Over at Clipperblog last week, Kevin Arnovitz wrote a nice little diddy about sharpshooting forward Steve Novak and the concept of the 180 shooter. Rick Majerus evidently coined the term and it means adding a players’ field goal, three point and free throw percentages and see if it total 180. If it does, then you’re a dang fine – DANG FINE - shooter.
So I got to thinking: Does OKC have any potential 180 shooters? Well, obviously Desmond Mason, right? Oh, he’s just a 97 shooter (in his defense, he is just 0-3 from three). Obviously, on the Thunder roster just one player is even in the discussion. But looking at the numbers, what Durant is doing is kind of amazing. Right now KD’s total is 175.9. He’s shooting 47.2 percent from the field, 43.3 from three and 85.4 from the free throw line. Compare that to last year, where Durant’s total was 159.1. He hit 43 percent from the field, a paltry 28.8 from trey and 87.3 from the line. (One thing that I’d like to point out is that a lot of people chalk up Durant’s low field goal percentage last year due to shot selection and too many threes. The thing is, he’s taking 3.1 threes per game compared to 2.6 last year. The difference? He’s making them. He’s not forcing it. He’s letting the looks come when they do. Just wanted to throw that out there.)
For perspective, look at the top five scorers in the league. Dwayne Wade leads the league in scoring and his score is 149.4. LeBron has a 156.1. Kobe is a 169.3. Danny Granger has a 171.3. Dirk Nowitzki clocks in at 177.0. What’s separating guys like Dirk and KD is their ability to hit the three. That’s where most players fail. LeBron hits a high percentage of shots, but that’s because he’s only four feet away from it most of the time. The trend with 180 shooters (or guys close to it) is that they are typically guards or “specialist” players. You don’t typically see scorers like Durant and Dirk in the upper 170′s.
From my research (and by research, I mean spending 10 minutes on ESPN.com scanning through stats), Jose Calderon is tops in the league with a 194.9 (he’s 76-76 from the free throw line), Steve Nash is second with a 187.9, Jameer Nelson third with a 184. Ray Allen checks in with a 183. Now there’s some guys that aren’t hoisting a lot of shots like Anthony Morrow who has a 181.6. But he’s only taken 66 threes and 40 free throws (Durant’s taken 127 threes and 254 free throws).
But what’s impressive to me is that Durant is in a very select group of scorers that can shoot. KD is sixth in the league in scoring (24.1 ppg) and is only behind Dirk in points per game and 180 score. That’s dang impressive. Like I said, most of the 180 guys or guys that are close are specialists or guards. But Durant is a three that scores from everywhere. Oh, and he’s JUST 20 YEARS OLD. If he could take his free throw percentage up from 85.4 to 89.5, he’d be a 180 guy. And that’s not much. Now the question is whether or not KD can do it for a career. Calderon may be a 195 now, but he’s a 172 for his career. Right now, Durant is set back by his 159 last season, but if he can continue to have years like this with maybe a few big seasons in between, he could be finish in 175 area – which is really big time. Larry Bird was a 175.8 for his career. Jordan was a 165.9. Reggie Miller a 175.4. But again, Durant’s just 20. There’s a long way to go.