MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 02: Randy Foye #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 2, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Well, after watching half of Randy Foye's 239 spot up three point attempts in mySynergySports.com 's scouting database I've come to the conclusion that now is the right time to talk about three point shooters. The Jazz don't take a lot of threes. That's because they don't have good three point makers. A while back we looked at how, even if you don't take a lot, success follows if you at least make an average percentage of what little you do take. Utah's General Manager Kevin O'Connor went out this off-season and traded for Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, signed free agent Randy Foye, and drafted Kevin Murphy. He has focused on three point makers this off-season.
That is good. But it's also good for us, the fans, to focus on three point shooters. There are different types. Ten different tiers, really, by my count. I've listed them all, pointed out their hot zones, frequency of use, and named some examples for each. This should be a handy list moving forward as I discuss three point shooters in the future. Feel free to expand this list as well, and add your own examples. Oh, and Randy Foye? He's in-between a Tier II and Tier III three point shooter right now. And he's damn good at spot ups.
Tier I: The three point shot is truly a weapon in this guy's arsenal. He can make his own shot / set up his own three point shot. He can make contested three pointers. His team's playbook has plays in it to get him the ball. His coaches encourage him to take the three. His team mates look for him, or look to free him - and do not get upset if he takes a three with 10 or more seconds on the shot clock. Designed plays call for this because he is so good.
Hot Zones: anywhere
Tier II: He can't make his own shot, but he can make contested shots. He moves great without the ball, and finds openings depending on what the defense does. He does rely on his team mates to get him open, or draw the focus to them; but he still has to make the shot and he does. You can depend on him to get in the right spot depending on what's happening on the floor, and maintain floor balance. Plays are not run with this player in mind; however, team mates look for him and no one gets upset if they miss when taking an open shot. These guys can help cut a lead down quickly, or rally the crowd in a blowout.
Hot Zones: Baseline, Sideline, and Angle three - rarely straight ahead
Tier III: This guy can't make his own shot, rarely makes contested shots - and really is at the mercy of both the opposing defense and his own team mates on offense. He will make the shot, but only if he catches the ball at the right time, and is open enough to not have to deal with defensive pressure. He does not slide over through zones well, and is not a guy who can go through screens. He can spot up, catch, and shoot. He's a limited guy, but he will burn you if you leave him open. Every time.
Hot Zones: Baseline, and Angle three
Tier IV: Inconsistent when open. They may be able to create their own shot, but miss. Or they may be able to slide through zones great and read defenses, but miss. Or they may be able to position themselves great, but miss. Or they may have to do nothing, lets their team mates set them up perfectly, have enough room to shoot without any pressure, and miss. Or they can catch fire and have a really hot streak where even their self-created bad shots go in. Their talent or aptitude for making threes seems to have little to do with the on court conditions (open, set play, etc), but more to do with their confidence at that moment.
Hot Zones: everywhere or nowhere
Tier V: Old guys who are not shooters, but over years and years somehow have that 'savvy' to take a deep shot - sometimes out of the offense and early in the clock - because they know they can make it. Even if there is no good reason to think they should.
Hot Zones: Angle three, either in transition or when defender sags off
Tier VI: Stretch bigs who are useful from outside, but not as a primary weapon. These guys aren't Dirk, they are guys who are left open on purpose. Bigmen with range, but not used enough to be a Tier II or Tier III shooter. You would rather have them get the ball in the paint still, but can make teams pay from outside. A guy like Novak or Bonner you'd ONLY want to get them the ball when they are outside.
Hot Zones: Front Arc (when trailing play), Baseline when spotting up
Tier VII: Young wings or guards who either don't have the absolutely confidence or experience in their shot at this level. Will most likely turn into a Tier II, III or IV guy with time. Rarely turn into a Tier I three point shooter. It really depends on how this player practices, and how that team plays.
Hot Zones: Sideline, Baseline
Tier VIII: You hate these guys taking threes. They aren't young guys who aren't sure about their shot yet. They are vets. And they're not inconsistent enough to go on hot streaks. They're always tepid. These guys are consistently poor options for outside shooting. No matter how confident they are. Sadly, they aren't bigmen.
Hot Zones: none, ever. never.
Tier IX: The Converted Athlete. They aren't real shooters, and they did not make it to the NBA based on their shooting ability. But over time they developed something. It's not good enough to be reliable, but it's not unreliable either. It doesn't depend on guile or old man trickery yet, either. It's . . . the very average three pointer from a converted athlete.
Hot Zones: Baseline and front arc
Tier X: Superstars who are not explicitly three point shooters, but who can make their own shot and no one says anything if they take too make threes. Their primary form of attack isn't a three, and they can at times fall in love with it. Still, these are the Anti-Tier I guys.
Hot Zones: Anywhere