Andy G: Isn’t it a little weird that there hasn’t been much advancement (or any) in the shooting range of pro basketball players? Like, why aren’t there 10 or more current NBA players with the CHRIS KINGSBURY range? I ask because the Drazen Petrovic documentary (Eds note: see what I’m talking about at 1:47 versus Michael Jordan.) shows him bombing from 28 feet sometimes, and it looked like an effective strategy.
Patrick J: Good question. I always thought that as players got stronger, they’d extend their range. I think the bottom line is that (1) 25 feet and beyond is a *really* long shot; (2) those shots are low percentage, and decreasingly so the farther you move back; (3) players and coaches and teams all have an interest in shooting the shortest threes possible to maximize points scored most easily. Players know that their Kahntracts can depend in part on shooting percentage, coaches know that 28 foot misses are basically wasted possessions, and teammates get sick of watching a showoff shooting less than 30% from that distance. So unless you’re JR Smith–i.e., a guy who doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks AND possesses the skills to make some shots from that distance–you won’t see many bombers. I think it’s more common in college and high school, where physically overmatched teams with a good gunner might end up deciding a 27 footer is the best shot they can get on many possessions. That’s rarely true in the NBA. Do think there’s more to it than that?
AG: “Physically overmatched teams with a good gunner…” Don’t those exist in the NBA, too? Every team wishes it had LeBron James and could get “high percentage” shots each time down the floor. But they don’t. And I’ve seen enough players, as you say, at the college and high school level with legit range out to 30 feet to think that they exist in the NBA, too. I’m not advocating that players should CHUCK AWAY from 30 feet, but establishing a threat from longer range–by shooting them sometimes with success–could help some bad teams function better offensively and scare otherwise better teams.
Aside from J.R. Smith, who actually DOES shoot 28 footers in non-emergent situations, who else in the league today do you THINK has more range than they show during games?
PJ: I don’t think anyone SHOULD be shooting more of these. Top of my head: I think Curry could convert a decent percentage from very-long range but doesn’t try them. Your thoughts?
AG: Curry is a good pick because it needs to be somebody capable of shooting off the dribble, or at least from a triple-threat position, from distance. There isn’t much advantage or purpose in spotting up from well beyond the line. But the increased threat that I’m trying to get at here comes when a guy is able to launch from way out, while also being a threat to burn his defender should he choose to chase him out to wildly long distances. So Curry is one. Another, even though his career is likely over, would be Baron Davis. He’s got the strength to shoot from way out. Nash could be one, but he’s already so great at what he does that no changes would help. A guy who could maybe have Petro-style dominance if he extended his range? Eric Gordon. Imagine trying to defend Gordon if he was extending you out to 27 feet. Doesn’t sound like much fun.
I think it’s inevitable that there’ll be a Kingsbury or Petrovic who comes along in the next five or ten years. When it happens, we can re-post this exchange.
PJ: Good call–I think Gordon definitely fits that bill. He has sick range and can do it off the dribble. I thought of Nash too, but I don’t think he has the range of a Curry or a Gordon. Not sure if it’s lack of strength or his relatively low release or what else, but I’d be surprised if he could consistently hit at range, shot for shot, with those guys. The only other guy who immediately comes to mind is Ben Gordon. I’m actually surprised how deep his range is, given that he usually jumps EXTREMELY high on his three point shots.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jimmer doesn’t belong in this conversation, right? I know he’s sort of Curry-like in certain ways, but I can’t see him taking and making 27 footers like I can Steph.
AG: Yep, and the conversation should have BEGUN with Jimmer. Holy shit that guy has range. A big problem with his NBA career is that his team, like the 29 others, won’t allow him to go wild bombing from everywhere. He’s the type of guy I’m talking about. Wouldn’t you rather win 35 games with Jimmer averaging 25 exciting points than win 28 games conventionally? Neither sounds that cool, I guess.
But yeah, Jimmer fits the bill.
PJ: Shows how much Jimmer I’ve watched. I didn’t get into Jimmer-mania when he was in college; he rarely touched the floor last season; and he and the Kings were so terrible in the Vegas League that I found myself watching Breaking Bad reruns instead of their games.