NBA Free Agents 2011: Top 10 Sharpshooters Available
Have you ever been watching your favorite NBA team, and when a player on the opposing team is getting ready to shoot a jumper, you've already accepted the shot is going in?
Chances are, that player can be classified as a sharpshooter. These are guys who, when given any sort of open space, can knock down shots from anywhere inside 30 feet. They may not be the best at creating their own shots, but they can definitely get them off.
Sharpshooters don't even have to be starters, typically every team has a guy on their bench who is a long range specialist.
This free agent crop has their fair share of sharpshooters. For purposes of whittling down the candidates, this list includes only unrestricted free agents and are filled with guys who play a pretty decent amount, though most don't start.
10. Michael Redd
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Based solely on talent, Michael Redd may be No. 1 on this list. He had a five-year stretch where he averaged over 20 points per game and was a legit threat from long range.
However, for the past three years he has played in a total of 61 games due to injuries. Teams will obviously be hesitant to go after such an injury-plagued player despite his obvious talent.
9. Peja Stojakovic
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Peja Stojakovic simply will not stop making shots. He was a surprisingly good contributor for the NBA champ Dallas Mavericks thanks to his superb shooting.
In terms of his ability to knock down jumpers, Peja's probably one of the all-time greats. It just so happens that he's now 34 years old and is no longer the star he was back in Sacramento a few years ago.
Still, teams will definitely be interested in bringing him off the bench to provide a scoring punch as he comes off screens and knocks down three after three after three.
8. Anthony Parker
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One of the most consistent shooters no one has heard of, Anthony Parker has been a 40 percent shooter from long range his entire career. He's accepted his role of being a corner shooter and has excelled at it.
Don't expect him to fetch a high price, he may only get the veteran's minimum, but I wouldn't be surprised if the contenders, such as Boston or LA, are after him to help their bench scoring.
7. Shawne Williams
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Shawne Williams came out of obscurity this season and became one of the best shooters for the playoff-bound New York Knicks. He shot over 40 percent from distance and provided a solid spark off the bench.
At only 25, Williams is still pretty unproven as one could argue last season was a fluke or a product of Coach D'Antoni's system, but he's yet to reach his prime.
I expect him to return to the Knicks for a low price, but he could be a sleeper to keep an eye on.
6. Mike Bibby
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Back in the early 2000's, Mike Bibby was one of the best offensive point guards in the NBA. As the years have worn on, Bibby no longer has the quickness to be able to guard opposing guards or drive the lane, but he can still stroke it.
Bibby made headlines last season after he voided his contract after he was traded to the Washington Wizards so he could become a free agent and sign with the Miami Heat in hopes of winning a championship.
Obviously that failed, but Bibby's still good enough to be a role player off the bench for a contender because of his experience and ability to knock down shots.
5. Caron Butler
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Caron Butler is essentially an upgraded version of Michael Redd. Though he's not as great a shooter, he's seen the floor much more over the past few years.
Some people probably wouldn't regard Butler as a sharpshooter, and I didn't either until I saw that his percentage from the three point arc was a shocking 43 percent. He's traditionally been more of a slasher, but maybe he focused on becoming a better outside shooter last offseason because he's getting up there in age (31).
Of all the players listed, I would guess he'll get the most money, but it'll be more based off his all-around game than sole ability to hit outside shots.
4. Mike Dunleavy
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Mike Dunleavy had a bit of a resurgence from the past couple years as he helped the Indiana Pacers make the postseason for the first time in a few years.
His shooting was much improved, and while his scoring average over just over 11 per game won't wow anyone, he did it while playing in just 28 minutes per game while taking less than nine shots.
I think Dunleavy is in that limbo of whether he's a starter or bench player, but he can definitely shoot the rock and still has some other skills which should fetch a decent contract in the offseason.
3. James Jones
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Unlike teammate Mike Bibby, James Jones has never been a star. He's never started more than 24 games or averaged more than 24 minutes per game in a season, yet he's going to be a more valued commodity once free agency begins.
Jones is younger, being only 31, and was the best three-point shooter for the Miami Heat. If the Heat for some reason don't bring him back (I'd be shocked), Jones would be a prime candidate for the mid-level exception, or at least part of it, assuming it's still an option.
Like Anthony Parker, Jones has accepted his role as a pure shooter who comes off the bench and waits for the kick-out from his teammates.
2. Jason Richardson
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If someone had told me seven years ago that Jason Richardson would go from being one of the best dunkers in the NBA to one of the better shooters, I would have laughed. And yet, here we are.
For the last few years, Richardson has evolved his game to adjust to his decreasing athleticism and become a pretty good shooter for a guy who couldn't shoot at all in his first few seasons.
This past season, Richardson shot just a shade under 40 percent from deep for an underachieving Orlando Magic squad.
Because Richardson's still pretty versatile, and just turned 30, he should get some interest from multiple teams looking for a starting shooting guard with range.
1. J.R. Smith
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I've watched plenty of games in which J.R. Smith comes off the Denver Nugget bench and single-handedly brings his team back from a double-digit deficit with his shooting. Usually, Smith is either on fire or ice cold, with no in-between.
Still, he's one of the few players in the league who are a legit threat to score 30 points on any night. Smith has averaged double figures in points for the last five years and has almost exclusively come off the bench during that span.
Only 25, Smith is starting to enter the prime of his promising career, and I doubt his shot-making has gone unnoticed by other teams. Expect him to get interest from many teams either looking to bring him off the bench or start him. He hasn't gotten the opportunity to be a consistent starter in years, and that may be something he's looking to do.
Regardless, whichever team he's on in 2011-12 (or whenever the regular season starts), the opposing team's fans will be praying he has an off-night. Otherwise, those fans will be chalking up points for Smith before he even starts his shooting motion.