Metrics 101: Who Are the NBA's Truly Elite 3-Point Shooters?

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 4, 2018

Metrics 101: Who Are the NBA's Truly Elite 3-Point Shooters?

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    Judging the NBA's best shooters isn't as simple as peering at a three-point leaderboard and seeing who's made the most shots from beyond the arc. Efficiency matters. So does shot-creation ability, since not all triples are generated in similar fashion. 

    The league as a whole has shot 35.9 percent on catch-and-shoot triples this season, as opposed to 32.8 percent on pull-up treys. Firing away off the bounce, while necessary within the flow of so many modern-day offenses, isn't an easy task. 

    To get a realistic picture of the league's best three-point marksmen, we must properly weigh all three of the aforementioned factors: volume, efficiency and creation. And that's exactly what we've done, performing a cluster analysis of three-pointers attempted per game, three-point percentage and percent of made threes that are self-created (unassisted) for each of the 161 men qualified for the distance-shooting title in 2018-19. 

    That resulted in the formation of these 10 clusters: 

    1. The True Elite (one player)
    2. League-of-His-Own Creator (one player)
    3. Well-Rounded Marksmen (nine players)
    4. High-Volume Creators (seven players)
    5. Off-the-Bounce Weapons (eight players)
    6. High-Volume Spot-Up Threats (18 players)
    7. High-Efficiency Spot-Up Threats (38 players)
    8. Low-Volume Creators (19 players)
    9. Low-Efficiency Gunners (five players)
    10. Struggling Shooters (55 players)

    Throughout this article, we'll go from one to the next, though we're skipping past the bottom cluster for the sake of expediency and only diving deeper on the players populating the five most impressive groupings. 

    Within each cluster, we'll also subjectively rank the members according to those same three elements. Your personal order may deviate from the one listed; that's fine, since different people value different skills.

    Do also note that the best players from one tier are, in some cases, better than the worst players from the next. After all, the groupings are based around similar archetypes rather than functioning as an overall ranking of shooters. 

Lesser Self-Creating Tiers

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    Low-Efficiency Gunners

    Average Stats: 28.5 percent on 5.7 attempts per game with 45.5 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 24.8 percent (Trae Young) to 32.3 percent (Goran Dragic)

    Volume Range: 4.7 attempts per game (Jrue Holiday) to 6.8 attempts per game (Donovan Mitchell)

    Creation Range: 35.0 percent created (Dragic) to 51.5 percent created (Young)

    The players in this cluster shoot frequently and create plenty of looks for themselves, but the ball often clangs off tin rather than swishing through nylon. Efficiency is lost on them at this stage of the season—for some because they're forced into oversized roles, and for others because they're simply enduring unexpected struggles. 

    1. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
    2. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
    3. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
    4. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
    5. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans


    Low-Volume Creators

    Average Stats: 38.3 percent on 3.7 attempts per game with 36.8 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 32.9 percent (Lou Williams) to 44.0 percent (DJ Augustin)

    Volume Range: 2.7 attempts per game (Lance Stephenson) to 5.0 attempts per game (Eric Bledsoe)

    Creation Range: 22.0 percent created (Jayson Tatum) to 65.2 percent created (Shabazz Napier)

    Unlike the players in the previous cluster, these contributors showed more restraint and were significantly more accurate with their shooting strokes. The least consistent marksman (Williams) was still more efficient than anyone in the previous tier, albeit with less volume.

    That's the knock against everyone in this cluster, after all: They just don't shoot enough to move into any of the more notable groups. 

    1. D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic
    2. Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers
    3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
    4. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs
    5. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
    6. Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee Bucks
    7. Jeremy Lin, Atlanta Hawks
    8. Rodney Hood, Cleveland Cavaliers
    9. Shabazz Napier, Brooklyn Nets
    10. Shelvin Mack, Memphis Grizzlies
    11. Jamal Crawford, Phoenix Suns
    12. Tyreke Evans, Indiana Pacers
    13. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
    14. Trey Burke, New York Knicks
    15. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
    16. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks
    17. Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
    18. Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
    19. Lance Stephenson, Los Angeles Lakers

Lesser Spot-Up Tiers

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    High-Efficiency Spot-Up Threats

    Average Stats: 43.7 percent on 4.0 attempts per game with 7.9 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 38.5 percent (Dorian Finney-Smith) to 51.5 percent (Bojan Bogdanovic)

    Volume Range: 2.4 attempts per game (Paul Millsap) to 5.8 attempts per game (Danny Green)

    Creation Range: 0 percent created (12 players) to 26.3 percent created (Derrick Rose)

    You won't find these players among the league leaders in total triples, since they don't shoot enough to jump up the hierarchy. But they don't miss many, either. Everyone is above the league-average mark for three-point accuracy (35.1 percent), as they've all managed to find success in off-ball situations rather than forcing the issue with their own dribbles. 

    Rose is the biggest exception during his surprising season from beyond the arc, but the cluster analysis still pushes him into this spot-up grouping—if only barely. 

    1. Derrick Rose, Minnesota Timberwolves
    2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Indiana Pacers
    3. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
    4. Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings
    5. Rudy Gay, San Antonio Spurs
    6. Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
    7. Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs
    8. Danilo Gallinari, Los Angeles Clippers
    9. Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers
    10. Danny Green, Toronto Raptors
    11. Quinn Cook, Golden State Warriors
    12. T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns
    13. Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz
    14. Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
    15. Marcus Morris, Boston Celtics
    16. Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks
    17. E'Twaun Moore, New Orleans Pelicans
    18. Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets
    19. Iman Shumpert, Sacramento Kings
    20. Ryan Arcidiacono, Chicago Bulls
    21. PJ Tucker, Houston Rockets
    22. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
    23. Damyean Dotson, New York Knicks
    24. Garrett Temple, Memphis Grizzlies
    25. Josh Hart, Los Angeles Lakers
    26. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
    27. Antonio Blakeney, Chicago Bulls
    28. Cory Joseph, Indiana Pacers
    29. Landry Shamet, Philadelphia 76ers
    30. Nik Stauskas, Portland Trail Blazers
    31. Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks
    32. Anthony Tolliver, Minnesota Timberwolves
    33. Doug McDermott, Indiana Pacers
    34. Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs
    35. Mike Scott, Los Angeles Clippers 
    36. Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks
    37. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
    38. Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets


    High-Volume Spot-Up Threats

    Average Stats: 35.4 percent on 6.6 attempts per game with 6.6 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 29.2 percent (Evan Fournier) to 38.9 percent (Robert Covington)

    Volume Range: 5.2 attempts per game (Langston Galloway) to 8.0 attempts per game (Klay Thompson)

    Creation Range: 0 percent created (three players) to 15.9 percent created (Reggie Jackson)

    Though these players are almost universally less efficient than those in the previous cluster, they shoot quite frequently. Few of them create more than a handful of their own attempts, but they've still managed to achieve some semblance of success through constant off-ball motion that creates a plethora of opportunities and wears down adversaries. 

    1. Justin Holiday, Chicago Bulls
    2. Robert Covington, Minnesota Timberwolves
    3. Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks
    4. Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat
    5. Nikola Mirotic, New Orleans Pelicans
    6. JJ Redick, Philadelphia 76ers
    7. Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks
    8. Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons
    9. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
    10. Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
    11. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
    12. Trevor Ariza, Phoenix Suns
    13. Allen Crabbe, Brooklyn Nets
    14. Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons
    15. Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons
    16. Carmelo Anthony, Free Agent
    17. Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz
    18. Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic 

Off-the-Bounce Weapons

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Average Stats: 35.9 percent on 5.9 attempts per game with 54.8 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 32.7 percent (Kevin Durant) to 38.2 percent (Luka Doncic)

    Volume Range: 4.6 attempts per game (Durant) to 6.5 attempts per game (Mike Conley)

    Creation Range: 43.4 percent created (Kyle Lowry) to 78.9 percent created (Chris Paul)

    Now we're diving into the tiers featuring the league's best shooters.

    These, who are arguably more valuable commodities than the men populating the next portion of this article (again, different people value different things), are the men who create an eye-popping percentage of their own buckets. They frequently control the rock within the half-court set, and they're not afraid to break down defenders before rising and firing over tight defensive efforts. 


    1. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets

    36.5 percent on 6.1 attempts per game with 78.9 percent created

    Given the all-world standards by which he's judged, Chris Paul is in the midst of a rather pedestrian season. Perhaps Father Time is finally taking hold of his game and forcing him into an age-dictated decline. Maybe he's not quite 100 percent, and we're seeing the ill effects of hidden maladies slowing him down. 

    He's still excelled from beyond the arc, largely because he's creating a ridiculous percentage of his makes while maintaining accuracy levels superior to the league average. In fact, he's never been this self-sufficient on his treys, which makes 2018-19 the continuation of a trend that began when he joined the Houston Rockets.


    2. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

    36.6 percent on 5.8 attempts per game with 71.4 percent created

    Could LeBron James' transformation be complete? 

    He's never taken more three-point attempts per game, and he's still connecting at a clip better than his career average (34.4 percent heading into the year). Moreover, he's doing so at a career high in unassisted makes. His previous high came in 2009-10 when he created 65.9 percent of his conversions. 

    If James can maintain this level of marksmanship, look out, NBA, as he continues to morph into even more of an all-around threat. 


    3. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

    38.2 percent on 6.2 attempts per game with 44.7 percent created

    Whether he's knocking down corner threes over the outstretched arms of James Harden or disarming defenders with penetrating jab-steps before drilling contested triples, Luka Doncic has already proved his shooting can translate away from EuroLeague play. He's also validated the theory that his lackluster distance-shooting numbers with Real Madrid were largely because he drew too much defensive attention while his teammates were unable to steal any away. 

    Only four players throughout the Association have made more pull-up triples than Doncic this year, and that's even more impressive when he's connecting on those attempts at a 40.8 percent clip. 


    4. Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons

    36.1 percent on 6.1 attempts per game with 50.0 percent created

    Enjoy Blake Griffin's placement while it lasts. 

    This isn't to take away from his body of work as a self-creating superstar, but he's already showing signs of imminent regression after his red-hot start to the 2018-19 campaign—his first full go-round with the Detroit Pistons. Since calendars flipped to November, he's taking 6.4 deep attempts per game but hitting just 30.1 percent. 


    5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

    35.8 percent on 6.4 attempts per game with 43.4 percent created

    Kyle Lowry has long been one of the NBA's most dangerous off-the-dribble threats, and that hasn't changed as he transitions from the DeMar DeRozan era to the Kawhi Leonard era. Then again, he's been used a bit less frequently as a top scoring option, which also seems to be keeping him from establishing the same rhythm that buoyed him in 2017-18. 

    If he can get back to his 39.9 percent clip from the last three seasons, the Toronto Raptors might grow even more dangerous. Considering they're already one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference, that's quite the thought. 


    6. Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

    36.2 percent on 5.3 attempts per game with 47.8 percent created

    Spencer Dinwiddie isn't typically considered one of the game's leading marksmen. He did make 141 treys during his breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017-18, but his primary strides came when he drove to the hoop and remained capable of either converting at the tin or kicking the ball out to an open shooter. 

    Now, the shots are starting to fall. 

    Dinwiddie is actually taking 0.1 fewer triples per game, but his accuracy has soared from 32.6 to 36.2 percent as he grows even more comfortable converting off the bounce. Should those gains prove legitimate, it'll be tough to avoid referring to the gaudy contract he inevitably signs this summer (barring a last-minute extension before the mid-December deadline) as money well spent. 


    7. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

    34.7 percent on 6.5 attempts per game with 44.0 percent created

    Now, we move into the more unfortunate portion of this cluster. Though Mike Conley still qualifies as an off-the-bounce weapon because he's hitting at a respectable clip, taking plenty of shots during his average outing for the Memphis Grizzlies and creating a lofty percentage of his own buckets, he's clearly falling behind the six previous marksmen. 

    Fortunately, we know Conley can do better.

    During the 2016-17 season, he took 6.1 triples per game and hit 40.8 percent of them. Even more encouraging, he created 43.9 percent of those makes, which should serve as a sturdy indication the Grizzlies aren't currently asking him to do too much. 


    8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

    32.7 percent on 4.6 attempts per game with 58.3 percent created

    If you're looking for one reason the Golden State Warriors failed to maintain their status as a world-beating outfit while Stephen Curry and Draymond Green missed time, this would qualify. It's by no means the only reason (see: Klay Thompson's shooting struggles, the lack of top-tier depth, defensive slippage and more), but it remains significant for a man who took 6.1 three-pointers per game and hit 41.9 percent of them in 2017-18. 

    Durant should progress back to his career mean. He hasn't shot this poorly since his rookie season, which came all the way back in 2007-08 for the Seattle SuperSonics. But perhaps out of injury-mandated necessity, he's also never needed to create nearly as much of his long-range offense.

High-Volume Creators

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    Kent Smith/Getty Images

    Average Stats: 34.4 percent on 8.3 attempts per game with 36.8 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 31.3 percent (Devin Booker) to 36.2 percent (Kemba Walker)

    Volume Range: 7.3 attempts per game (Victor Oladipo) to 9.3 attempts per game (Walker)

    Creation Range: 22.2 percent created (Eric Gordon) to 50.6 percent created (Walker)

    These players aren't quite as efficient as most of the men comprising the previous cluster. They also don't create quite as much of their own offense, though a few of them serve as notable exceptions. But they also have hefty roles within their team's schemes, and those roles ask them to fire away with a perpetual green light. 

    Victor Oladipo takes the fewest deep tries of the group, but his 7.3 triples per game still outpace everyone from the last collection by nearly a full shot per contest. 


    1. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

    36.2 percent on 9.3 attempts per game with 50.6 percent created

    Remember when Kemba Walker was easier to guard because defenders could just sag back in the pick-and-roll game and dare him to shoot?

    So much for that. 

    For years now, Walker, who leads this cluster in all three categories, has been a potent pull-up marksman who forces foes to fight over screens and stay attached to his hip. If he gets even the tiniest modicum of space, he's willing and able to rise for an off-balance triple that invariably splashes through twine. Given the early-career struggles (31.8 percent on 4.1 attempts per game during his first four professional seasons), it's astounding that those pull-up treys have become his signature shot. 


    2. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

    36.0 percent on 8.2 attempts per game with 47.1 percent created

    Though this is purely an anecdotal observation, Damian Lillard might take the toughest collection of threes in the NBA. Opposing defenses know he's the obvious centerpiece within the flow offense employed by Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, and they stick to him like glue, understanding that the scoring efforts still hinge upon him taking and making contested jumpers. 

    Quite frequently, Lillard makes them. 

    His accuracy is slightly down this year even as he creates a lower percentage of his own looks, but he's still producing numbers with which you can't really argue.


    3. Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks

    35.6 percent on 8.2 attempts per game with 32.8 percent created

    It's all about the pull-up jumper for Tim Hardaway Jr., who struggles to remain efficient unless he's drilling those looks or working his way to the stripe. Fortunately, he's pretty darn good at filling that role. 

    Seventy-one different players in 2018-19 have connected on at least 40 percent of their pull-up triples, though quite a few have done so with minimal attempts. Raise the threshold to at least 10 tries, and the club shrinks to include only 34 members.

    No player has taken more pull-up threes than Hardaway's 72 while connecting at no worse than a 40 percent clip. 


    4. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder

    35.5 percent on 8.9 attempts per game with 22.7 percent created

    Compared to the majority of the players populating this cluster, Paul George relies on his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates for a rather high percentage of his three-point conversions. Of course, the context of the entire league helps make it clear why he still finds himself in this particular grouping. 

    Throughout the NBA, 181 different players have taken at least 50 shots from beyond the arc, and 126 have used set-up passes on a higher percentage of their makes. George is still in the upper echelon of shot-creation, even if you wouldn't know it while looking at the men serving as his immediate neighbors in this analysis. 


    5. Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

    34.5 percent on 7.3 attempts per game with 42.1 percent created

    I feel confident in saying that the Indiana Pacers would prefer for Victor Oladipo to A) get his knee in working order and B) begin hitting a higher percentage of his long-range tries. 

    Last year's breakout star has still done a marvelous job creating his own offense, and he's not afraid to fire away with plenty of volume. But if he can't raise that three-point accuracy back to last year's 37.1 percent clip, he'll have difficulty avoiding backsliding after last year's All-NBA efforts. Maybe some regression was inevitable after he took on such immense shot-creation responsibility in 2017-18, but probably not to this extent, given his demonstrations of sharpshooting prowess over the years. 


    6. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

    31.3 percent on 7.6 attempts per game with 40.0 percent created

    The bad news: Devin Booker has been so inefficient with his three-point shots that he'd probably help out the Phoenix Suns by moving into a tier that allows him to accept more set-up feeds or take fewer attempts. 

    The good news: Booker's history indicates that his shoddy percentage won't last for long. During the 2017-18 campaign, while creating 38.8 percent of his own makes, he converted 38.2 percent of his 7.1 deep balls per contest. During his career as a whole prior to 2018-19, while creating 28.8 percent of his own makes, he converted 36.5 percent of his 5.2 threes per game. 

    Though the 22-year-old is doing more for the Suns than in previous campaigns, he's still a better shooter than this. 


    7. Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

    31.6 percent on 9.0 attempts per game with 22.2 percent created

    At least Eric Gordon appears to be righting the ship. 

    After missing three consecutive contests in the beginning of November, he's taken 9.7 deep shots per game over the course of a dozen showings and bucketed 35.3 percent of those attempts. His two-point stroke hasn't returned, but that doesn't concern us during this particular analysis. Nor should it worry the Houston Rockets much, since it's far more important that he provides the necessary spacing around James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela. 

Well-Rounded Marksmen

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Average Stats: 39.3 percent on 6.3 attempts per game with 26.8 percent created

    Accuracy Range: 35.8 percent (D'Angelo Russell) to 41.9 percent (Khris Middleton)

    Volume Range: 5.7 attempts per game (Terrence Ross) to 7.3 attempts per game (Middleton)

    Creation Range: 13.2 percent created (Buddy Hield) to 41.8 percent created (Middleton)

    You'll see a lot of variation here, because these shooters tend to be good at everything. Some create more of their own shots than others. Some shoulder much heftier burdens within their teams' offensive schemes. But they're all effective gunners who can score in a wide variety of situations, whether curling around screens for catch-and-shoot attempts, breaking down defenders or waiting in the corners for the right opportunities. 


    1. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

    41.9 percent on 7.3 attempts per game with 41.9 percent created

    Could Khris Middleton's placement atop this cluster be any more obvious? If anything, he has a serious case to move into a tier of his own or become a standout within the realm of high-volume creators, who may well be as valuable as the shooters in this group. 

    No member of this nonet is more accurate, as Middleton is knocking down a career-best 41.9 percent of his own triples. No member is shooting more frequently, and that's another career high for this Milwaukee Bucks sniper. No member is creating a higher percentage of his own buckets. Surprise, surprise: That's another high-water mark for Middleton, who had never before created more than 15.8 percent of his treys. 

    There's a career year, and then there's whatever Middleton is submitting. 


    2. Josh Richardson, Miami Heat

    41.1 percent on 6.9 attempts per game with 22.6 percent created

    Perhaps the Miami Heat were wise to avoid handing Josh Richardson over to the Minnesota Timberwolves while Jimmy Butler trade talks were ongoing. The new member of the Philadelphia 76ers might be the more valuable overall commodity, but Richardson has acquitted himself nicely by remaining on fire for the South Beach residents. 

    Much like Middleton, he's also made substantial strides.

    Richardson has shot this proficiently before, draining 46.1 percent of his long-range attempts during his rookie season out of Tennessee back in 2015-16. But he only took 2.2 tries per game and required assists on 96.2 percent of the makes, which stands in stark contrast to this year's figures. He's entering new territory now, even if he's been more accurate in the past. 


    3. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

    38.8 percent on 6.7 attempts per game with 35.1 percent created

    Breaking news: Kyrie Irving is pretty good at this whole ball-handling thing, which, in turn, helps him convert plenty of three-point attempts after breaking down a defender. It's not exactly new that he's able to maintain respectable numbers while creating 35.1 percent of his long-range offense.

    Actually, we take that back. It is new. 

    Irving has never before relied on assists for such a large percentage of his three-point makes. Heading into 2018-19, his lowest self-creation mark came during his 2014-15 campaign for the Cleveland Cavaliers (38.2 percent), during which time he took 5.0 treys per game and made 41.5 percent of them. 

    This is uncharted territory for Irving, and the increased reliance on his teammates means we could reasonably see that percentage rise back into the 40s. 


     4. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings

    39.7 percent on 5.7 attempts per game with 24.0 percent created

    Even though Bogdan Bogdanovic's three-point locations have changed significantly in 2018-19, he's again proving his merits as a knockdown shooter. 

    During his rookie campaign with the Sacramento Kings, he took 12.2 percent of his long-range attempts from the corners and converted at a 47.5 percent clip. This year, he's setting up above the break far more frequently—just 4.8 percent of his triples come from the corners—but is still creating an identical amount of his offense. 

    It just goes to show that some shooters can find success from anywhere. 


    5. Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings

    41.1 percent on 5.9 attempts per game with 13.2 percent created

    Bogdanovic isn't the only great shooter for the Sacramento Kings. 

    Buddy Hield doesn't operate with the ball in his hands as frequently, but he's firing away even more often while hitting at an even higher clip. In fact, the former Oklahoma standout is one of only nine qualified shooters throughout the league to hit more than 41 percent of his long-balls while taking no fewer than five per contest. 

    Considering he joins Stephen Curry as one of only two players in that club each of the last two years, it might be time to accept Hield as one of the league's truly elite downtown weapons. 


    6. Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic

    40.5 percent on 5.7 attempts per game with 19.0 percent created

    Terrence Ross' pogo-stick athleticism still hasn't fully translated to the NBA, making him an enduring bust after the Toronto Raptors used the No. 8 pick of the 2012 draft on his services. But during his second full season with the Orlando Magic, he's finally rekindling the distance-shooting skill that originally allowed him to earn top billing as an all-around offensive prospect. 

    Ross doesn't create many of his own looks, preferring to instead lurk on the wings and wait for spot-up opportunities. This is actually the highest self-created tally of his career. 

    Of course, he's pretty effective in those situations now, trending toward his first professional season north of the 40-percent barrier. 


    7. D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets

    35.8 percent on 6.8 attempts per game with 34.5 percent created 

    Nothing is too different about D'Angelo Russell's shooting profile in 2018-19. He's still creating about the same percentage of his makes from beyond the rainbow (34.1 percent in the three prior seasons), and he's not firing away too much more frequently than he has in the past. In fact, the biggest alteration is that he's moved out of the corners, from which he's always thrived:

    • Previous Three Seasons: 12.6 percent of threes from the corners; 40.0 percent shooting from the corners
    • 2018-19: 3.7 percent of threes from the corners; 33.3 percent shooting from the corners

    But apparently, everything is clicking above the break. That's the only explanation for him suddenly hitting a career-best 35.8 percent of his long-range attempts and beginning to justify the high-volume attempts that largely come within the flow of the Brooklyn Nets offense. 


    8. CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

    36.5 percent on 6.0 attempts per game with 30.0 percent created

    Though CJ McCollum has struggled with consistency for the Portland Trail Blazers during the first quarter of 2018-19, he's still leveling out at a respectable mark. Hitting 36.5 percent of your deep tries while taking six per game and creating a substantial portion of those knockdowns is all good.

    Plus, Rip City should only expect his numbers to trend up. 

    During the last three seasons, McCollum took 5.8 triples per contest and converted at a 41.2 percent clip while creating 30.5 percent of his makes. Those numbers would still put him squarely in this cluster, though he'd move well up the internal rankings.


    9. Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz

    37.9 percent on 5.8 attempts per game with 20.8 percent created 

    Yes, Joe Ingles is ranked last among this impressive cluster of shooters. That's still nothing to frown about. 

    Only 11 qualified marksmen can match his combination of volume and efficiency during the 2018-19 campaign, and that's before we take his shot creation into account. Though he's most famous for his spot-up ability, he's creating more of his own looks while head coach Quin Snyder tries to push the right buttons and pull the Utah Jazz out of their offensive doldrums by any means necessary. 

    It's perfectly conceivable this is the version of Ingles we see all year. It's also possible he takes a slight step back in the pick-and-roll ball-handling domain and sees his efficiency skyrocket back to the level of the last two years (44.0 percent).

    Either way, Ingles is a well-rounded marksman brushing shoulders with elite company. 

League-of-His-Own Creator

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

    37.2 percent on 11.3 attempts per game with 88.7 percent created

    If we only count unassisted buckets for the bearded guard, Stephen Curry is still the only player in league history to make more three-pointers per game than James Harden's 3.7 in 2018-19. The same rings true for Harden's overall mark of 4.2 per contest, which includes makes of the assisted variety.

    But that number just isn't as much fun. 

    After all, he's currently making a living out of rocking back and forth as the ball passes between his hands or through his legs, then quickly stepping back and to the side for a three-point attempt that always seems to find its target. His step-back trey is one of the league's deadliest weapons, which should be practically impossible when it carries such a high degree of difficulty. 

    Harden is the owner of myriad impressive numbers. For example, no one has ever taken more three-pointers per game, which makes it all the more impressive that he's shooting well above the league average.

    But his ability to work off the dribble still makes everything else pale in comparison. Among the 181 players who have already taken at least 50 attempts from beyond the arc, Kemba Walker (50.6 percent), Trae Young (51.5), Kevin Durant (58.3), De'Aaron Fox (60.0), Shabazz Napier (65.2), LeBron James (71.4) and Chris Paul (78.9) are the only other players creating more than half of their three-point makes. 

    Harden is at a staggering 88.7 percent while posting unmatched volume numbers. No wonder he's functioning as his own cluster. 

The True Elite

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    Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

    1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

    48.1 percent on 10.4 attempts per game with 32.3 percent created

    Stephen Curry isn't creating nearly as many of his own looks as James Harden is for the Houston Rockets. In fact, he's taken a step backward in that department after checking in at 38.2, 36.1 and 45.3 percent over the last three years, respectively. 

    Fortunately for the Golden State Warriors (when the two-time MVP is healthy enough to log minutes), he's making up for the relative reliance on set-up passes by draining triples with a historic combination of volume and efficiency. Splashing more than 48 percent of your deep tries isn't exactly an easy feat, and that's especially true when taking double-digit attempts. 

    Throughout all of NBA history, only 24 individual seasons have resulted in a player hitting at least 48 percent from beyond the arc—a number boosted by the seven current contributors (Nemanja Bjelica, Bojan Bogdanovic, Malcolm Brogdon, Curry, Rudy Gay, Meyers Leonard and Derrick Rose) tracking toward the fraternity. But if we sort them by attempts per game, a clear leader emerges: 

    1. 2018-19 Stephen Curry: 10.4 attempts per game
    2. 2014-15 Kyle Korver: 6.0
    3. 2018-19 Bojan Bogdanovic: 4.2
    4. 2018-19 Malcolm Brogdon: 3.8
    5. 2018-19 Derrick Rose: 3.7
    6. 2018-19 Nemanja Bjelica: 3.3
    7. 1995-96 Tim Legler: 3.2 (with a shortened arc)
    8. 2006-07 Jason Kapono: 3.1
    9. 1989-90 Chuck Hodges: 2.9
    10. 1995-96 Steve Kerr: 2.9 (with a shortened arc)

    Yes, Curry has taken more heaves per game than the combined efforts of any other two qualified players.

    He's that much of an outlier. 


    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats accurate heading into games Dec. 3 and courtesy of Basketball Reference,,, NBA Math or


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