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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ranking the 10 best pure shooters in the NBA

Klay Thompson

There is one bit of ecletic wisdom that has truly stuck with me over the years. Perhaps it is from the Bible. Perhaps it is advice that was given to me by my fifth-grade teacher. Or perhaps I once saw it tattooed on Nick Young’s left arm. In any case however, it is an adage that has helped guide me through times of uncertainty, self-doubt, and offensive stagnancy alike, and it is this: [clears throat for dramatic emphasis] … shooters shoot. Yes, this is the foundational principle upon which I choose to live my life, and here are the NBA players who best embody it in its purest and most unadulterated form.

*Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference*

10. Jodie Meeks, SG, Washington Wizards

The veteran sharpshooter missed 125 games over the past two seasons due to injury, but let’s not forget what he’s capable of when healthy. Whether he’s hedgehogging around screens or springing free for spot-up opportunities, Meeks changes the geometry of the court as defenses contort to cover him. His reputation has been well-earned. A 2013-14 season where he netted 2.1 treys a night for the LA Lakers on 40.1 percent shooting offered a window into his upside, and it’s only a matter of time before he recovers his pre-injury form now that he is playing with a world-class creator like John Wall in Washington. Blessed is the Meeks, for he shall inherit the earth.

9. Joe Ingles, SF, Utah Jazz

It’s never too early for some Jingles Bells. At least the Jazz certainly don’t think so; they have reaped the benefits this season of Ingles’ team-leading 2.4 threes a game at a 43.7 percent success rate to go along with his supremely underrated passing and ball-handling skills. Sure, the name isn’t sexy. But the southpaw stroke certainly is.

The Australian is putting together quite the follow-up to a 2016-17 campaign where he clocked in fourth in the league in three-point percentage and had All-Star Weekend knocking at his door. Now all that’s left for Ingles to do is to start letting his opponents know just how disrespectful his game really is … oh wait, he’s already got that covered too.

8. Kevin Durant, SF/PF, Golden State Warriors

To many, Durant’s reputation is either that of a scorer, a Twitter troll, or a snake. But his talent as a straight shooting specimen can often be overlooked.

Perhaps it’s the “modest” 38.1 career three-point percentage, but nobody (other than perhaps a certain superstar teammate who we will get into later) strikes as much fear into the intestines of the opposition as Durant does as soon as he crosses halfcourt. And though it’s early, this is shaping up to be the four-time scoring champion’s best season dialing long distance yet (pouring in 2.9 triples a night with 46.7 percent accuracy, both career bests). If aliens invade our planet and they allow us one specific shot from one specific player to salvage our species, give me a Kevin Durant pull-up three from the wing and I’ll see you at the “We Saved The World” parade.

7. Troy Daniels, SG, Phoenix Suns

Daniels may have the least name recognition of anybody on this list, but he still shoots flames out of his fingertips no less. The VCU product catapulted onto the scene with the Charlotte Hornets in 2015-16, posting a league-leading 48.4 percent shooting from deep. For his career, Daniels actually has a higher career conversion rate on three-pointers (40.8) than he does on two-pointers (38.1). He is raising his usual raucous from long-range in Phoenix this season, hitting 3.7 treys per 36 minutes at a 42.6 percent clip. Rumor has it that if you say his name three times fast while staring into a bathroom mirror, Daniels will appear with a bloody basketball and splash a three right in your grill.

6. Luke Babbitt, SF/PF, Atlanta Hawks

Babbitt is the textbook definition of a three-point specialist. He has never averaged more than eight points a contest in a single season, he doesn’t really impact the game as a rebounder or a playmaker, and he often plays defense like he has two left feet. But Babbitt’s left hand is golden, and that’s all that matters. 2017-18 is on track to be the journeyman forward’s fourth-straight season connecting on at least 40 percent of his attempts from distance (topping out at a batty 51.3 percent for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2014-15). That has helped Babbitt produce a higher career three-point percentage than the likes of Ray Allen, Mark Price, and Peja Stojakovic on the all-time list. It’s clear that he has made the most of his lone discernible NBA skill.

See Nos. 5-1 on Page 2

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