Shooting continues to be a focus of modern NBA basketball and with teams always looking to upgrade their efficiency from deep, it's certain to be a desired skill set in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Whether it's a sniper to run off pin-down screens for instant offence or a floor spacer to surround a star player, these are the types of players worth keeping an eye out for on draft night.
Here are the five best shooters in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Forward, 6-foot-7, 220 lbs.
In the most prototypical sense of a catch-and-shoot player, Kispert might be the best pure shooter in the draft.
Playing at Gonzaga around a host of elite talent and future NBA players, he knows what it's like to create space for teammates with his shooting gravity. For that reason, his transition to the NBA should be seamless.
Just finishing up his senior season, he's physically and mentally mature and he has proven his consistency from deep over the last two years - the time since the NCAA moved the 3-point line further back. In those two seasons, with a further 3-point line, Kispert hit 43.8 percent from three as a junior and 44.0 percent as a senior, all on over five attempts per game, so you can pencil him in as an elite shooter for whichever NBA team that lands him. Kispert's form is immaculate and at 220 pounds, he's got a strong lower body which allows him to pull effortlessly from range. With his accuracy and size, Kispert is looking like an easy first-round pick for a team looking to land arguably the best true catch-and-shoot player in the draft.
Chris Duarte, Oregon
Guard, 6-foot-6, 190 lbs.
When you think of players that can fly off of a ball screen, stop on a dime and pull up off the dribble from 3, you're often envisioning smaller guards. Duarte, on the other hand, brings that same electricity off the bounce for someone who's 6-foot-6.
The Canadian guard shot an impressive 42.4 percent on 3s last year, but what is even more impressive is that over half of his attempts came off the dribble and on those shots, he hit 44.4 percent (via Synergy). At 6-foot-6, those attempts off the bounce were tough for smaller guards to contest, particularly given the physicality that Duarte plays with. You'd see him create space for a jumper, not just with dribble moves and stepbacks, but with combinations that started with him jab stepping at a defender and using his strength to bounce his opponent off him, giving him the space to launch.
Oregon also liked to run Duarte off of screens, something you see more in the NBA than the college game, so there are multiple avenues where you can see the 23-year-old getting his shots from and how he can thrive in those situations.
Davion Mitchell, Baylor
Guard, 6-foot-2, 205 lbs.
Mitchell has been rocketing up draft boards since his tremendous NCAA Tournament run with Baylor and one of the reasons he projects so well to the NBA game is his ability to connect from range. Hitting a remarkable 44.7 percent of his 3s last season, he was a threat the moment he crossed half-court and that set up a lot of what the Bears wanted to do offensively.
One skill that Mitchell does better than any other shooter on this list is shoot on the fast break. His tight handle and speed allowed him to get to open space in transition and his low centre of gravity and compact shooting stroke is perfect for a quick release before the defence is set. More and more you're seeing teams look to get shots in early offence before defences can get set up and players like Mitchell are perfect in those offensive schemes. Some shorter players can struggle to get their shots off in an NBA setting but Mitchell's ability to hunt shots on the break should allow him to transition well to the next level.
Tre Mann, Florida
Guard, 6-foot-5, 190 lbs.
Late game. Shot clock winding down. One on one. In these high-stress moments at the end of games, what kind of shot are you most likely to see? The step back.
This shot has taken over basketball, the quintessential scoring move for every guard looking to bury their opponent in the final moments of the game. The best player in the draft at this move? Tre Mann.
There is a smoothness to the way Mann plays the game as if he's gliding across the hardwood, and when it comes to creating space for a step back, he can lull defenders to sleep before exploding off his front foot, getting into his shooting motion and drilling it. Mann hit 41 percent of his step back jumpers last season (via InStat) which speaks to his touch from the outside. Overall, Mann hit 40.2 percent of his 3s last season and the high degree of difficulty for the majority of his attempts makes this percentage admirable. NBA teams who are looking for guards that can create their own shots will love what they see from Mann.
Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton
Guard, 6-foot-2, 180 lbs.
For NBA role players, when it comes to shooting, it's all about consistency. Making sure your star teammates and coaches alike have faith that the player can convert when an open shot is created for them. For Zegarowski, consistency is no problem at all.
In three seasons at Creighton, he hit 42.6 percent, 42.4 percent and 42.1 percent from 3, while increasing his attempts per game from 4.4, to 5.7, to 6.6, respectively, all while maintaining the same level of efficiency. After three seasons of dead-eye shooting, teams can be pretty comfortable in his ability to shoot the rock with consistency and that's something that makes him a projectable guard off of an NBA bench.
Like many modern guards, many of Zegarowski's shots came off the dribble. He can sit way behind screens with seemingly unlimited range to get his shots off and he loves to get going downhill before coming to a halt and using his pull-up game. Something you see in Creighton's offence that you see all the time in NBA offences is the use of dribble-handoff plays for guards, and that is an area where Zegarowski excelled. His advanced footwork and balance allowed him to curl around screens before receiving the hand off, spin to get himself centered on the rim and then fire. Watching how Zegarowski got his shots at Creighton is easily translatable to the NBA and his efficiency at those types of looks makes him one of the best shooters in the draft.
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