NBA Free Agents 2011: Top Sharpshooters Available in Free Agency

Kelly ScalettaFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: Top Sharpshooters Available in Free Agency

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    There are several teams that are in search of a sharp shooter, the guy who can drain the long ball. These might not be the best players on the market or the best wings. They may not be the ones who can create their own shots. They might not be able to defend worth a lick. 

    One thing they can do, though, is shoot. That can be a needed role player on every contender. Having that guy can be the difference between winning and losing a game.

    Here are the top five sharp-shooters on the market. 

Marco Belinelli

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    Marco Belinelli is a player that is not approaching anyone's All-Star team, but bear in mind, that's not the purpose of this list. Whatever else you want to say about him, there's no denying he can shoot. 

    Last season, he averaged 1.7 three-point shots per game and shot .414 from deep. His true shooting percentage on the season was a very respectable true shooting percentage of .560. 

    Granted, he can't defend or put the ball on the floor that well, but if you need a guy to pop off a three, you can do a lot worse than Belinelli. 

James Jones

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    Quick question: Which free agent had the highest make rate from deep? If you answered James Jones, you would be right. If you answered James Jones because that's the slide you were on, you would be clever. If you didn't answer James Jones, well....you should have. 

    Jones actually is the right answer. His .429 three-point percentage is the best among free agents. Like Belinelli, that's the extent of his game. My favorite stat on Jones, though, is his assist rate of 99 percent. Of his 146 field goals, he created one of them. 

    I wonder what would happen if he played one on one with Keith Bogans. Would there be dribbling?

Jamal Crawford

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    Jamal Crawford is the first guy on the list that isn't a one-dimensional player. In fact, you can argue that his better dimension is that he creates offense. He made 56 percent of his own shots for himself, but for a shooting guard who shot the ball 874 times last year, he had a pretty nice true shooting percentage of .545. 

    The only two free agents who attempted at least 500 field goals made at least one three-pointer and had a higher true shooting percentage are the two ahead of him.

Arron Afflalo

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    Arron Afflalo could make a case for the top spot here. What is impressive with Afflalo is that he shoots well from everywhere. His overall field goal percentage is .498, which is a flat-out ridiculous number for a guard, particularly one who has about 40 percent of attempts from deep. 

    No guard who attempted at least 2.5 shots from deep had a higher field goal percentage than Afflalo. 

    So why didn't I rank him higher? The primary reason is that there's something known as a skill curve in basketball. It dictates that when your shot volume goes up, your percentage goes down. While Afflalo had a fantastic rate, his attempts per game was only 9.1.

    Still, there's apt reason to think that Afflalo has developed his offensive game to the point where he is ready to have a breakout year offensively, and that's why a lot of teams have their eyes on him.

    It's highly unlikely he'll be moving anywhere, though, as Denver seems intent on keeping him and matching any offers on the restricted free agent.  

Jason Richardson

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    Jason Richardson made the second most three-point shots in the NBA last season, just barely behind Dorrell Wright of the Golden State Warriors, who made five more in two more games. Both players averaged 2.4 per game on the season. 

    Of all NBA players, free agent or under contract, only three—Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry and Ray Allen—made more than two three-point shots per game and had a higher percentage than Richardson's rate of .395  from deep. 

    Richardson isn't just the best sharp-shooter in this free agent class. He's one of the top five in the NBA.