Anthony Davis isn't the only big man who suddenly learned how to hit 3-pointers
Many players say they're going to shoot more 3s, but these guys are actually backing up their talk
There are two media day staples entering every NBA season: Players are in the best shape of their lives and have been working on a 3-point shot. As the NBA further embraces the 3-pointer, it's not uncommon to hear traditional big men talk about expanding their game out to the perimeter.
It's one thing to say you're going to shoot 3-pointers, and it's another to actually go out there and do it. There are players entering this season shooting more 3-pointers than they ever have. Some of them have even turned the shot into a legitimate weapon rather than an empty threat.
(The best way to look at this is on a per 100-possession basis. Per-game numbers do a good job of showing a slight uptick in shooting, but the per 100 also helps differentiate between just a slight increase and an actual change in volume.)
Here is a look at several big men adding the 3-pointer to their arsenal:
Davis has been utilizing a 3-point shot for the last couple seasons. He averaged 2.5 attempts per 100 possessions two seasons ago and 2.4 in 2016-17. Him shooting from deep is no longer a surprise. What is a surprise early on is the clip he's making them at. Davis has turned his shot into an actual weapon.
Davis shot 32 percent from 3-point range two seasons ago and 29 percent last season. He was able to keep a defense honest, but most teams would live with him taking that shot. So far this season he's making 35 percent of his shots from deep, and he's shooting more of them. His 3.9 attempts per 100 with DeMarcus Cousins next to him is stretching defenses out as far as they can go.
A lot of the hype surrounding Davis has cooled off from what it once was, but he's still one of the best young bigs in the NBA and this season he's adding another weapon to his offensive game. Don't overlook The Brow.
The Magic are a surprise team early on and a lot of that has to do with their 3-point shooting. Orlando's running a new faster offense with a lot more spacing. Throw them on League Pass and the first difference viewers will notice is the placement of the bigs. Orlando frequently runs a five-out offense now. It can do this, because its bigs are bombing away from 3-point range.
Nikola Vucevic is shooting 6.6 per 100 shots from 3-point range so far this season and making 40 percent of them. Last season he shot 1.1 per 100 making 30 percent of them. Next to him, Aaron Gordon is shooting 6.5 3-pointers per 100 and making 57 percent of them. Last season, Gordon shot 27 percent on 5.7 3-pointers per 100. Is all of this going to regress at some point? Yes, these numbers are very unsustainable, but the regression isn't going to fall down to career averages. The offense is putting them into position to shoot and make more 3-pointers than ever.
The result has been a Magic offense that is blazing hot right now, and the shooting of Gordon and Vucevic has been a huge part of that. Orlando's offense just wouldn't be as effective if its starting center and power forward were shooting less from deep.
We all kinda chuckled when Dewyane Dedmon said he was going to shoot some 3-pointers this season. The rim-protecting big had attempted one in his entire career and he wasn't someone known for floating outside the paint.
Well, he sure shut everybody up in a hurry. The new Hawks center hasn't taken as many as some of the others on this list -- nine total for the entire season -- but it's stunning that he's taking any at all. He's made just three 3s through eight games, so it isn't a major weapon right now, but that he's willing to go out there and take them is a testament to his ability to adapt.
Veteran bigs adding a jump shot to their game late in a career is a story that's been told hundreds of times before. Still, it's weird to see Zach Randolph do it. The new Kings big has been a career bruiser in the paint, playing below the rim. Sometimes he'd float out to the mid-range, but he typically stayed within the arc.
Last season, Randolph started to experiment with a 3-point shot and took 2.7 of them per 100, but this season he's fully embraced it. He's taking 3.9 per 100 and making 36 percent of them. That's a good enough clip to make him an average outside threat. For a veteran big coming off the bench, that's really all the Kings need.
Whiteside is only on this list to point out that he's taken two 3-pointers and made both of them. The Heat's lanky center is shooting 100 percent from 3-point range in two games. Look out!
The Spurs big man might known best for his fadeaway long 2-ball, but Aldridge is shooting a surprising amount of 3-pointers this season. He's averaging 2.9 per 100 and making 37 percent of his attempts. This is something he's flashed before in his final year in Portland, but it didn't carry over to San Antonio.
Early in the season, Aldridge is exploring the perimeter game and making a good chunk of his shots. He's always been a talented big, but the inefficiency of long 2s has hampered him in today's NBA. San Antonio gave him an extension so it clearly believes in his ability, but he'll need to prove he's worth that money.
It will be interesting to see if Aldridge continues to fire from 3-point range or if he'll move back down below the arc once Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker return. Individually he's playing very well, but the San Antonio offense as a whole is struggling right now with him as the first option.
The Nets play fast and they chuck 3-pointers. That is their identity right now and it's given Mozgov a chance to do something he's always wanted: shoot some 3-pointers. Before this season, Mozgov had only taken more than nine 3-pointers once in a season. He shot 24 of them in the 2013-14 season and only made 16 percent of them.
This season, Mozgov has taken nine through eight games and made two of them. Mozgov was once a great rim protector and rim runner. He's not what he used to be, but if he can add a consistent 3-point shot then that might add some years to his career. Brooklyn is the perfect place for him to try it out.
The only players to show up on this list are bigs because most wings and guards who enter the NBA already shoot 3-pointers. With a few exceptions. Rubio has never been a great shooter, but his percentages behind the 3-point line have been dreadful. He's worked on it throughout his career, but his average is a lowly 31.8 percent.
This season, Rubio is shooting 37 percent on eight attempts per 100. This is a huge jump in his shooting numbers in not only attempts, but also makes. Rubio is freely launching from deep without fear and it's been a major positive for a struggling Jazz offense.
Like others, it's expected Rubio will have a regression of some kind, but what if he doesn't? Rubio with a 3-point shot would completely change the dynamic of his game, how teams guard him and how offenses use him.
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