The Decade’s Best Shooter weighs in on the decade’s best shooter.
by Aaron Kaplowitz
Labeling Ray Allen as the Top Shooter of the Decade launched a healthy debate about his merits compared to some of the League’s other top snipers. After receiving a fair share of praise and condemnation for my decision, I did what any of us would have done and asked Allen to weigh in. He offered a surprising answer and waxed philosophical on what it takes and what it means to be a shooter. Below is an excerpt from our conversation.
SLAM: Who do you consider the best shooter this decade?
Ray Allen: The best shooter this decade? Dirk.
RA: There’s always a separation in this league of shooters and scorers. He’s been a guy that can score, he’s scored a lot of points, but at the same time he’s shooting from all over the floor, from three to mid-range. He doesn’t get a lot of layups, but he creates a big matchup (problem). He’s been having big games for his franchise over the last ten years.
SLAM: Would you consider yourself more of a shooter or scorer?
RA: Me personally, I would categorize myself more as a scorer. I think my shooting is a weapon, but I have always been known for scoring.
SLAM: Would you say you establish your outside game first and use that to take advantage of overzealous defenders and get to the hole, or vice versa?
RA: I think early on it was to the basket and then shooting the ball. Now people think I’m a shooter and then I can get to hole. You know the mid-range is probably the most important shot nowadays.
SLAM: Do you have to be a prolific three-point shooter to be part of this discussion? Can a guy like Rip Hamilton, who doesn’t attempt many threes be considered?
RA: Yeah I think ultimately you have to be able to shoot the three ball, because being a great shooter means you could put the ball in from all over the floor. I think he can hit the three but I just don’t think he takes a lot of them.
SLAM: Who has the best form? It would be hard to give that to Dirk…
RA: I wouldn’t say that he has great form. I learned a long time ago, even before I got to the NBA that there are guys that have great form but don’t work at shooting. Shooting is hard work. The only time I’ll say if a guy has great form is if I see him making it over and over again, you kind of see why he’s making it because he has pretty good form. But you look at some of the weird looking jumpshots in the League today and in the history of the League, guys know how to make shots because they work on it
SLAM: So if a guy like Bill Cartwright hit every shot he’d be a great shooter?
RA: Mmm-hmmm. Yep. Great shooting has to do with hitting shots in big games, playoff games, 4th quarter — that’s where you get labeled as a great shooter.