Mike Miller and the 10 Best Three-Point Specialists for the 2010-11 NBA Season
During the 1979-80 season the NBA incorporated the three-point field goal into game play, using a distance of 23 feet, nine inches around the arc, but with only 22 feet away from the basket at the corners.
Ever since, the three-pointer has become an integral part of the NBA, with some players even making their livings solely as three-point specialists.
And this has especially been the case in recent years, evidenced by the numerous team and individual three-point records which have been broken during the past decade (especially since many of the previous records were set during 1995-96, when the three-point line was experimentally moved in for one season).
Furthermore, the importance of the three was certainly apparent this summer, as multiple of three-specialists were sought after as valuable free agent assets.
And as a result of these and other offseason moves, many players are now primed to contend with the perennial three-point leaders and put up impressive three-shooting seasons.
These are the 10 best three-point specialists for the 2010-11 NBA season.
No. 10: J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson
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This summer the Orlando Magic signed wing Quentin Richardson, a veteran who once averaged 2.9 three pointers a game and is coming off averaging 1.9 threes made per game, while shooting a career high 39.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Therefore, it seemed as though they were able to kill two birds with one stone, effectively replacing the defense of departed small forward Matt Barnes, while also filling in for the shooting of J.J. Redick (40.5 percent from three in 2009-10), who had been signed to an offer sheet by the Chicago Bulls.
However, the Magic then matched the Bulls' three-year, $19 million offer sheet to Redick, causing it to appear as though he, rather than Richardson, would be playing a more prominent role on the team in the coming years.
Nevertheless, with a big like Dwight Howard causing defenders to collapse into the middle, there will be plenty of open three-point shooting to go around.
Consequently, whoever is getting the majority of the time as the backup two-guard will be in place to potentially have a career three-point shooting year.
No. 9: Anthony Morrow
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Throughout his two seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Anthony Morrow has averaged 1.7 threes per game, at 46 percent shooting behind the arc, in only 26 minutes a game.
Now, however, he is expected to start at shooting guard for the young and talented New Jersey Nets, who traded SG Courtney Lee after acquiring Morrow in a sign and trade with the Warriors.
So with increased minutes, a talented center, Brook Lopez, to draw attention inside, and a solid point, Devin Harris, to get him the ball, Morrow is in position to break out for the Nets, hitting more threes than ever before.
No. 8: Aaron Brooks
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Aaron Brooks had a breakout year for the Houston Rockets in 2009-10, averaging 19.6 points and 5.3 assists in his first season as a full-time starter.
However, he also led the league in three-point field goals (209), while shooting at a respectable 39.8 percent clip.
But in 2010-11, the Rockets will likely look very different than last season, due in large part to the highly anticipated return of the now-healthy Yao Ming.
And with a dominant center comes open three-point looks.
So, barring another Yao injury (which may be asking a lot), Brooks might see a dip in overall scoring, but his three-point shooting numbers could skyrocket.
No. 7: The Phoenix Suns
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Okay, a whole team cannot be considered a three-point specialist.
But if an entire team could be considered to be a three-point specialist, it would likely be the Phoenix Suns, who have been one of the league's most prolific three-point shooting teams during recent history.
And due to the departure of the team's only significant inside threat, Amar'e Stoudemire, they will have to rely on the three more than ever.
But with dead-eyes like Steve Nash (1.5 threes made per game, 42.6 three-point percentage), Jared Dudley (1.5 per game, 45.8 percent), Jason Richardson (2.0 per game, 39.8 percent), Grant Hill (0.4 per game, 43.8 percent), newly acquired Hedo Turkoglu (1.5 per game, 37.4 percent), and Channing Frye (2.1 per game, 43.9), the Suns should be just fine.
They may even look to break the single-season record of 841 threes, set by the Orlando Magic in 2009-10, allowing them to re-earn the title which they originally claimed in 2005-06.
No. 6: Danilo Gallinari
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During the 2009-10 season, Danilo Gallinari connected on the second-highest total three-point field goals (186) in the NBA, while still shooting a decent 38.1 percent.
And that was only during his second year in the league.
So with the 22 year old's continued improvement, it would not be unreasonable to expect his numbers to continue to improve.
Furthermore, his team added more talented threat inside (Amar'e Stoudemire), at the point (Raymond Felton), and throughout the rest of the roster, so he should have better looks than he did last season.
Therefore, Gallinari is certainly ready to be among the league's best three-point specialists in 2010-11.
No. 5: Kyle Korver
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Even though he faced limited playing time, only averaging a little more than 18 minutes a game for the Utah Jazz, Kyle Korver managed to make 1.1 threes a game, shooting a scorching, NBA record 53.6 percent from beyond the arc.
And the rest of the league clearly took note of this, as the Chicago Bulls signed him to a three-year, $15 million contract during the offseason.
Now Korver will be the final piece—the three-point specialist—to put the Bulls into championship contention.
Furthermore, with players like Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng garnering all of the attention from opposing defenses, Korver should be able to have a field day from deep.
So if he can even approach matching his three-point percentage from 2009-10 in his increased minutes with the Bulls, he will put up huge numbers and be a darkhorse to be the NBA's best three-point specialist.
No. 4: Danny Granger
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During the past couple of seasons, Danny Granger has been a three-point shooting machine, averaging 2.7 and 2.6 threes made per game.
However, he has been limited by injuries, missing 15 and 20 games, respectively, and limiting his season totals. But as a 38.5 percent career three-point shooter, Granger can still fire with the best of them.
And 2010-11 should be no different, especially since his team traded for a young stud of a point guard in Darren Collison.
So, barring any injuries, we could potentially be looking at the 2010-11 three-point leader
No. 3: Rashard Lewis
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2009-10 was a down year for Rashard Lewis.
He averaged 14.1 points per game—his lowest average since 1999-00, his second year in the league.
As a result of this significant drop, his three-point stats dropped as well, although he still made an impressive 2.3 threes a game on 39.7 percent shooting, while leading the Magic to breaking the team record for threes made in a season.
But if Lewis is able to return to his previous form (2.8 threes per game in 2007-08 and 2008-09), the 2010-11 Magic have the potential to crush their record, with the likes of Lewis, Redick, Richardson, Vince Carter, and Jameer Nelson.
And without a 10-game suspension to start the season like last year, Lewis should be able to find his deep stroke early and often, giving him a chance to be the best three-point specialist in the NBA.
No. 2: Stephen Curry
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In his rookie season for the Golden State Warriors, Stephon Curry made 2.1 three pointers per game, while shooting 43.7 percent (good for seventh in the league).
However, heading into his sophomore year, he should certainly be able to improve his stats across the board.
Furthermore, David Lee's inside presence, coupled with the three point void left by Anthony Morrow's departure, should add up to more and better chances for Steph.
And if that is the case, then look out, for the NBA's three-point crown could be worn by this young man for years to come.
No. 1: Mike Miller
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When the Miami Heat managed to bring in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh this offseason, there was still one glaring weakness to the team—three-point shooting.
However, Pat Riley swiftly addressed that void, signing Mike Miller to a five-year, $30 million deal.
Last season Miller made 1.5 threes per game, while managing to shoot 48 percent from deep, the 17th best mark in NBA history.
And he will obviously be getting more open looks playing with the Superfriends than he did last season with the lowly Washington Wizards.
Therefore, Miller will be able to increase both his number of made threes and his percentage, giving him the opportunity to put up one of the all-time best three-point shooting seasons ever.
So what can realistically be expected of him?
I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of three three-pointers made, on 48.5 percent shooting, and consequently, the best three-point specialist for the 2010-11 NBA season.