It is a difficult task to identify the best shooter in the NBA. If I had to name a few at the top of the list, I would go with Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Peja Stojakovic, Sam Cassell, Eric Piatkowski, Glen Rice, Pat Garrity, Michael Redd, Allan Houston, and Steve Nash.
They are all amazing shooters, but ranking them in order would be so difficult that it would make the BCS look like a fair, well-conceived plan to determine college football's champion. Since I can't come up with one guy who stands out above everyone else, I have decided to create my own perfect marksman, using the best qualities and characteristics from the most proficient shooters in the NBA. I call this creation "Roboshooter."
As a player, my most important shooting fundamental was balance. Without a good base, a shooter is apt to sway ever so slightly one way or another, leading to poor balance and inconsistent shooting.
Roboshooter will receive the balance of Miller. His balance is impeccable. He's not the strongest guy in the world, but his feet are always underneath his body when he shoots. It doesn't matter if he is shooting a free throw, pulling up from the three-point line or catching and shooting off of a teammate's screen. His balance is one of the reasons he has been so consistent throughout his career, and why he will go down as perhaps the greatest long-range shooter in NBA history.
The next item on the shooting checklist involves the placement of the ball in the shooter's hands. Ideally the basketball should rest softly in the fingertips and roll from his index and middle fingers upon release.
I have always marveled at the way the basketball leaves Rice's hands. He holds the ball gently yet firmly – as if he were holding a bird – and the ball rolls softly from his fingertips on release. Roboshooter will have his hands.
From the arms up, I don't think anyone looks better shooting the ball than Cassell. He has the perfect form and his release is picture perfect.
Cassell has been overlooked as a shooter for years. This may be because he has bounced around the league and been in the shadow of Allen. It may also be because his range is limited to 21 feet. Many people think a player needs three-point range to be considered a great shooter. But with the game on the line and an open 18 to 20-footer, I'll take Cassell. His perfect form will look great on Roboshooter.
One quality that a great shooter needs is the ability to knock down shots even when fatigued. The NBA game is long and physical, and a guy with great strength and stamina has a big advantage. He can run the lanes on the fast break, race around screens, play defense and still knock down a contested 25-footer late in the game.
In his prime, the late Drazen Petrovic was the best-conditioned shooter in the game. He was tireless, constantly working off screens and wearing out his opponents while draining shot after shot. The guy who comes closest to Petrovic these days is Stojakovic. He is big and strong, moves well without the ball and slingshots the rock through the net from anywhere at anytime. Roboshooter will have his leg strength.
Surfers will tell you that it's easier to ride a wave than to catch one. In the NBA it is simpler to make a shot than it is to get one. Defenders are bigger and stronger than ever, and scouting reports are very thorough. A stingy defense can make it very difficult for a good shooter to get a good look at the basket. Therefore, the best shooters not only need to make shots, but to know how to get open, with or without the ball.
Roboshooter will have Allen Iverson's speed, quickness and ball-handling ability in order to create a shot against a tough defender. It's amazing how often Iverson will have the ball with the shot clock winding down and a great defender on him and just make a dazzling one-on-one move to clear space for himself to shoot.
In order for my Roboshooter to get open away from the ball, we will give him one more of Miller's many talents. His use of screens, his ability to push, hold and grab jerseys has made him one of the best players in the NBA at simply getting open and taking a shot.
Michael Jordan used to say that defending Miller coming off a screen was like being in a chicken fight in a swimming pool. You're grabbing him, he is holding you, and all of a sudden he gives you a subtle shove and you are a split-second late chasing him around a screen.
There is one thing left to make our creation the perfect shooter. Even with the perfect fundamentals and skills, there is an intangible talent that makes a shooter special – fearlessness. A champion has to have the fortitude to shoot the ball with the game on the line, and face the consequences if the shot doesn't go in.
Everyone always remembers Jordan's game-winning shots, but few remember that he missed a lot of them too. The point was that he not only wanted to take the final shot, he needed to. His competitiveness was so fierce that nothing would stop him from doing whatever it took to win the game. And if he did miss the shot, he would never get down. He would simply pick himself up and jump at the chance to take the next game-winner.
Jordan's fearless nature is a quality that only a select few possess. Larry Bird had it. So did Magic Johnson. These days, the best clutch shooter is Kobe Bryant. As many clutch shooters as there are in this league – and there are a lot – Bryant stands out for his sheer arrogance and self-confidence. He wants that last shot, and his body language tells the world that he is going to make it. That is the attitude Roboshooter will have.
Our creation is done and we have finished making the ideal shooter. And by the way, Roboshooter can't play any defense. Because like Bill Murray said in Space Jam, Roboshooter "doesn't do defense." He just shoots.