Chip Engelland is the shooting doctor for the San Antonio Spurs. He transformed Tony Parker’s jump shot so that defenders would no longer disrespect it and go under screens, he made Tiago Splitter into a decent free throw shooter, and he made Kawhi Leonard release the ball higher on his 3-point shot, which was the weakest aspect of his game coming out of college.
However, shooting coaches are still a rare breed in the NBA. By the time most players are in the NBA, they are scared to mess with their jump shots in any way. One little tweak, one small mechanical error, and one re-positioning of the pinky finger could make or break your jump shot. It is no wonder no player wants to alter their shots in any way.
But what many NBA players could have used early on in their childhood was a shooting doctor. Basketball mechanics and learned tendencies happen at an early age, in particular a player’s shooting form. When kids play basketball at an early age, the heaviness of the ball makes kids compromise their form for trajectory. Kids are not concerned about tucking their elbow in, finishing their release like a goose’s neck, or bending their knees. Kids are just concerned about putting the ball in the basket, whether it is by shot putting the ball or shooting the ball with two hands
What kids do not realize is that their shooting form usually translates into their adult lives. What a kid’s shooting form looks like in their childhood is pretty much what their shooting form will look like later on in their lives. This has led to some of the most atrocious shooting forms and ugliest jump shots even at the professional level. The following is a list of players with the ugliest jumpers in NBA history. Some of them are actually good shooters with bad forms and the rest of them are bad shooters with bad forms. Regardless, these are the Top 10 players of All-Time that desperately needed a shooting doctor early on in their lives, but in the end it was too late to save what they called a jumper.
10. Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin was the 2nd leading scorer in college where he averaged 24.9 points per game at Western Carolina University during his junior year. The skinny shooting guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves has always been a dynamic scorer, despite his horrific shooting form. Although Martin has a quick release, the right handed shooter winds up from his left hip and goes into a clockwise motion towards his right shoulder where he shoots his awkward looking jumper.
9. Michael Adams
The 5’10” point guard was selected with the 66th pick in the 1985 draft. Michael Adams has always been an underdog and a part of the reason for that was because his jumper looked like a shot put or what many referred to as a “push-shot.” Adams scored over 9,000 points during his 10-year NBA career with his one handed push-shot that rarely made use of his left hand to guide the ball. If Adams followed through with his left-hand as his guiding hand a bit more, he would definitely not be on this list.
8. Anthony Mason
The big and burly power forward has always looked more like a NFL tight end than a basketball player and it showed in the way that he played. The left handed big man averaged 10.8 points per game during his 13-year career, including a 6th Man of the Year Award in 1995. But what Mase was probably best known for was his weird shooting form. Mason rarely used his right hand as his guiding hand when he shot the ball. He used his guiding hand to get the ball up near his forehead, but then he totally let it go and used his shooting hand to do the rest of the work. If his guiding hand was on the ball for a bit longer, it is very possible that his jumper would have been a bit more accurate.
7. Tony Allen
The defensive minded shooting guard for the Memphis Grizzlies can do everything but shoot. In a day and age where most guards like to stay behind the 3-point line and pop jumpers all-day to avoid contact, Tony Allen prefers to attack the paint where he does not have to shoot the ball. Allen has a hitch in his jump shot, so that it lacks smoothness and fluidity. There is a reason why defenders play off of Allen when they guard him. Allen shoots the ball a little bit behind his head, which forces him to stretch out his left hand as his guiding hand. Couple that with Allen’s little hitch and he has one of the ugliest jumpers in the NBA today.
6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The former number two pick in 2012 draft was drafted more for his offense than for his defense. This season Kidd-Gilchrist has only averaged 8.2 points per game for the Charlotte Bobcats, which is actually a drop-off from his first season where he averaged 9.0 points per game. It is rare to find a young and explosive talent like Kidd-Gilchrist to have such an aversion to offense and such a preference for defense, so if he is going to develop into a two-way player he is going to have to adjust the way that he shoots the ball. A proper shooting form has your elbow tucked in without sticking out too much, but Kidd-Gilchrist’s problem is that he tucks in his elbow way too much. So much so, that is right elbow is towards his left shoulder, which makes him incredibly off-balanced when he elevates into the air.
5. Andris Biedrins
The left handed big man from Latvia has a career free throw shooting percentage of 50% for a reason. The 6’11” center is in the NBA for one reason alone and that is defense. Andris Biedrins has a very high shooting release, which means that his jumper is all wrist and no arm or legs. As a result of his high release, Biedrins does not get much arc on his shot. Percentage wise, the higher the arc, the more surface area for the ball to go through the rim; the lower the arc, the less percentage there is for the ball to go in because of the low surface area. If Biedrins found a way to get more arc onto his shot, his free throw shooting percentage could jump another 20%.
4. Josh Childress
The 6’8” shooting guard/small forward from Stanford was a dynamic scorer in college, so it was not a surprise that he was selected with the number 6 pick in the 2004 draft. However, 10 years later Josh Childress is now having a hard time staying the league. A part of the reason for that is because of his offense. Childress has one of the oddest looking jump shots in the NBA. Childress has a very low release and shoots it far from his forehead. It does get a lot of arc, but Childress has a hard time getting his shot off when someone is guarding him due to his low release, which is a major problem for someone at his position.
3. Bill Cartwright
The 7-foot big man averaged over 17 points per game 4 different times during his illustrious 16-year NBA career. Bill Cartwright also won 3 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls as their center. Cartwright has always been an adequate offensive and defensive minded center, however, he is most famous for his jump shot. In the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, children on playgrounds everywhere in America imitated Cartwright’s jump shot for a reason. The big man has a very high release and awkward form.
2. Shawn Marion
The Matrix has always had one of the best all around games in NBA history. He can pass, play defense, rebound, finish in traffic, and even hit the open 3-pointer. What he does not have is a pretty jump shot. Marion has a very low release on his jump shot where he sort of flings the ball in the air mostly with his wrist. What makes Marion’s jump shot look even more awkward is that he jumps really high when he does shoot the ball. So, imagine jumping as high as you can in the air and flinging a ball totally with your wrists and that is what Marion’s jumper looks like. Of course, you could argue that it makes for one of the fastest releases in the NBA.
1. Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is the perfect example of a kid that never altered his shooting form during his junior high and high school days. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, shoots the ball with both hands like he is passing a medicine ball. What makes Noah’s shot so mechanically wrong is that he puts a sidespin on his ball when he shoots. Most shooters have the ball spinning in a backwards direction, which allows the ball to ricochet off the rim and backboard in a tactical way. Noah, however, has a sidespin and the reason for that is because both his left and right hand have a gooseneck to it when he releases the ball, so it is as though he is shooting with both hands instead of using one hand as the guiding hand and the other hand to release the ball.