If anyone knows the ins and outs of what it takes to be an adept spot-up shooter, it’s Stephen Curry. With Curry, spot-up shooting is sort of a family affair.
After all, Curry’s dad, Dell, finished his 16-year NBA career in 2002 as a career 40.2 percent shooter from 3-point range. And it’s safe to say that the lion’s share of Dell Curry’s baskets resulted from his being one of the game’s best spot-up shooters.
Stephen Curry’s younger brother, Seth, also has done his share of being a terrific spot-up shooter. Seth Curry played college ball at Duke and is averaging 25.1 points and shooting a red-hot 51.1 percent from 3-point range for the Erie BayHawks, the affiliate of the Orlando Magic in the NBA Development League.
An All-Star guard for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry is among the NBA’s best spot-up shooters. Yet he had a difficult time determining if he’s the best shooter in his own family.
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“In the family it rotates because my pops can still shoot and my brother obviously has got some talent, too,” said Stephen Curry, who averages 23.2 points per game this season. “So we have some good H-O-R-S-E games that can go forever.
“I won the last one, so I own the crown right now.”
A spot-up shooter is a player who runs to a spot on the floor, catches the ball and shoots quickly.
Former NBA players who were among the best at the art include Reggie Miller, Dell Curry, Robert Horry, Steve Kerr, Chris Mullin and Allan Houston.
Some of the best in the game today are Kyle Korver, Danny Green, J.J. Redick, Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee, Ray Allen, Channing Frye, Curry and Klay Thompson.
So what skills does it take to be a quality spot-up shooter?
The list ranges from having the confidence to knock down the shot, to staying focused, moving well without the ball, being ready when receiving the ball with the feet set, and employing the same form over and over again.
“It’s a lot easier to hit spot-up shots than it is to shoot off the dribble because you use less energy and you can kind of find the openings, the gaps in the defense,” said Kerr, a five-time All-Star. “The hardest part for me as a shooter was not shooting a ton, but by getting four or five shots per game, and trying not to put too much pressure on each shot when you don’t shoot a lot.”
Relax, less thinking about the shot and shooting in rhythm also are keys in spot-up shooting.
“You’ve got to work hard at your craft and your ability to make shots, and then it comes down to the quality of the looks,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “If you’re getting open looks with no defense because the defense has been broken down, you’re going to have a lot better chance to make it than if you’re getting contested and run at.”
On a daily basis, Curry gets to see someone close to him — other than just his family members — spot up and knock down shots in teammate Thompson. Like the Curry family, Thompson, who averages 21.9 points, has that innate ability to spot up and make one jumper after another in one fluid motion.
“I kind of had a natural ability to shoot since the fourth grade,” Thompson said. “It was something I just really practiced, because I just love to shoot.
“It doesn’t even feel like practice to me — it’s just fun to go out there and put up shots. I watched a lot of great two-guards in the league and wanted to be like them all, especially the guys who can really move without the ball and play efficiently just off movement.”
Mavericks guard J.J. Barea has a simple strategy when he’s spotting up to take a shot.
“First of all you’ve got to have a lot of reps in practice and you’ve got to have that confidence,” Barea said. “You’ve got to want the ball, be waiting for the ball, and you’re going to attack the ball and be ready to shoot every time you’re open.”
Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons uses a similar premise when he’s preparing for a spot-up shot.
“You want to be ready and you want to be aggressive,” Parsons said. “Half the shot is the preparation before — stepping into it, having your legs bent, being shot-ready.
“You can’t stand up straight and just catch the ball and shoot it. It’s a process and you have to go through that process.”
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Past best spot-up shooters
Dell Curry: Could make a shot from anywhere while playing 10 of his 16 years with Charlotte.
Robert Horry: Big Shot Bob won three of his seven titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Steve Kerr: Provided a lot of dagger shots while winning three of his five titles with Chicago.
Reggie Miller: It was good when the crafty and brash shooter let it go during 18 years in Indiana.
Chris Mullin: Left-handed sharpshooter played most of his career with Golden State.
Today’s best spot-up shooters
Ray Allen*: Although not retired, he left his mark around the league, particularly with Boston and Miami.
Stephen Curry: Big scorer with Golden State is perhaps the model of today’s spot-up shooter.
Danny Green: He gives a lot of bang on limited shots for reigning champion San Antonio.
Kyle Korver: Atlanta forward holds the NBA record for highest 3-point field-goal percentage in a season at 53.6 percent.
Klay Thompson: Teammate of Stephen Curry in Golden State who gives pause to opposing defenses.
*Allen is out of the league, but not retired.