Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has started the 2021 season on an absolute tear. Where does the 29-year-old rank amongst the NBA’s best shooters?
CJ McCollum has been in the conversation around the league’s best shooters for a while now. The Portland Trail Blazers guard has consistently been one of the best mid-range and three-point shooters since he entered the league. As a mid-range specialist and tough shot maker, he is one of the most versatile three-level scores playing today. In a recent ESPN graphic, McCollum actually leads the entire league in scoring from one part of the floor.
To break down the league’s best shooters, you need to understand the difference between high and low volume guys, and then see that these players can make shots from mid-range, from three, and from the line.
At 29, McCollum is at his peak. Where does he rank amongst the NBA’s best shooters?
Shooter #10 – Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks is one of the purest bucket gutters in the entire league.
At six-foot-seven, playing the small forward position, Middleton has a three-level game that involves off the dribble jumpers and a catch and shoot game that has benefitted heavily from Bucks teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Middleton was a strong shooter earlier in his career, but he has gotten even better over the last few years. He has twice hit the magical 50 percent from the mid-range mark, while also hitting 90 percent from the free-throw line in the 2020 season.
What puts Middleton on this list ahead of other low volume guys in JJ Redick and Joe Harris, is his 20 point per game average over the last three and a bit years. Being able to average these types of numbers on significant volume separates him from the lower volume players.
Middleton hasn’t had the playoff success efficiency-wise, so that’s why he sits at number nine.
Mid-range – 45.2 percent
Three pointer Percentage – 39.4 percent
Free Throw Percentage – 87.8 percent
True Shooting Percentage – 57.3 percent
Shooter #9 – Paul George
Paul George of the LA Clippers isn’t universally recognized as a great shooter, but he has two elite skills in that regard. He is one of the best free-throw shooters in the game, and one of the best high volume shooters.
George is a tough shot maker who can come off screens at six-foot-eight, can hit shots off the dribble, and can hit off the catch from any part of the court.
Though he isn’t strong from the mid-range, George generates most of his efficiency from a career -rate of 6.4 attempts a game from three.
He is an elite shooter who has yet to show his best in the playoffs. But, he is still only 30, so has time to prove himself yet.
Mid-range – 39 percent
Three pointer Percentage – 34.4 percent
Free Throw Percentage – 84.7 percent
True Shooting Percentage – 56.8 percent
Shooter #8 – CJ McCollum
CJ McCollum sits on the top ten’s edge, as one of the league’s best shot creators. McCollum uses off the dribble shots from both the mid-range and three with an elite combination of dribble moves. He makes Kobe Bryant-like threes while off balance or on the run.
McCollum is one of the best tough shot makers in the league: many of his shots have a high degree of difficulty. As a free throw shooter, his numbers have been up and down through his career, but he is still above the magic 80 percent number from that distance.
McCollum is a three-level shooter who may only just be hitting his peak now. Though he has an injury at the moment which forces him to miss a month of action, he leads the league in made threes at the time of publishing of this piece.