NBA Finals 2011: Five Best Shooters in the Heat-Mavericks Series

Will ToberAnalyst IMay 31, 2011

NBA Finals 2011: Five Best Shooters in the Heat-Mavericks Series

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots a free throw while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Okla
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, the veteran Dallas Mavericks will square off against the polarizing Miami Heat. 

    Both teams have demonstrated success shooting the ball over the course of the season.  The Miami Heat ranked second overall in Field Goal Percentage at 48.1 percent and the Dallas Mavericks ranked fifth shooting 47.5 percent. 

    More than the team shooting though, each team is full of "shooters" who rely on their ability to put the ball in the bucket from 15 feet and beyond in order to score.

    In a series where key areas like bench scoring, fast break points, and rebounding will no doubt be a factor, the team and or player(s) that shoot(s) the best could potentially decide the series.

    With that in mind, here are my top five shooters in the Heat-Mavericks NBA finals.

5. Peja Stojakovic

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 19:  Peja Stojakovic #16 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball over Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 19, 2011 in D
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Historically one of the best three-point shooters in the game, Stojakovic hasn't lost much.  As a 33 year-old role player for the Mavericks, Stojakovic has been a consistent and influential contributor to Dallas because of his shooting ability.

    In his career Stojakovic averages an astounding 40 percent from behind the arc and has improved that average this year averaging almost 42 percent from three-point range. 

    In addition to his ability to knock down a momentum swinging three in a game, Stojakovic also brings impeccable free throw shooting.  For his career, he is averaging just under 90% from the free throw line.  This season, Stojakovic only missed two free throws, shooting 23-25 at the line. 

    So Why Number five?

    Stojakovic is a streaky shooter who's role will fluctuate from game to game and although his potential for impact in a game is fairly high, his contribution isn't essential for a win. 

4. James Jones

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 28: James Jones #22 of the Miami Heat shoots a jump shot during a game against the Detroit Pistons at American Airlines Arena on January 28, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by download
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images


    Yes, James Jones.  I know he only plays around 19 minutes a game and is at best a role player for the Miami Heat, but Jones is one of the best shooters in the NBA, let alone the Finals.

    Jones averaged nearly 43 percent from behind the arc this year which was good enough for seventh best in the league.  He proved to be one of the best and most consistent three-point shooters this year when he won the three point contest at the All-Star game.

    The Heat know exactly how to get the best out of Jones too.  When Jones plays 20-29 minutes in a game his efficiency sky-rockets as he shoots almost 50 percent from three point land.

    In the Playoffs, Jones is an even better shooter than he is in the regular season.  In the 12 playoff games he's played in this season, he is making 46 percent of his three point shots and is shooting a perfect 13 for 13 from the free throw line.

    Like Stojakovic though, Jones won't be any higher than four on my list because of his limited role for the Heat. 

3. Jason Terry

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 08:  Guard Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    If you've watched any of the Mavericks' playoff games this year, you shouldn't have any problem seeing Jason Terry on this list.  In fact, if you saw game four of the Lakers series, you're probably wondering why he's this low on the list.

    In addition to being one of the most valuable players on the Dallas Mavericks, Jason Terry is one of the best shooters. 

    From a statistical standpoint in the regular season, Terry's numbers seem pretty pedestrian: 45 percent from the field, 36 percent from behind the three-point line, and 85 percent from the charity stripe.

    What you don't see in those numbers are the amount of "important" shots Terry will make in the course of a game.  As a Lakers fan, I don't think I was ever as terrified watching the ball swing to the corner for a three than when Jason Terry was the man catching and shooting the ball.

    Terry made a record tying nine three-point field goals in the sweep clinching game against the Lakers this year.

    These types of performances aren't out of the ordinary for Terry either, he seems to always elevate his game when it comes playoff time.  Terry's numbers in the playoffs: 47 percent from the field, 46 percent from behind the arc, and almost 90 percent from the free throw line.

    Jason Terry's ability to take over a game with his shooting ability is what earned him the right to be number three on this list. 

2. LeBron James

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 24:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat attempts a shot as Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls puts his hand over his face in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2011 at American Airlines Are
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    As odd as it sounds, LeBron James might be the most controversial player on this list. 

    James doesn't have the impressive numbers that the others on this list have, and until recently he wasn't even respected as a shooter in the NBA. 

    So why is he on the list?

    LeBron James is probably the best player in the NBA.  Unlike the players before him on this list,   James is required to initiate and produce most of his teams offense night in and night out.  He is guarded by the other team's best defender (often facing double or triple teams) and yet he still shoots 51% from the field, which is high for a perimeter player.

    Another thing LeBron does that most other players on this list don't do is create his own shot.

    If LeBron James was a spot up shooter like Terry, Stojakovic, or Jones he would probably be shooting well above 40 percent from three point land, but instead many of the shots James takes are highly contested and sometimes come at the end of the shot clock.

    Even so, James was able to shoot an effective 33 percent from behind the arc in the regular season and make an above average 37 percent of his three-pointers so far this post-season. 

1. Dirk Nowitzki

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airl
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In game one of the Western Conference Finals Dirk Nowitzki went 12-15 from the field (80 percent), 24-24 from the free throw line, and scored 48 points in one of the most efficient shooting performances in NBA history. 

    So far in the playoffs Nowitzki is shooting 52 percent from the field, making 52 percent of his three's, and shooting 93 percent from the free throw line. Numbers like this are unheard of in the playoffs for a power forward who makes his buckets in the paint, but for someone like Nowitzki who shoots mid-range, off-balance fade aways these numbers are absurd.

    Not to mention he does all this standing seven feet tall.

    There has never been a player like Nowitzki.  Not only is he one of the best shooters in the game, but he's the best shooting big man there has ever been. 

    He causes matchup problems for every team the Mavericks face, and he's one of the best closers in the game.

    There is no doubt that Dirk Nowitzki is the best shooter in the NBA Finals.