And, at the ripe old age of 35, Ray Allen is having the best season of his career.
Statistically speaking, his shooting has been as sweet as his felicitous nickname, "Sugar Ray." Currently on pace to set career-highs in field-goal percentage (.501 percent) and three-point percentage (.465 percent), Allen is fast approaching elite status as far as individual shooting seasons go.
Since the inception of the three-point line in 1979-80, only seven different players—Larry Bird (twice), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr, Steve Nash (four times), Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Calderon—have shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
Ironically enough, while Allen's field-goal and three-point percentages both qualify for this vaunted shooting benchmark, his free-throw percentage (.874) is "lagging" behind.
Allen, a career 0.893 free-throw shooter, has finished above 90 percent eight times in his career, including his last five seasons.
But this year has been different. Through his 54 pre-All-Star games, Allen shot just 126-147 (.857) from the free-throw line.
Since the All-Star break, however, Ray has been making up for lost time. In the 13 games since the break, Allen is 26-27 (.963 percent) from the line.
It's going to be difficult, but Ray has a chance at a 50/40/90 season. Since the break, Allen has averaged about 2.08 free-throw attempts per game. Were he to continue shooting at this pace on his same post-All-Star clip, he'd finish the season 182-205 (.888) from the line, just shy of 90 percent.
But were he to regress towards his pre-All-Star average (2.72 attempts per game) for the final 15 games or even his three-year average (2007-09) with the Celtics (2.94), Allen would have a shot at reaching 90 percent on the season.
But, regardless of all the statistical mumbo-jumbo, Allen's season won't be any less diminished if he didn't finish as a 50/40/90 shooter.
An All-Star, Allen has perhaps been the most consistent member of the Green this year. He's played and started in all of the team's 67 games.
Despite being the oldest of the Big Three, Allen has played the most minutes (2,402—19th in NBA) of any Celtic this year.
Defensively, he's been incredibly sound as well. He's 17th in the league in defensive win shares (3.5), and he's routinely given the tough defensive assignment each night.
In a season full of injury, roster shuffling and up-and-down play, Ray Allen has remained one of the biggest constants on his team.
Ray has made basketball look effortless this season. The best season of his Hall of Fame career to date.
"Basketball is like poetry in motion, cross the guy to the left, take him back to the right, he's fallin' back, then just J right in his face. Then you look at him and say, 'What?'"—Jesus Shuttlesworth
Dan is a Boston Celtics featured columnist. Follow him on twitter @dantheman_06.
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