The Best Shooters in the NBA Right Now

  • 10. Kevin Love

    I nearly put LeBron James here before deciding on his teammate instead. My reasoning? ‘Bron might’ve really, really improved his jump shot, but his strength, power, and ability to finish plays right at the rim play a huge part in his absurd efficiency levels. Love? He’s not as efficient but he can absolutely stroke it.

    Cleveland’s newest star is possibly the best-shooting “big” man in the league, as long as we’re counting KD as a small. Either way, what Love did to expand his game out past the arc is impressive. As a rook, he took 19 triples. Then 106 the following year. By his sixth season, he took an insane 505. Five-hundred and five! His field goal percentage will never be that high simply because he’s a smaller big with short arms. But from the perimeter it’s hard to compete with him and I’d take the skills of someone who shoots in the high 30s on a high volume of shots rather than someone who gets to pick their spots.

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  • 9. Damian Lillard

    Lillard really struggled to finish around the rim this year and that was the major reason why he shot just 42 percent from the floor. In fact, that’s two years in a row now that he hasn’t even eclipsed 43 percent. But despite that, Lillard can shoot with anyone on the perimeter. Anyone who shoots over 39 percent on almost seven three-point attempts per game is big time.

    Lillard also shot 87 percent from the stripe, but it’s the deep ball that really sets him apart. He might have the best pull-up jumper in the game, a shot that’s vastly more difficult than a simple catch-n-shoot. Being Portland’s primary ballhandler, he’s constantly shrouded by defenders and yet this dude continues to drop buckets. Last season, he made the third-most triples in the league even though only 60 percent of them were assisted.

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  • 8. Ryan Anderson

    One of the NBA’s best stretch fours, Anderson hit 213 three-pointers two seasons ago, more than anyone else has made during that stretch outside of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Damian Lillard. Last year he hardly played because of injuries but the cannon is still there.

    At 6-10, Anderson burst onto the scene as a second-year player next to Dwight Howard, garnering more open looks than he knew what to do with. Now playing next to Anthony Davis, you can bet he’ll cash in this year.

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  • 7. Carmelo Anthony

    Anthony has the league’s deadliest pull-up jumper. It might be the quickest too. He might not shoot an otherworldly percentage like some of the cats on this list but that has more to do with his role than anything else. Did you ever watch him play internationally? When he played without the ball and was only asked to come in and stroke the rock? This guy was lights out. Scary good.

    Outside of the paint, according to his shot chart, ‘Melo is either smoking hot or above average in every area outside of the right wing. During his last two seasons in New York, Anthony has made well over 300 triples and as his career has gone on, he’s drifting farther and farther away from the rim. My guess? That trend continues until a 36-year-old ‘Melo is like a 6-8 version of Dirk.

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  • 6. Klay Thompson

    If we’re talking about the most beautiful stroke in the business, it might be this guy.

    Thompson is still coming into his own as a complete player, but he’s always been a great shooter. He always will be too, with that minimal movement, that quick release, that high release point, and the balance he has in his legs. It’s not always fun to watch a great shooter do work, but I could watch this cat chuck ’em up all day.

    Thompson was only 11th in three-point percentage last year, but he also made more than anyone else other than his own backcourt teammate. One thing he can improve on to work his way into the top five, however, is his shooting off the dribble. Ninety-four percent of his career three-pointers have been assisted. He’s more of a catch-n-shoot player than you realize right now.

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  • 5. Jose Calderon

    You might not realize this but Calderon is one of this generation’s greatest shooting talents. He once challenged Micheal Williams‘ record for most free throw makes in a row and is an overlooked member of the illustrious 50/40/90 club. He’s led the league in both free throw percentage and three-point percentage in different seasons, and hasn’t shot below 40 percent from deep since the 2011-12 season.

    He’s managed to do all this despite having an average shooting distance of over 20 feet last year. Now with the New York Knicks, he’ll have the keys to the offense this year.

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  • 4. Kyle Korver

    Korver has been in the NBA for over a decade and really, there’s only one reason why: Dude has a legit J. A career 43 percent shooter from deep, Creighton’s finest is on the cusp of entering the top 10 all time in career three-point percentage. From the wings, Korver is very, very good. But from the top of the key and in both corners, the 6-7 wingman is lights out. You can’t give him an inch.

    Last season, Korver was tied for fifth in the league at 2.6 triples per game.

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  • 3. Dirk Nowitzki

    Dirk might be 36 years old but it feels like he hasn’t lost a step. In terms of shooting, he might be better than ever. Last season he narrowly missed joining the 50/40/90 club for the second time in his career–shooting .497 percent from the field, .398 percent from deep, and .899 from the line–which would have made him just the third player (after Steve Nash and Larry Bird) in NBA history to do that twice.

    There is literally no one like him, and if we were judging this list based off last season, it’d be hard not to say Dirk isn’t the top shooter. Take a look at his short chart: red everywhere outside of the left wing. But considering Durant and Curry are both only 26, you have to assume they’ll continue to improve their efficiency as the Big German takes another small step back.

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  • 2. Kevin Durant

    I’ve written at length about all the things that make KD so hard to stop, but it probably all revolves around his shooting. That opens everything up for him. A career 38 percent three-point shooter, Durant gets extra credit for not only improving as his career has gone on but also doing it in high volumes and doing it as the focus of every defensive gameplan.

    KD shoots more off-the-dribble threes than he ever has before so keeping up his level of efficiency is an incredible feat.

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  • 1. Stephen Curry

    Look at that form. Look at all those buckets. The crazy thing about Curry’s percentages (47 percent from the floor, 42 percent from deep, and 89 percent from the line) are that they come with everyone in the building knowing he’s gonna let it fly. The defense just can’t do anything with that quick release.

    This is what happens when you give a player a cannon…and then sprinkle in a little handle as well.

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  • Kevin Love
  • Damian Lillard
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Klay Thompson
  • Jose Calderon
  • Kyle Korver
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Kevin Durant
  • Stephen Curry

Shooting is fundamental. It’s the first thing you learn on the basketball court and it’s the last thing to leave you when you get older. Fall in love with your jump shot. It’s going to last longer than any dunk or crossover or shake-n-bake you got.

Having a great shooter is essential at any level. It opens up the court, which allows more driving lanes. It stretches the defense, which allows for more long rebound opportunities. It helps to eliminate the midrange shot, which is normally the least efficient shot in basketball. It allows for quicker comebacks, you know, considering the three-point shot is worth more. And it has completely transformed college basketball, and will probably do the same to high school basketball within the next decade.

To win at any level, you need shooters. That’s not a question. They score efficiently and they’re easy to plug into the lineup. But despite the convenient way of rating them–straight percentages–it’s actually a little harder than you realize to differentiate the best from the decent. How many open threes are they getting? How many shots are they taking off the dribble? How much is the team asking them to do? Are they great midrange shooters? It’s why we have no problem saying Kevin Durant is a better shooter than Klay Thompson even though most fans around the world will immediately shake their heads, considering Thompson is a “shooter” and KD is a “scorer.”

With the NBA season having started, however, you can argue about a lot of things related to shooting, yet you can’t argue about Stephen Curry‘s place among the elite. With his latest sneaker dropping tomorrow at Champs Sports–dubbed the Under Armour Drive–and with Curry looking forward to his first signature sneaker later this season, we’re measuring just how good Golden State’s ultimate weapon will be this year. Here are The Best Shooters in the NBA Right Now.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney