The now-popular ‘trash talk’ quote from Kawhi Leonard‘s college days went viral during the 2019 NBA Finals. As simple as it may sound, that’s the main objective of the game of basketball. Put the ball in the basket more times than your opponent. So simple, yet so complicated.
Whether it’s catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble, players have thrived at creating ways to score the ball. While some players are shooting specialist, others are effective by just being overall deadly scorers. Here are some of the top shooters in the 2019 NBA free agent class (all unrestricted free agents):
[FG = Field Goals, 3FG = Three-Point Field Goals, FT = Free Throws, TS = True Shooting]
2018-19 stats: 46.7% FG, 40.2% 3FG, 81.6% FT, 57.1% TS
Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters of all-time. He has many clutch playoff performances, particularly in Game 6 situations. He can be the starting shooting guard on almost any team in the league.
2018-19 stats: 45.6% FG, 45% 3FG, 84.6% FT, 59.5% TS
Not to be confused with his brother Steph, Curry can shoot the lights out on his own accord. He finished third in three-point percentage, which he hopes can catapult his career and get a much-deserved raise.
2018-19 stats: 46.5% FG, 45.5% 3FG, 84.1% FT, 63.2% TS
The now two-time NBA champion showed that he can be successful outside of the San Antonio Spurs’ system. He can be a plug-and-play guy and exhibits professionalism. Whether he starts or comes off the bench doesn’t matter, as he has shown he can remain poised through adversity.
2018-19 stats: 52.1% FG, 35.3% 3FG, 88.5% FT, 63.1% TS
Not even an Achilles injury is going to slow this guy down. Despite likely missing the entire 2019-20 NBA season, we can expect Durant’s shooting abilities to remain intact. Let’s not forget he was playing his best basketball of the season right before he initially went down against Houston.
2018-19 stats: 48.7% FG, 40.1% 3FG, 87.3% FT, 59.2% TS
Despite all the noise surrounding the Boston Celtics season, Kyrie Irving quietly had a spectacular statistical season. Being percentage points away from pushing for 50/40/90 emphasizes his greatness. Leadership issues aside, defenders will always cringe seeing the ball leave his hands.
2018-19 stats: 49.7% FG, 42.5% 3FG, 80.7% FT, 61.3% TS
Much of the basketball world forgot about the Indiana Pacers after the devastating injury to All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. Too bad for them, as they missed out on phenomenal shooting from Bogdanovic. He’s a guy that can give you solid minutes in an eight-to-nine-man playoff rotation.
2018-19 stats: 44% FG, 39.7% 3FG, 89.4% FT, 60.2% TS
We shouldn’t have to sing the same song about Redick. You know exactly what he brings to the table and he works his tail off to ensure his productivity. Once a shooter, always a shooter.
2018-19 stats: 44.1% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 83.7% FT, 55.8% TS
Somewhat of a prototypical ‘3-and-D’ player, Middleton can catch and shoot, and also pull up off the bounce. As the off guard, he opens the lane for the ball handler to operate and stays ready. His ability to create his own shot comes as a luxury.
2018-19 stats: 45.2% FG, 36.5% 3FG, 84.2% FT, 59.7% TS
Splash Mountain? It’s amazing how far Brook Lopez has come and how deep he’s extended his range. In today’s pace-and-space NBA, Lopez is a hot commodity and can be effective for many teams. His height makes shot blocking on the perimeter a non-factor, and he’s shown flashes of using the pump fake to create a different look. Scary.
2018-19 stats: 43.9% FG, 36.5% 3FG, 84.7% FT, 58.4% TS
Mirotic is a fearless shooter and he’s shown it at every stop in his career. Also considered a stretch forward, Mirotic could be a huge problem given the right environment. Teams in win-now mode looking for a shooting boost will definitely look his way.