Everyone in the NBA wants to have that Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, and I daresay Kyle Korver-esque sniper shot. Dirk and Durant especially are revered for their inhuman consistency and clutch factor to their jump shot, while Korver is just chillin' with a ridiculous .425 career 3p%. But there are plenty of great players out there that are far more feast or famine.
Two thoughts immediately try to ram themselves out of the front of my forehead when discussing streaky shooters: for one, most players are streaky shooters, but the true hot and cold players that make this list have one difference - if they're missing, they don't stop shooting. And secondly, being a streaky shooter isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's just the source of extreme agita for fans and coaches.
My brother and I (hi Dan) have discussed this ad nauseam; is there truly a 'zone' or 'hot hand' where a shooter's percentage actually goes up due to some state of enhanced kinesthesia, or are streaky shooters' hot streaks merely natural statistical variation-- that is to say, just probability working through its ups and downs. If a 38% career 3-pt shooter is 6-6 from range in a game, is he 38% to make the next shot? or does his percentage go up when he's hot, and down when he's cold? (even if it makes no statistical difference in the long run).
Mathematical nerd digressions aside, anyone who has played ball knows that sometimes, your shot just feels right. Sometimes you know the ball is going in before it has even left your hand. I should title this rant "Math: finding new ways of making sports more boring."
So without further shenanigans, hereafter is my list of the streakiest shooters in the NBA.
10 Carmelo Anthony -- New York Knicks
Many of you may be shouting already. How can I say Carmelo, who is undoubtedly an extremely talented shooter with an incredibly diverse offensive game, streaky? Well, despite the fact that he is similar to Durant (though Durant has better percentages from the floor and from 3-land) 'Melo is a streaky shooter for a few reasons: he's been so relied upon to carry the offensive load, that he's become even more of a conscience-less shooter now than he was in Denver.
It's not crazy to see him go 7/26 or 14/18 from the field in a game. If Melo had the desire or luxury of being able to pass off the offensive load to other premiere players regularly, his percentages would probably go up and his attempts down. Furthermore, if he had an excellent point guard that could break down defenses, his numbers would undoubtedly flourish. But as it is, too many Knicks possessions get over-dribbled to death, then someone passes the ball to Melo with 5s on the shot clock and he's forced to take a very contested shot.
9 Manu Ginobili -- San Antonio Spurs
You can tell when you see some players who just want to shoot. It goes beyond conscience to just pure desire to hoist it up and see what happens. Ginobili is definitely one of those players. This saucy Argentine also is quite capable of putting it on the floor and taking it to the rack as well, but he's most loved and feared for his bombs-away mentality amongst a very disciplined, well planned basketball philosophy that Gregg Popovich espouses for the Spurs.
Probably one of the funniest thing that Popovich uttered in his stellar career of both basketball coaching and deadpan humor was about Ginobili's contested 3 pointer with 44 seconds left in game 1 of the 2013 playoff series between the Spurs and the Warriors:
"I went from trading him on the spot, to wanting to cook him breakfast tomorrow."
Because of course, Ginobili bricked the shot, and then like any mindless shooter, made the next 3 pointer to win the game at the end of double overtime. On top of it all, it was a shot that wasn't his to take: "I wasn't even an option," Ginobili admitted. "They told me to go screen and stay far away from the play."
8 Joe Johnson -- Brooklyn Nets
7 Monta Ellis -- Dallas Mavericks
6 Nick "Swaggy P" Young -- L.A. Lakers
5 Rudy Gay -- Sacremento Kings
4 Jason Terry -- Brooklyn Nets
3 Russell Westbrook -- Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook has both the privilege and misfortune of playing on the same team as the superstar that is Kevin Durant. Clearly, it's a wonderful thing to have such a classy, incredibly talented teammate in Durant, but unfortunately, every time Westbrook hoists up some wild perimeter shot, or any perimeter shot, all OKC and any fan can think is "why in god's name isn't Durant taking that shot?"
It's clear from Westbrook's demeanor and competitiveness that he's one of the uber-confident, no-fear players. But unfortunately for Westbrook, his jump shooting numbers don't really reflect the confidence. He's played one less season than Durant, and has 7,158 FG attempts to Durant's 10,243. The difference being Westbrook averages 1.22 points per attempt, where Durant averages an amazing 1.43 (for perspective, Lebron averages 1.38).
2 Jamal Crawford -- L.A. Clippers
1 J.R. Smith -- New York Knicks
I mean really, is it even a contest? The reigning sixth man of the year, who was absolutely amazing last year, is, well, untying people's shoes at the free throw line for some reason, and generally being an enigma of basketball frustration. But then again, lets rewind to... well, a short while ago, where he had a three game stretch of shooting 24 of 50 3-pointers over three games. I mean, what? He also managed to set an NBA record of 22 3-point attempts in the last game of that stretch against Miami, and made 10 of them. In that three-game span of 50 attempted threes, he only attempted 17 2-point shots, and went to the free throw line a magical zero times. He was probably tuckered out from making all those threes. Think that's strange? on March 26th he shot 9-12 3 pointers against Sacramento. On December 18th of this season he hoisted up 17 threes and made 5.
Let's face it, this is who J.R. is. Over his career he's a solid .370% 3-point shooter, a .468% 2-point shooter, and he has no earthly regard for how many shots he's taken, what time it is, what's happening in the game, whether Jupiter is in retrograde, or how far away from the basket he is. If he's got the ball, chances are he's putting it up. Face it, Knicks fans, despite whether he's unwittingly propositioning 17-year-old girls on twitter, or mumbling through an incoherent postgame interview on the court only to finish it with some kind of whooping sound, he's fun to watch and you love him. Even if he did only shoot 17.9% from the outside against Miami in the playoffs in 2011-12. Because one day, if he takes that 24-50 three point barrage and lands it in the playoffs for the Knicks, it would be magical.
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