This draft may lack potential superstars past Anthony Davis, but it does have depth. And dunkers. And thankfully, shooters. Old heads are always complaining the fundamentals are gone in this new, modern age of basketball. No one wants to set screens, move the ball or take one-dribble pull-ups anymore. They just want to dunk and make top 10s. Those temptations are certainly there, especially for younger amateur players. But that doesn’t mean the art of the jump shot is gone.
Later this month at the 2012 NBA Draft, we’ll see college and international players rewarding for playing defense, being great athletes and also, a few will make it based on their beautiful strokes. We’re not sure how the following 10 players will fare once they actually get into the NBA, but we are sure of one thing.
These are the 10 best shooters in this June’s draft…
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10. EVAN FOURNIER
Last year’s foreign invasion of the NBA doesn’t appear to be the beginning of a trend. A year after three of the top seven picks played internationally, it doesn’t appear likely that anyone picked in the top 20 will be foreign-born. The crÃ¨me of the international crop, however, is Evan Fournier. The 6-6 Frenchman isn’t the most explosive, but possesses a soft mid-range touch and is very crafty offensively. Although his three-point shot can use a little improvement, his great attitude and sound mechanics should make that a simple task. Fournier seems to live for crunch time and boasts a high basketball IQ, so he shouldnt be slipping too far out of the first round (if at all).
9. TERRENCE ROSS
Terrence Ross has the ability to develop into a beast of a shooting guard. At 6-6, he will have the ability to shoot over the top of most shooting guards and already has the silky smooth J to help him succeed at it. Last year at Washington, Ross averaged 2.1 treys per game at a 37 percent clip. Despite his lethal stroke, his game has a lot more substance to it. He’s an exciting dunker in traffic and even better at slamming down lobs. He needs a little work defensively but his size gives him the ability to outrebound his position. Expect Ross to be drafted in the early-mid first round.
8. JEREMY LAMB
Jeremy Lamb measured in at the draft combine at 6-4 with a 6-11 wingspan. Although he has to improve his range a bit, his length will allow him to shoot over most two guards. In two seasons at UConn, Lamb shot 48 percent from the field, including 1.6 treys per game. He can score off screens and curls, pull-up jumpers, and even likes to go Tim Duncan once in a while and bank one in off the glass. He reportedly has a strong work ethic, which is important because he needs to improve his range in order to reach his full potential. However, because of his length and determination, Jeremy Lamb has a bright future both offensive and defensively in the NBA.
7. WILLIAM BUFORD
William Buford has sleeper written all over him. An old man by today’s NBA Draft standards, the senior from Ohio State has a ridiculous ability to knock down jumpers in a lot of different ways. He prefers to shoot off of one dribble but also has a quick release and is equally effective stepping into a shot. Buford’s shot selection is extremely efficient and he can tire defenders out by running around screens all game long. In four years at Ohio State, he shot 38 percent from downtown and averaged 1.5 threes per game. Buford is a very intelligent offensive player but probably won’t be selected until the early-mid second round. However, do expect him to make an NBA roster this fall.
6. DION WAITERS
If you’ve been following Dime‘s draft coverage, you already know that a lottery team has reportedly made a draft promise to Dion Waiters. But which team is it? Waiters is your prototypical combo-guard. Despite being only 6-4 with shoes on, he is a fierce defender who comes out of nowhere to cut off passing lanes and swipe balls from unsuspecting opponents. It should be interesting to see how he’ll fare against bigger two guards in the NBA, but Waiters has all the makings of a future star. Offensively, his stroke is unreal. He already has NBA three-point range and his mechanics are as smooth as they come. Waiters is capable of shooting off the dribble or the catch and release, and he should be able to contribute right from the get go. Last year at Syracuse, he averaged barely over a trey per game but shot 36 percent from downtown and 47 percent from the field.
5. DAMIAN LILLARD
Weber State came out of nowhere to surprise a lot of college basketball fans this past season. A lot of their success can be attributed to the nation’s second leading scorer, Damian Lillard. At 6-3, and with a lethal jump shot, it’s no wonder that he’s one of the top rated point guards in the draft. His shooting statistics are off the wall. Last season, he shot 40 percent from behind the arc on 7.1 attempts per game (making 2.9). From the field, he shot 47 percent and added in 89 percent from the free-throw line, where Lillard set up camp with eight attempts per game. His game should translate well to the next level because of his ability to get his shots up within the flow of running an offense. Lillard will definitely be a top-10 pick come draft day.
4. HARRISON BARNES
Basketball fans have been waiting for Harrison Barnes’ arrival to the NBA since the second he suited up in Tar Heel blue. Finally, his time has come. With an automatic mid-range game already in the arsenal, Barnes is set up for a long and prosperous NBA career. At 6-8 he has ideal size for a small forward, and both his footwork and high release on his jumper are a thing of beauty. His collegiate numbers don’t necessarily reflect the impact he had on games, but even a few no-shows in the NCAA Tournament aren’t enough to scare off GMs. Barnes is a lock to be a top-10 pick.
3. DORON LAMB
Sometimes lost in the flood of talent outpouring from Kentucky in this year’s draft is Doron Lamb. After two years for the defending national champions, he leaves with a career average of 13.1 points, aided by his 1.8 treys per game. His shooting percentages are what really stick out as he shot 49 percent from the field, an absurd 48 percent from behind the arc, and 81 percent from the free-throw line. Lamb’s role at the next level will be a strict floor spreader. His inability to see the floor along with his lack of size will restrict him from making a major impact. Nonetheless, expect to see Lamb get drafted sometime late in the first round.
2. BRADLEY BEAL
Personally, my favorite part about Bradley Beal is his catchy twitter name (@RealDealBeal23), but by no means am I taking anything away from his game. Beal is already an extremely talented shooter and he’ll be turning just 19 years old on draft day. He has the ability to get his jumper off in the blink of an eye and even though he has solid size for a shooting guard at 6-5 with a 6-8 wingspan, he plays well beyond that stature. In his only year at Florida, he averaged almost seven rebounds and just under a block per game. He’s not necessarily a great passer, but he knows what to do with the ball and can be trusted with the rock in his hands. Down the road I see Beal evolving into a James Harden-like role player. He’s a lock to get scooped up in the top 10 on draft day.
1. JOHN JENKINS
In a draft this deep at shooting guard, it’s easy to forget about someone as good as John Jenkins. This past season, he averaged a ridiculous 3.8 threes per game on 44 percent shooting from behind the arc. Despite not even being ranked as a top-5 two guard in this draft, he is by far the purest shooter. Unfortunately for his draft stock, he’s a bit of a one-trick pony. Sure his J is phenomenal, but what happens when an NBA-level defender is on his hip at every moment of the game? Jenkins is going to have to develop more of a slashing game, but if he can succeed at that as well as play enough defense to keep him on the court, he could develop into a wonderful role player. Right now, most mocks have him going late in the first round.
Who do you think are the best shooters in the draft?
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