We conclude ranking the Golden State Warriors’ best shooters.
5. Omri Casspi
Casspi did not have a good shooting season last year: he bounced between three teams, and had surgery on the thumb on his shooting hand. As a result, his free throw percentage fell to 58% and his three-point percentage fell to 34%.
But his shooting in the two previous years, when he was a key part of the Sacramento Kings, was nothing short of incredible. He hit 40% of his threes in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season, well above league average.
Two years ago, Stephen Curry went on a rampage from distance against the Kings. But Omri Casspi kept right up with him, hitting threes from way beyond the line.
Casspi is weirdly inconsistent—his career free throw percentage is only 67%, and his three point percentage has fluctuated throughout his career—but if he is healthy this season, he’ll be a solid combo forward who’s a real threat beyond the arc. On this team, he’ll get more open threes than he’s ever had in his life.
4. Nick Young
Young is a peculiar player whose reputation around the league is outdated. Earlier in his career, Nick Young was the quintessential chucker, throwing up threes, jumpers off the dribble, and everything in between. He was not an effective basketball player.
But last year, under former Warriors coach Luke Walton, Nick Young had a comeback year for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nick Young shot 9.7 threes per 36 minutes, sinking them at a 40% rate—both good volume and good efficiency. He also virtually eliminated two-pointers from his game; 66% of his shots were threes, and 90% of them were assisted. Currently, Nick Young is a high-volume, efficient spot-up shooter offensively.
Here’s Young hitting threes off screens, finding open spaces offball, and even hitting a few off the dribble:
For the Warriors, that enough is sufficient. Young is a natural shooter, hitting 83% of his free throws over his career, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t an above-average shooter next season. Like Casspi, Young will have more open shots now than he’s ever dreamed.
3. Kevin Durant
Durant would be the best shooter on most teams in the league, but on the Warriors, he’s only third on the list. He’s one of the best all-around scorers of all time, with incredible height, shooting, and slashing.
Kevin Durant’s free throw percentage has hovered around a spectacular 88% throughout the years. He is the master of the deep midrange: he shot 55% from the area from 16 feet from the basket to the three point line.
But his three point rate is not as high as one might think, given his reputation as one of the best shooters in the league. In his last year for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant hit 38% of his threes, and many expected that to increase on the Warriors, who space the floor and distribute the ball better. But in fact, his three point percentage fell a tiny bit to 37%. His career rate is 37.9%.
Although it’s likely that his long-range shooting isn’t actually elite, it is possible that he’ll take the next step as a three-point shooter with more familiarity with the Warriors’ system. In the playoffs, Durant shot threes more often, and made a startling 44% of them. We will never forget this shot:
2. Klay Thompson
This season, many expected Thompson to take a backseat offensively with Kevin Durant newly aboard. That didn’t happen: Thompson hit 268 threes this season, the second most of any player this season and seventh most of all time. Per 36 minutes, he hit 3.6 threes at a 41% clip, which is tremendous.
It is difficult to understate how often Klay shoots threes: although other players might be equal to him in terms of pure shooting, Klay’s ability to find open space on the three point line and his relentless screen-running is so tough to guard. Even if defenders stay with him, his lightning-quick release and his size for a shooting guard makes it very difficult to contest his shot. Klay was good from the free throw line, shooting 85%, and shot a solid 46% from the midrange.
Klay can also heat up to levels even beyond what his teammate Stephen Curry can muster. There was his 37-point quarter against the Kings two years ago, his Game 6 eruption against the Thunder that saved the Warriors’ season last year, and his 60 points in 29 minutes against the Pacers this year.
He certainly has a case that he’s the second-best shooter of all time, and even if he’s not there yet, he could get there in just a few years if he continues at his pace.
1. Stephen Curry
He’s the best shooter of all time.
Although Curry’s 2016-2017 season was a step back from his unanimous MVP 2015-2016 season, he grew accustomed to KD’s presence and improved over the course of the season. Even so, he hit 324 threes this season, second only to his performance last year all-time. Per 36 minutes, he sinked 4.4 threes, which is incredible. He shot a shade under 90% from the free throw line, sixth in the league.
His three-point percentage was a little low this year, at 41%, relative to his career average of 43.8%. Expect that to regress to the mean next year.
Steph’s three pointers are different than any other shooter, including Klay’s. While 87.8% of Klay’s were assisted, only 63% of Steph’s threes were. His ability to shoot off the dribble, creating his own shot, is not even close to paralleled by any other player.
In the 2017 playoffs, Steph Curry notably looked much healthier than he was the year before, and was dazzling throughout.
As an end note, I’d like to see Steve Kerr try a lineup consisting of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Nick Young, Omri Casspi, and Kevin Durant at least. Its collective shooting would be out of this world.