Last night in the NBA there were six different players who dropped at least 6 three pointers on the other team. Five of those six players ended up shooting 55% or better from deep in that game. The only guy who did not was a Utah Jazz player. Now, I love seeing Gordon Hayward go 6/12 from outside. It was awesome to see him hit so many threes while shooting way above his average . . . but it is a little overshadowed when J.J. Redick goes 9/12, goes 7/12, goes 7/9, Kemba Walker goes 6/11, and C.J. McCollum goes 6/10. It was a great performance, but just a bad night to do it. Before G-Time's "Miller Time" impersonation Jazzmen had hit for six or more threes in a game only 17 times since 1985-86 and last night. Gordon's night makes it 18 for the Jazz, and the most recent games of this nature were had by (November 7th, 2015), Mo Williams (April 1st, 2013), and (March 30th, 2013, February 2nd, 2013, and January 11th, 2013). Recent memory tells us that it does happen, but when you compare with your peers 18 isn't that big of a number. The Seattle Supersonics / Oklahoma City Thunder have had 83 such games, a Portland Trail Blazers did it 73 times, our mountain neighbors the Denver Nuggets racked up 95 different instances, and even the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves have had 42 different games of a player making at least six three pointers. Utah is in last place, and that's just with the four other teams in their division -- including one team that didn't even exist when the data set first started (1985-1986).
Utah hasn't had a lot of the long ball in their careers. Part of that was strategy. Part of that was convention. But the most reasonable reason is personnel. It's really cool when Gordon Hayward, who has been balling of late, can step outside and rain deadly terror on his opponents. But as an All-Around wing that's not his job. The best case example is LeBron James. He has played in 1,127 total regular season and playoff games in his career. He has hit six or more three pointers in a game only 16 times. It's not the responsibility of your All-Around wing player to do that, even if he is almost always your top scorer. LeBron has hit six of more threes in 1.42% of his games played. Gordon Hayward has played in 408 total games and done the feat just once, a 0.25% of the time occurrence -- both forwards do it less than 2% of the time they play, so there. Using LeBron as a guide this just solidifies my idea that it's not Gordon's job to be the primary ball handler, primary scorer, and ALSO the top three point shooter all in the same game.
I understand that our current offense is a sharing one, everyone is supposed to do everything -- pass, set screens, dribble, shoot, and score. But there's a reason why specialization exists -- and it's so that specialists can do what they do best, and do it in ways a more Socialist approach cannot, *ahem*, hope to ever approach. It would be a huge asset for the team to have a legit knock down three point shooter. Of course, all teams would want to have one (or more) of them on their teams. I get that. There are only a few people who are really amazing at their jobs. And as a result, not every franchise gets to add one of them to their team.
But I do feel like the Jazz would really be a better team if there were less generalists on the team, and a few specialists. One specialist I'd love to see is precisely that -- a legit knock down shooter. Someone who can help our team even up the score compared to (at least) the four other teams in the North West division. After all, winning games would be easier with such a player on the roster.
So who is a knock down three point shooter? I'm going to say someone who plays at least 60 games a season, takes at least two threes a game, and shoots at least 38.5% from outside. Also, to differentiate between a stretch big, this player has to be 6'8 or shorter. Does such a player exist? According to Basketball-Reference.com, at least 149 players have done this at least once since 2005-2006 and today. (10 seasons + this ongoing one.) The players who have accomplished this the most are Kyle Korver (8 times), (7), (6), (5), (5), Jose Calderon (5), Stephen Curry (5), Richard Jefferson (5), J.R. Smith (5), Arron Afflalo (4), (4), (4), Steve Blake (4), Jared Dudley (4), (4), (4), Wesley Matthews (4), (4), (4), (4), Paul Pierce (4), (4), and (4). Only 7 of those 23 players are point guards, so convention suggests that you need a shooting specialist who is -- I'll wait for you to figure this out -- most likely a shooting guard.
On the Jazz roster right now I see another All-Around Wing player in J.J. O'Brien. It's nice to have some D to go with your three, otherwise you are left with guys like Randy Foye -- who did a lot of great shooting, but not much else. The other guy who is a wing player, but wasn't yet mentioned, is . But I don't know how to classify him. We see him knocking down a lot of threes, important ones, but he's more than just a three point shooter. He's also somehow more than just an All-Around wing player also. He defies classification, but for the record, this season he is taking 2.6 threes a game and making 38.2% of them. That's close to what I want, but his 14.0 mpg and 14.9 USG% do not really scream out perimeter threat like we envision Kyle Korver or J.J. Redick . . . right?, I see a scoring specialist in (not a shooting specialist), and I see a number of "Three and D" aspirants in and
While it seems like I'm dismissing the jack of all trades Joe Ingles as a non-serious contender to be one of these really dependable three point shooters, it's not like I'm asking for the impossible. Six different Jazzmen did it for a season, playing in at least 60 games, taking at least two threes a game, and making at least 38.5% of them: Deron Williams (twice), Randy Foye, , Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, and Kyle Korver.
Williams and Hayward were drafted. Foye was a free agent signing. And Giricek, Jefferson, and Korver were traded for. So we know it's possible to get one of these shooters on the team. In the case of Hayward, he shot this well when he was the 3rd or 4th option in the starting lineup getting a number of open looks while playing next to Al Jefferson. This is a legit wrinkle to admit -- it's easier to look great when all you have to do is hit wide open shots. Aka. The Sasha Vujacic theorem. If the Jazz had a more regimented and reliable post scoring presence it's possible that more perimeter guys would be open. The fly in the ointment of course is that a) you can elicit defensive overplays with ball movement and dribble penetration and you don't need a bigman who shoots 20 times a game, and b) our guys just flat out miss open shots anyway and getting more of them may not help.
Having a wing player who can drop six threes in a game frequently enough isn't the most important thing in the world. But it's a player type that the best teams seem to have, even including the teams who play a team first, ball sharing offense like the San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green (16 times), (11x), Chuck Person (11x), Sean Elliott (8x), (4x), (2x), (1x), (1x). (N.B. These are just SOME of the wing players who hit six or more threes in a game, while wearing a Spurs uniform.)
Of course, not every player who gets hot and has the green light to shoot threes -- and hits six of them in a game -- end up also doing it in a season where they meet the other criteria I've laid out (60 games in a season, 38.5% shooting, etc). And not all players who do fit that criteria for outside shooter quality finish a game with six made threes.
But there have to be a few. Why can't one of them be on the Utah Jazz?