Evolution is a beautiful process. That would have been the consensus title header for a story written five years ago when the Warriors won their first championship. The introduction – or rather, the potent use of three pointers has been exemplified by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, together with the rest of the 2015 squad.
Fast forward a few years, Mike D’Antoni’s Houston Rockets has developed a strategy of only using James Harden for two shots – three pointers or lay ups. Harden, the 2018 MVP, is one of if not the best scorer we have seen in the past decade. The Beard attempts 14 three pointers a game, but converting only 33.9% of his shots. Curry on the other hand, took 11.7 shots per game and made 43.7%.
Truth is, shooting at a high clip does not necessarily translate to points. But who are the prime shooters in the league, where the risk reward ratio clearly suffice their contributions to the team?
Here, we take players who minimally attempts six three pointers a game, hitting above 40%, and how crucial they are to their respective teams.
Paul George, LA Clippers
Ok, so PG13 does not actually qualify for this stat line but his role at the Clippers is far beyond just a starter – he is one of two primary offensive points at the blue and white zone of Los Angeles. George was out for the start of the season, and has only gotten back in the line up mid-November. A six-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-NBA Team selection, the former OKC and Indiana forward is also a defensive threat for every team. In 2019 he led the league in steals, a testament to his importance at the Clippers.
George is averaging 22.7 points this season, while hitting 42.7% of his threes, averaging 9.2 attempts per game. Together with Kawhi Leonard, George is one of the most fundamentally sound two-way forwards in the league, and his high rate of executing deep shots just adds to his already colorful resume. Expect the Clippers to meet the Lakers in the Conference Finals this season.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Who would have guessed the second on the list would be a center? Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) has been an absolute beast for the whimpering Timberwolves this season. The two-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year has been carrying the Minnesota franchise on his back ever since they drafted him back in 2016.
As a stretch-five, KAT attempts 8.7 threes per game, hitting a more than respectable 43.4% this year, up from 4.6 attempts at 40% last season. What impresses me the most is in fact his ability to find team mates more frequently. Averaging 4.5 assists this season, KAT has steadily dished more dimes to his team mates since his first year in the league. At 26.2 points, 11.9 rebounds a game, KAT is en route to his third All-Star and likely All-NBA team this year.
Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Hornets
An unfamiliar name in this list, yet he is likely the deadliest here considering his potential ceiling. 24 games into the season, the Hornet’s second year guard has made the second most threes this season, only behind – you guessed it, James Harden.
Graham only attempts 8.7, while converting 42.1%. The main reason why Graham has a better percentage is because Harden has taken nearly one-hundred more threes. A slim margin separates the two players in made threes, and it’s impressive that Devonte’ is where he is.
Don’t forget that Graham is only playing in his second pro season, and he’s currently averaging 19.1 points and 7.7 assists per game, as compared to last season’s 4.7 points and 28.1% on threes. A candidate for the Most Improved Player award, Graham is the focal point for the Hornets this season despite Terry Rozier’s arrival from Boston.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
Another non-star name, Davis Bertans joined the crumbling Wizards from San Antonio during the off-season. A deadly spot-up shooter, Bertans took on his responsibility well at the Spurs’ given his limited time, averaging just 6.2 points in his three seasons there and shooting 3’s at a 40% rate. However, once he arrived at Washington, his minutes are almost doubled (16 to 28), coming off the bench as a crucial sixth man.
The Latvian is now averaging 14.4 points and hitting an insane 44.8% of his 8.3 attempted threes. On a roster without much support, Bertans’ points continue to keep the Wizards afloat.
Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls
The only hope for the Bulls, Zach Lavine carries the weight of the franchise on his shoulder. The 2x Slam Dunk Champion is proving that he has more than just out of the world hops, recently scoring a career high 49 points, with 13 three-point field goals, including the game-winning three pointer against the Hornets in November. An athletic freak of nature, Lavine is the only hope for Chicago’s push for a playoff berth.
This season, the former UCLA recruit is hitting 41.4% of his threes, attempting 7.3 a game. Lavine is taking the right steps on the offensive end of the floor, his defensive numbers are actually looking better too. He currently has his best defensive box plus/minus rating of his now three seasons at Chicago. If Lauri Markkanen buckles down and improves his numbers, a playoff spot is legitimately in sight for the Bulls.
J.J Redick, New Orleans Pelicans
There are no surprises here, as J.J Redick is a career 41.5% three point sniper. The veteran headed to the Pelicans to guide a young team of gunners after leaving the 76ers. His numbers easily show that wherever he goes, he make buckets. The 35-year-old is averaging 46.5% from beyond the arc this season, attempting 7.2 a game.
The nonchalant tone for in which I am saying this suggest just how normal this is for a sharpshooter like Redick in my perspective. In fact, it is hilarious that his three-point percentages (46.5%) are better than his field goal percentages (39.7%).
Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz
One of the splash uncles together with Joe Ingles, Bogdanovic moved over from the Indiana Pacers after two seasons. The Croatian fit immediately into Quinn Snyder’s starting rotation, putting up 20 points, four rebounds and two assists a game, relieving Jae Crowder from his previous role. In spite of lacking in athleticism, Bogdanovic makes it up with his ability to utilise screens to create space for a shot.
He is currently averaging 45.4% from three point range, attempting 6.9 per game.
Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
In Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s absence from the squad, Joe Harris provided the artillery. The 26-year-old is averaging 14.9 points this season, shooting lights out at 45.7% from threes. As the reigning three-point contest champion, nothing much can be added to Harris’ profile.
Harris is the starter on the Nets as solely a spot-up shooter, and his role might drop to sixth man when the two stars return from their injuries.
Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
One of Orlando’s core player, Evan Fournier has been improving significantly this season, averaging 19.7 points, 3.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds. The Frenchman’s partnership with Aaron Gordon has shown a tinge of stardom, and with the Magic now sitting at 8th place in the East, the team has a proper chance for a playoff spot.
Fournier is averaging 44.4% from threes, attempting 6.1 per game. In fact, across the board, all of Fournier’s major statistics went up. The Magic has been very quiet over the past decade, expect the team to create some waves in the coming season.
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