Throughout the years, basketball in the NBA has evolved from scoring inside to midrange to shooting all the way from the logo. There were dominant big men like Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan posting up to get easy points in the paint and wings like MJ or Kobe going iso to get to their midrange sweet spots.
In today’s NBA, we see more teams spread their offense out to the 3-point line to create more space so playmakers like Steph Curry, Trae Young, and Damian Lillard can use their skills to go all the way to the basket or kick it out to their shooters.
A decade ago, the team that shot the most 3-pointers averaged 25.5 attempts per game. That number is way below the average of the team with the lowest number of 3-point attempts this season. The Chicago Bulls are averaging 26.4 3-point attempts per game, good for 30th in the league. The most 3-point happy team? The Minnesota Timberwolves with 44.4 attempts per game. Whether fans like it or not, the game has evolved and the numbers don’t lie.
This evolution has developed different kinds of shooters around the league. You would think all shooters are the same. Get the ball and shoot it from the outside, right? Nope. The game’s evolution will eventually lead to the innovation of individual players.
Here, I talk about the top catch-and-shoot players in the league and how they are very different from each other.
Average from catch-and-shoot situations: 8.7 points
Just a few games into the season, we’ve seen so many highlights from the former MVP. Steph is known for shots from the logo and showing off his handles before pulling up for a 3 or driving to the basket. While he does so many things for his team (including playing solid defense), he’s also one of the top catch-and-shoot players this year with 8.7 points.
Don’t get me wrong, though, Steph is not a spot-up 3-point shooter. The Warriors’ offensive system is built to set him up through pin-down and staggered screens or find him in transition to find him while the defense is not set. The difference between Steph and other top shooters in the league is that he can create his own shot using his handles and skills.
Average from catch-and-shoot situations: 8.1 points
Compared to Steph, Joe Harris gets paid to space out and shoot 3s. Sometimes the Nets call plays for him, but most of the time he’s standing in the corner or on the wings. The Brooklyn Nets run their offense through their superstars in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving.
Harris’s job is to wait for his man to help on the super scorers and get a wide-open 3-point shot. When his man doesn’t help and just sticks to him, he’s done his job in creating more space for their Big 3 to operate and score. When his defender closes out on him, he usually has limited options: he goes for his one-dribble pull-up or straight to the rim if the lane is open.
Average from catch-and-shoot situations: 7.7 points
Carmelo Anthony has evolved from a superstar who gets his points by isolating against defenders and using his skill to get buckets to a guy who can space the floor and shoot off the catch. It’s great to see him adjust his style of play from shooting a lot of midrange jumpers and stopping the movement of the ball to being efficient and sharing the basketball more when he doesn’t have the shot.
Average from catch-and-shoot situations: 6.9
Buddy Hield’s way of getting his points is similar to Harris’. The Sacramento Kings usually set up a series of off-ball screens to get him open. The difference, though, from Harris is that Hield has more counters and dribble moves in his arsenal when a defender tries to close out on his shots. He does it also off the bench and in limited minutes which makes him a very efficient option for Sacramento.
Average from catch-and-shoot situations: 6.5
KAT has been getting 6.5 points off catch-and-shoot situations this year but the way he gets buckets is different from how Joe or Steph get theirs. With the emergence of the 5-out offense (all five players outside the 3-point line—even the bigs), KAT has been forcing opposing big men to guard him all the way out. Since he’s quicker than most bigs, his 3-point shooting allows him to use his skills to go to the rim as well. His versatility and ability to shoot the 3-ball make 5-out systems very effective. Most opposing shot-blockers would leave the shaded area, giving guys like D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards room to drive strong to the hoop without big guys challenging them.
Editor’s note: Stats used in this article are from NBA.com and updated as of Dec. 1 (PHT).