
Three-Point Value: 54.6
16 to 23 Feet Value: 1.44
10 to 15 Feet Value: 0.86
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-3.56
When you talk about the NBA's premier sharpshooters, it's tough to leave Danny Green off the list.
That's what tends to happen after setting the record for most three-pointers made in an NBA Finals, as Green did against the Miami Heat with 27 makes. He even drilled seven in just nine attempts during Game 3.
There's hot, red-hot and then Green-hot.
But this was no fluke.
Green excelled from beyond the arc throughout the 2012-13 season, which essentially served as his breakout campaign. Over the course of the year, he attempted 5.2 triples per contest and hit 42.9 percent of them. The 54.6 pure shooting points that he gleaned from his three-point shooting alone are less than only those earned by Kyle Korver, Stephen Curry and Jose Calderon.
As the shooting guard continues to improve and gains more comfort on short jumpers, the sky is the limit for him as a pure shooter.
He must continue to improve if he wants to hold off Tony Parker. The French point guard was only barely short of Green's mark, checking in at 52.73.
11. Indiana Pacers: David West (53.55)
Three-Point Value: Minus-6.66
16 to 23 Feet Value: 31.16
10 to 15 Feet Value: 7.35
Three to Nine Feet Value: 21.70
It's all about the mid-range game for David West.
He's one of the premier pick-and-pop players in basketball, and both George Hill and D.J. Augustin found him open in those situations quite often throughout the 2012-13 campaign.
From 16 to 23 feet, West shot 46 percent while taking 4.1 attempts per game.
But what makes West even more special is that he was more than just good when he got closer to the hoop. He was similarly potent from each of the two other mid-range zones on the court, and he's only missing a three-point shot in his quest to become a complete shooter.
If you were expecting to see Paul George show up for the Indiana Pacers, think again. Although the swingman broke out in a big way, his inefficient shooting gave him a minus-21.61 pure shooting score.
Even Roy Hibbert was better than that.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo (54.41)
Three-Point Value: 30.96
16 to 23 Feet Value: 8.32
10 to 15 Feet Value: 4.73
Three to Nine Feet Value: 10.40
For a player who typically gets called a three-point specialist, O.J. Mayo was surprisingly potent from all areas of the court throughout the 2012-13 season.
Although he couldn't maintain his scorching pace from the start of his first season with the Dallas Mavericks, Mayo still finished the year as a great shooter from downtown.
That just wasn't all he did well.
For example, the new member of the Milwaukee Bucks—one who's likely going to lead the team in scoring—shot 52.9 percent from three to nine feet and 46.2 percent from 10 to 15. His long two-pointers could use a bit of work, or he could do the efficient thing and completely cut them out of his game.
Mayo also isn't the only elite pure shooter on the roster.
Ersan Ilyasova might not be getting a featured spot, but he was still better than quite a few players in this slideshow. He finished 25th overall, placing him just behind Marc Gasol with a score of 42.86.
9. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul (56.23)
Three-Point Value: Minus-15.35
16 to 23 Feet Value: 39.44
10 to 15 Feet Value: 13.77
Three to Nine Feet Value: 18.36
Although players like J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley did well in these rankings, it still shouldn't surprise you to see Chris Paul featured so late in the article.
The point guard thrives on efficiency, and that's what it's all about here.
Well, kind of.
Volume matters too, but only when coupled with efficiency.
CP3 has become the best point guard in the NBA—and some would argue that he's tracking toward Magic Johnson as the class of the historical position if he can win a few rings—because he thrives as a mid-range shooter, among other things. Paul's game is just about complete, and this is one of many exemplary building blocks.
He shot 50 percent or better from each of the two-point zones, and the only thing holding him back was his performance beyond the arc.
Paul finished with a pure shooting score of 56.23, and that's factoring in a minus-15.35 value for his three-point shooting. The floor general is capable of hitting his outside looks, but his 32.8 percent mark leaves him shy of the league average.
If he can develop a more consistent deep jumper, the results would be scary.
8. Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Nash (73.48)
Three-Point Value: 30.81
16 to 23 Feet Value: 26.68
10 to 15 Feet Value: 13.92
Three to Nine Feet Value: 2.07
Although I figured that Nash would do very well, given his incredible ability to score in volume while chasing the 50/40/90 club, I wasn't entirely certain whether or not Kobe scored enough to make up for the misses.
As you can tell, he didn't.
Kobe finished with a pure shooting score of 20.87, still a respectable mark, but nowhere near elite enough to challenge Nash. Pau was even further behind, checking in at minus-17.51 and confirming the suspicion that he really did have a down year.
Nash is just an ageless wonder.
He hits so many open shots, and he consistently leaves defenses stunned with his ability to drop in contested floaters and strange-looking mid-range jumpers. If Mike D'Antoni stops using him as a decoy and spot-up shooter, allowing him instead to handle the rock with more frequency, he could challenge for a top-five spot in the rankings.
Even while he's pushing 40, Nash is that good at shooting.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving (73.80)
Three-Point Value: 22.56
16 to 23 Feet Value: 25.08
10 to 15 Feet Value: 17.76
Three to Nine Feet Value: 8.40
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best shooting point guard rotation in the Association, and they could challenge Golden State for backcourt supremacy if Dion Waiters proves that his second-half self was the real deal.
Jarrett Jack isn't featured here, and the newly acquired floor general finished No. 10 among all qualified players with a pure shooting score of 65.81. It just wasn't enough to dethrone Kyrie Irving, although perhaps Cleveland fans don't want any sort of king-related terminology like "dethrone" to be used in reference to their team's star.
Irving was just born to score the basketball.
With his deft touch, great shooting ability from the outside and yo-yo handles, he can capably put the ball in the basket from any area of the court. It's tough to find a weakness in his shooting stats, but if I had to pick nits (which I do), I'd point to his 39.1 percent shooting from downtown as what needs the most improvement.
Still, Irving is sixth in my pure scorer rankings and finished eighth in pure shooting due to some teams having multiple studs. And neither of those are the most impressive numbers.
That would be 21—Irving's age.
6. Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson (74.73)
Three-Point Value: 13.20
16 to 23 Feet Value: 21.12
10 to 15 Feet Value: 8.70
Three to Nine Feet Value: 31.71
The Brooklyn Nets are another one of those teams for which I had no idea who would emerge as the featured shooting representative.
- Joe Johnson, 74.73
- Kevin Garnett, 60.97
- Jason Terry, 33.96
- Deron Williams, 33.33
- Brook Lopez, 25.11
- Paul Pierce, 20.39
Brooklyn boasts six players in the top 55.
If you're looking for an indication that this is going to be a dangerous offensive team, there you have it.
I'll just let that sink in and move on to the top five now.
5. Miami Heat: LeBron James (81.62)
Three-Point Value: 23.27
16 to 23 Feet Value: 29.64
10 to 15 Feet Value: -1.44
Three to Nine Feet Value: 30.15
Is there anything LeBron James can't do?
Once viewed as a player without a consistent jumper, LeBron has put a lot of time into that aspect of his game. He's now emerged as one of the elite shooters in basketball.
Did you ever think there would be a season in which James generated the 26th-most value from his three-point shooting? That's how much he's improved.
From downtown alone, James earned 23.27 pure shooting points. If that were the only part of his game that counted, he'd still rank in the top 50.
In fact, he'd finish at No. 1 if we factored in shooting at the rim, but since that's not really shooting in the strictest sense of the word, it's not being included. And he still finishes at No. 5 in these rankings and No. 6 overall.
The reigning MVP was above average from three of the four zones, but he truly stands out from three to nine feet. Only Joe Johnson added more value from that range, and the difference was rather miniscule. The difference between LeBron and the rest of the field (which begins with Blake Griffin at No. 3 and ends with Greg Monroe at No. 172) is not so small.
Pure shooting is still not even the best part of LeBron's game, and he's still right up there with the best of them. That should say a lot about his unquestionable status as the best basketball player in the world.
4. Atlanta Hawks: Kyle Korver (96.44)
Three-Point Value: 82.32
16 to 23 Feet Value: 15.48
10 to 15 Feet Value: 0.96
Three to Nine Feet Value: Minus-2.32
If you're looking for the ceiling of a three-point specialist, here it is.
Kyle Korver's outside shooting is just unbelievable, and it makes up for his lack of impact throughout the rest of the offensive sets. The Ashton Kutcher lookalike isn't a bad mid-range shooter—he's actually above average from 10 to 15 feet and 16 to 23 feet—but his three-point shooting just stands out that much.
During the 2012-13 campaign, Korver was the only player in the same class as Stephen Curry. He made 45.7 percent of his triples while attempting 5.6 per game. In the history of the NBA, any idea how many players have met or exceeded those numbers?
The answer is just two.
Korver and Glen Rice during the 1996-97 season. Not even Curry was able to join that ultra-exclusive club.
Thanks to this perimeter potency, Korver earned 82.32 pure shooting points from three-point range alone. Even if he hadn't taken a single shot from inside the arc, he'd have beaten LeBron James in the rankings, as well as everyone else below the MVP.
If your jaw isn't on the floor, it should be.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant (114.46)
Three-Point Value: 35.06
16 to 23 Feet Value: 17.48
10 to 15 Feet Value: 36.00
Three to Nine Feet Value: 25.92
You're surprised that Kevin Durant is coming in at No. 3. Not because you thought the Oklahoma City Thunder's superstar would be popping up sooner, but because you were certain he'd rank either No. 2 or No. 1.
He is the best scorer in basketball, after all.
However, here we are at No. 3.
And just focus on the gap between Durant and Kyle Korver for a second. They're separated by 18.02 pure shooting points, which is a massive difference, especially this high up in the rankings.
The difference between Durant and the remaining two players is that he isn't über-elite in any one category. He's elite in all of them, but there isn't one zone of the court that just really makes you drop your jaw more than the others.
In order to ascend to No. 1, Durant either has to develop that outstanding zone or improve his shooting from 16 to 23 feet. While taking 3.8 attempts per game, he shot "only" 43 percent from the range. The 17.48 pure shooting points that were added from that zone are great but not high enough for him to jump into the top two.
2. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki (123.13)
Three-Point Value: 24.75
16 to 23 Feet Value: 59.16
10 to 15 Feet Value: 32.20
Three to Nine Feet Value: 7.02
Dirk Nowitzki's deep two-pointers are nothing short of legendary.
Take a look at the most value added from 16 to 23 feet among all players in the NBA throughout the 2012-13 season:
- Chris Bosh, 71.54
- Dirk Nowitzki, 59.16
- Kevin Garnett, 45.58
- Chris Paul, 39.44
- Luke Ridnour, 35.26
- Jarrett Jack, 34.56
- Rajon Rondo, 34.56
- David West, 31.16
- Serge Ibaka, 30.96
- Luis Scola, 30.36
Dirk, Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett all clearly stand out ahead of the rest of the pack, but think about the roles that they have in the offense. Bosh and KG were secondary—if not tertiary—options, while Dirk was clearly the lead option for the Dallas Mavericks as soon as he was healthy.
What he's done with that one-legged flamingo fadeaway, again, is nothing short of legendary.
Dirk was excellent from every zone on the floor, but this is what pushes him just ahead of Kevin Durant. He has that one zone from which few players can possibly touch him.
1. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry (152.31)
Three-Point Value: 108.57
16 to 23 Feet Value: 26.88
10 to 15 Feet Value: 15.21
Three to Nine Feet Value: 1.65
It's Stephen Curry at the top, and it's not even close.
Like, not even remotely close.
Only two other players in the NBA (Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant) posted scores over 100. Curry's three-point shooting score alone was 108.57. He was also in the positives from every other zone on the court and among the elites from both 10 to 15 feet (No. 9 overall) and 16 to 23 feet (No. 12 overall).
Curry is a three-point specialist, but not really. While he's the best perimeter shooter in basketball, he still creates shots both for himself and for others, and he thrives just about everywhere on the basketball court.
No one in the Association has any chance of hanging with Curry in these rankings.
It's just not even a fair contest. He's that much better at shooting the basketball than everyone else.
If anyone can get tired of that swishing sound, it's this former Davidson standout.