What do the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics have in common? Besides being playoff teams, they are top-5 NBA offenses that shoot over 36% from three-point range.
Efficient offenses typically feature multiple deep threats across positions who can space the floor and create driving lanes for their interior players. The Kings unlocked the De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis duo by surrounding them with shooting threats like Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray. The Warriors have the splash brothers, while Boston uses guys like Al Horford and Derrick White as floor spacers to open up the floor for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to work.
The San Antonio Spurs did not have these kinds of threats last season. They were 26th in the NBA in three-point percentage (34.5%) and had the 29th ranked offense (110 offensive rating.) The Spurs only had six players who shot over 36% from three: Doug McDermott, Julian Champagnie, Keita Bates-Diop, Devin Vassell, Blake Wesley and Zach Collins.
San Antonio didn’t make too many offseason acquisitions, but the players they did bring in can shoot the ball. Reggie Bullock shot 38% from deep last year, and Cedi Osman knocked down 37.2% of his threes. Victor Wembanyama, while not an efficient shooter yet, has shown the capability to space the floor from deep as well.
Clearly the team recognizes the need for more shooting, and will look to improve from deep next season. But who will be the team’s best shooters? Let’s take a look at three players who could lead the team in three point shooting percentage next season.
Outside of Wembanyama, Vassell might be the most hyped player on the Spurs roster. Local fans and national media alike are expecting him to build upon his breakout season last year. In just 38 games last season, Vassell shot 38.7% from deep on 7 attempts per game.
Vassell’s combination of length and shooting makes him lethal on the wing. His release point is so high on deep shots, that it’s nearly impossible to bother him. When he had his rhythm pre-injury, Vassell looked like one of the better shooters off the catch and off the dribble in the NBA.
It will be interesting if the added gravity of Wembanyama will open up space for Vassell in the pick and roll, spotting up and coming off of handoffs. More open looks for a shooter of his caliber could lead to a boost to his three-point percentage. The Spurs will need him to shoot it well too, as the rest of their starting-caliber wings, like Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sohan, are not known to be deep threats.
One positional battle that I’m looking forward to watching unfold through training camp and into the preseason is the three-point shooting specialist off the bench. The Spurs have a few of them in McDermott, Osman, Bullock and Champagnie. The most exciting, and perhaps most explosive option is the second-year wing from St. Johns.
Last season Champagnie made the most of his short spurt with the Spurs, shooting 40.7% from three on 5.4 attempts per game. We saw that he could get hot in a hurry, and make defenses pay with him athleticism and length. In the summer league he looked like a man amongst boys, knocking down threes and attacking the basket. At 6-foot-9, he presents the most defensive upside with his frame and speed on the wing.
If Champagnie earns a legitimate role on this team, he should have the green light to scorch the nets from deep. For a team that desperately needs shooting, he can provide it in bunches off of the bench.
Besides Vassell, it’s hard to find another floor spacer in the Spurs starting lineup. Collins could very well fill that role from the center position. Last season Collins shot 37.4% from deep. In an expanded role this year, he will provide an interior presence on defense, and floor spacing on offense.
Collins isn’t a high volume three-point shooter, but was used as a release valve on pick and pops last year. He hit 39.4% of his spot-up threes last year, per Synergy. With Wembanyama likely taking more possessions in the high and low post, Collins could be utilized more as a screener and spacer off of the ball. In any case, the Spurs are likely going to rely on him to shoot the ball at a high level in a starting lineup that lacks deep threats.
Who will lead the Spurs in three-point percentage?
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