What is a pure shooter?

Some say you're born with the ability to be a pure shooter, and some say it can be attained through hard work. One thing is certain, though: the Thunder's lack of a consistent 3-point threat is holding the team back.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: January 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm •  Published: January 25, 2011

When Kevin Durant thinks of a pure shooter, he imagines one image.

“A guy that every time the ball leaves his hands it looks like it's going in,” Durant said.

The thought alone can strike fear into a defender.

Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder star, has done his share of damage to the psyches of plenty of defenders thanks to his shooting ability. The funny thing is Durant doesn't consider himself in that company.

“I'm not a pure shooter like a Ray Allen or a (Kyle) Korver,” Durant said. “Those are pure shooters. I'd say I'm a scorer.”

And there is a big difference.

Pure shooters are born, not created. That's the popular belief of many across the NBA. And most agree that the club is exclusive. Give even the best shooters a pop quiz on who their closest counterparts are and they're likely to struggle settling on more than a handful of candidates.

“It's one of the lost arts of our game,” said Stephen Curry, Golden State's second-year sharpshooter. “You can probably count less than five guys in the league right now that you would label as pure shooters.”

Allen, the Boston Celtics' shooting guard, is 24 3-pointers shy of passing Reggie Miller as the all-time career leader in made 3-pointers. He is the consensus leader of the pure-shooter pack. Chicago's Korver, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, Phoenix's Steve Nash and Orlando's J.J. Redick complete a widely agreed upon list of the top five in the league today.

“Kevin's working his way into becoming one,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He has great technique and his belief is great. But he's not there yet.”

If Durant isn't there, no one on the Thunder is.

The team's statistics bear out that fact. The Thunder will walk into tonight's game at Minnesota as the league's second-worst 3-point shooting team, converting on just 32.3 percent. Second-year guards James Harden and Eric Maynor are the only Thunder players with at least 10 attempts shooting at least 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Unreliable perimeter shooting has been one of the Thunder's biggest problem areas this season. It came to a head last Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers, when the Thunder shot a season-low 2-for-22 from downtown. Two nights later, against Denver, the Thunder made just three of 15 3-pointers.

With next month's trading deadline approaching, many Thunder observers are wondering whether general manager Sam Presti will make a move for a pure shooter. But in reality, Brooks' resolute nine-man rotation doesn't lend itself to many minutes for any potential newbie. The Thunder appeared to have made strides in shoring up the sore spot when it acquired Morris Peterson and Daequan Cook over the summer in separate trades. Instead, the two have combined to play 100 minutes over 12 games.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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CURRY'S CUT

Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry lists three pure shooters he would pay to watch.

ANTHONY MORROW, NEW JERSEY

Career stats: 11.7 ppg, 47.0 FG%, 44.8 3PT%

You might know him as: The player who posted 25 points on the Thunder in a triple-overtime game on Dec. 1, hitting nine of 15 shots and three of six 3-pointers, including a running 3 at the regulation buzzer that forced overtime.

You might not know: Morrow went undrafted in 2008 out of Georgia Tech and led the league in 3-point percentage at 46.7 percent a year later with Golden State.

KYLE KORVER, CHICAGO

Career stats: 9.7 ppg, 43.0 FG%, 41.0 3PT%

You might know him as: Aside from being an Ashton Kutcher lookalike, the leader of a Creighton team that made the NCAA Tournament each of his four seasons from 1999-2003. Korver's 12th-seeded Bluejays upset 5th-seeded Florida in 2002.

You might not know: Korver was the 51st overall pick by New Jersey in the 2003 draft before his rights were immediately traded to Philadelphia for cash.

RAY ALLEN, BOSTON

Career stats: 14.8 ppg, 42.1 FG%, 39.8 3PT%.

You might know him as: The key piece in the 2007 draft-night blockbuster trade that paved the way for the Celtics' “Big Three,” while giving the Thunder franchise that year's No. 5 overall pick, which turned into Jeff Green.

You might not know: Allen holds the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a season with 269 and is just 24 3-pointers from passing Reggie Miller as the league's career leader in made 3s.

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