Ranking the Houston Rockets' Three-Point Shooters
Now that Dwight Howard is aboard, the Houston Rockets will have to rely on their three-point shooters even more heavily than before. Howard draws so much attention underneath that guys will be found along the perimeter very often. It's up to those shooters to capitalize.
Not all shooters are as automatic as others, though. The team isn't lucky enough to have a Ray Allen-type shooter, but there are eight players that are capable of hitting threes with some regularity. Of course, some are better at doing this than others.
Howard makes the Rockets a much more dangerous team under the basket, but his impact will stretch far beyond that area. His presence will make shooting from mid-range and beyond the arc extremely important to the overall success of the Rockets.
If the team capitalizes on open shots from deep, then there's no reason that the Rockets shouldn't finish higher than the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference like they did this past season. On paper, Houston certainly has the shooters to do that.
*Note: Patrick Beverley and Isaiah Canaan are not included. Beverley isn't a very gifted shooter (though he has the range), and Canaan has obviously yet to prove himself at the NBA level. He has the talent but not the experience.
8. Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones is capable of stepping back and hitting a three, but he doesn't have the consistency to make him a late-game option for head coach Kevin McHale beyond the arc.
Jones is a freak athlete and excels at slashing to the basket and making plays down low. While he is a power forward with range, he's much more consistent the closer to the basket he gets. Hitting threes is a part of his game, but not one he relies upon heavily.
The addition of Dwight Howard could work to improve his game. He'll likely see a ton of minutes at power forward and could improve from more open looks outside. He only shot 26.3 percent from there last season, though that came from attempting just one three per game.
We'll be more prepared to judge Jones' shooting once he attempts a few more threes per game.
7. Donatas Motiejunas
Donatas Motiejunas isn't that much better of a shooter than Terrence Jones. He ranks ahead of him by one spot on this ranking because of the number of attempts he took per game last season.
Overall, he shot 28.9 percent. That came on 1.9 attempts per game, nearly a full shot more per game than Jones. This gives us much more to judge when assessing his ability to hit a three.
Like Jones, Motiejunas will benefit from increased playing time and more looks in 2013-14. Playing with Dwight Howard will not only help Motiejunas to improve on his inside game, as open looks from deep will also help him to build confidence and consistency.
If Motiejunas can play 24 minutes per game and shoot upwards of two threes per game, then there's no reason he wouldn't be able to shoot better than 34 percent. It all comes down to him capitalizing on the inevitable open looks.
6. Reggie Williams
Small forward Reggie Williams has a career shooting percentage of 37.1 percent from deep, but that's mostly because of an inflated mark of 42.3 percent in 2010-11. He shot just 30.8 and 30.6 percent each of the past two seasons, respectively.
Williams, one of the newest Rockets, will only be asked to play a few minutes per game for Kevin McHale. Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia are both ahead of him on the depth chart, as is Omri Casspi. Casspi, another free agent addition, will appear on this list shortly (as will Parsons and Garcia).
Williams clearly has potential to be a legitimate threat from deep, but he'll have to prove to the team and its fans that he can be a reliable option. For the past two seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, he hasn't been.
Leaving him as one of the last men on the bench is probably the best option, but don't be all that surprised if he hits a big three (or two) along the way,
5. Omri Casspi
Omri Casspi, like Reggie Williams, has a strong showing keeping his career three-point percentage a little more visually appealing. He shot 37.2 percent in 2010-11 (and 36.9 percent the previous year), and those marks are currently keeping his percentage at 35.3.
The past two seasons have been as nice to Casspi, though. Marks of 31.5 and 32.9 with the Cleveland Cavaliers have shown that his shooting from deep isn't as automatic as he led us to believe during his days with the Sacramento Kings.
Now, such a drop could be a result of a system change or discomfort with a new coaching style and team, but Casspi's last two seasons were not nearly the ones he put up prior. This makes him a secondary option on the perimeter, though one with the potential to become a go-to guy.
Casspi averages 2.7 shots from beyond the arc per game. Should he make 35 percent of those, the Rockets will be in good shape. With contributions coming from everyone on the team, they'll be tough to beat.
4. Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin isn't the best three-point shooter, but he operates mostly from the perimeter in Kevin McHale's system and has had the propensity to hit clutch shots in the past. This ranks him ahead of guys like Omri Casspi and Reggie Williams.
He shot a career-high 33.9 percent from deep last season, taking 3.1 shots per game. Most of his attempts came as a result of failed isolation plays by James Harden, but Lin stands to get much better looks with Dwight Howard manning the paint.
When Harden checks down to Howard, expect Howard to draw double teams. As opponents would be foolish to leave Harden open, look for Lin and other supporting players to be left unwatched. This is where Lin will capitalize.
Known for his aggressiveness and ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, Lin should improve his shooting a great deal with Howard in Houston.
3. Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons is one of the better up-and-coming threats from deep in the NBA. He shot 38.5 percent from there last season, though it was his ability to make shots off James Harden's isolation that ranks him ahead of others on this list.
Parsons became proficient at hitting quick shots to beat the shot clock, as Harden oftentimes didn't leave his teammates with a ton of time to plant and shoot (dishing the ball with four seconds left on the shot clock will do that).
After a pedestrian mark of 33.7 percent in his rookie season, Parsons seems poised for even more growth heading into next season. Another 38 percent-plus season will rank him amongst some of the game's best shooters.
2. Francisco Garcia
General manager Daryl Morey had initially chosen to cut ties with Francisco Garcia following his strong showing in the playoffs, though the drop in asking price brought the team back into the fold for his services.
Now, Garcia figures to be the top three-point shooter off the bench. He'll be asked to fill in for both James Harden and Chandler Parsons, so he'll need to be prepared to play either shooting guard or small forward. This, however, shouldn't be a problem for somebody who has done that in the past.
Garcia and his unique shooting motion will be one of the biggest reasons why the Rockets make noise in the Western Conference. Nearly all of the league's best teams have sharpshooters, and Garcia would be perfect for the job.
He shot as high as 39.8 percent in 2008-09 while a member of the Sacramento Kings. His mark of 37.4 from last season wasn't bad at all, but he certainly has the potential to hit 40 percent of his shots from three.
With Dwight Howard feeding him the ball frequently for wide-open shots, he may very well attain that goal.
1. James Harden
James Harden is by far the best shooter on the Rockets and will benefit tremendously by having Dwight Howard giving him even better looks from deep.
Most of Harden's three-point field goals came from isolation attempts, so not a whole lot of them were uncontested jumpers. Teams won't abandon Harden to cover Howard in the post, but the defense will certainly be a little more lax while focusing on Howard. This should give Harden some better shots.
Harden and Howard could soon become one of the better guard-center tandems in the NBA, as both succeed with the ball in their respective hands while relying on others to make plays when called upon. Harden could take on a secondary role in certain situations where Howard is being utilized, thus giving him the shots that other members of this ranking will be given with regularity.
He owns a 37 percent mark from deep for his career, and those four years are made up of pretty consistent stuff. He should be able to take that next step in 2013-14 with Howard in the fold, though, so expect to see a ton more threes from the Beard next season.