Debuting the first All-SMH Team
Rex on the best shooters that make him ‘Shake My Head’
No, I didn’t see you. Were you sitting on the rim?
That's a playful little response I gave to many a teammate over the years as we transitioned from offense to defense or during timeouts after I had let fly a jump-shot -- only to have a teammate shrug his shoulders and say to me, “Hey Dawg, I was open. Didn’t you see me?"
Naturally I was implying by my response to him: “Hey, my eyes are fixated on that basket most of the time when I have the ball, and unless you were perched atop the rim then NO, I did not see you!”
The retort was usually good for a brief moment of levity in an otherwise hard fought game. Give it a shot in your next rec-league game. It’s friendlier than “shut-up,” but serves just about the same purpose.
While on the topic of letting jump-shots fly, I’m going to put out my “All-SMH Team." For those of you who live in a cave, “SMH” is internet/text message slang which means “shake my head." I decided to call this team of the best shooters we have in the college game today the All-SMH Team because when you watch these guys shoot the basketball, you’re tempted to shake your head from side-to-side in amazement at just how pure each of these guys jump-shots are. I also chose to go with the SMH theme because if any of the guys on this list catches the ball behind the 3-point line and has an open look at the basket with his team trailing by one or two in the waning seconds of a ballgame, then the opposing coach may as well just shake his head, not even watch and begin walking right to the locker room. The chances are that the shooters on this list today will knock down that open look. These young men can flat shoot the basketball.
|*Stats entering Jan. 23|
I nearly called this team the “Cashmere Squad” after Cincinnati bomber Cashmere Wright, as the word “cashmere” is a near perfect description of how soft the guys who’ve made this team shoot the basketball. All of these players have feathery soft strokes. But alas, Cashmere Wright just missed making my January edition of the 2012-13 top-shooters in the college game.
Before releasing the names on the All-SMH Team I want to go back -- way back.
Prior to the 1986-87 season the NCAA implemented the 3-point shot into the college basketball game. Coincidentally, that season was my freshman year in college at Kentucky. When I heard that the 3-point line was coming to college basketball for my freshman year I thought I was being punked. But I wasn’t. A game where I had previously tallied 18 points were now 21 or 22-point games. It was like taking candy from a baby. Free points.
Things change over time, and the 3-point shot in college basketball is no different. The effect the shot has had on the game has been great. Some would argue that the 3-point shot has added excitement and can’t imagine what the game would be like without long-range bombs that award three points instead of two. While others firmly believe that the shot has been a detriment to the game of basketball which has led to worse shooting by players across the board and a game that has lost what once was a staple of the game of basketball -- the art of the mid-range jump shot. I personally can see both sides of the argument. I do firmly believe that the 3-point shot has no business in junior high or high school basketball. Young kids heaving 3-pointers at the basket before they are strong enough to do so with proper form is extremely detrimental to their growth as players. We, far and away, have more players playing the game today with funky, jacked-up jump shots than ever before. But I digress. That’s a conversation for another column.
I absolutely believe that prior to the 3-pointer being implemented in 1986 -- from player 1 to player 15 -- teams had better shooters across the board than we have playing the game today. Prior to 1986, small forwards and power forwards on most teams could step away from the basket and knock down 15-footers. Heck, they were expected to do so. Guys on your team would laugh at you if you couldn’t bank in a 12 to 15 footer regularly.
Now, what we have today, for the most part, are teams who have one or two guys who can shoot the ball from the perimeter -- and that’s it. The rest of the guys in the rotation are guys who know that if they aren’t in "gimmie” range then they need to look to swing the ball or kick the ball back out to a “shooter."
An area, however, where players today are largely better than the players playing 20-30 years ago is the “best shooter” category. Meaning today’s best shooter on a team is likely a much better shooter, percentage-wise, than the best shooter of yesteryear. Today, we have a handful of players who are shooting greater than 50-percent from the 3-point line. That’s comical. When I say it out loud it makes me snicker and shake my head. Shooting the ball from 20-feet and 9-inches away from the rim, while being defended, at a better than 50-percent clip is crazy good. We just didn’t, couldn’t shoot the ball that well 25 years ago. I was considered a pretty good shooter in 1986-87 and I shot a whopping 38-percent during that initial year of The Trey -- a percentage that pales in comparison to the elite shooters of 2012-13.
It always makes me laugh when I sit, watching ballgames with fans and inevitably hear someone say, after a kid on their favorite team misses a jumpshot, “Oh, COME ON, I could have made THAT shot, for crying out loud!” I always respond to that person, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve seen a lot of great shooters at the carnival," meaning that it takes a lot more than just standing in the driveway and making a jumper with nobody watching. Try getting open while being chased and hounded by an elite athlete. And then also consider the sacrifice, conditioning, weight-training, commitment, school work, and practice that it took for the kid who just missed that shot in front of 18,000 screaming fans in a pressure-packed national TV game. Like I said, I’ve seen a lot of great shooters at the carnival.
The fun thing about writing your own column and naming your first All-SMH Team is that I also get to make up the qualifications. We’re going by the numbers here. BUT, in order to qualify, a player’s team must be currently ranked in the top 25 and he must currently be ranked in the top-50 in 3-point shooting percentage.
Congrats, guys. Keep lettin’ it fly!
Lastly -- Duke, are you kidding me? SMH.
Rex Chapman played at Kentucky from 1986-88. He was a two-time All-SEC selection as well as an NABC All-American in 1988 before opting for the NBA Draft. He was the No. 1 choice -- eighth overall -- of Charlotte and played for the Hornets (1988-92), Washington Bullets (1992-95), Miami Heat (1995-96) and Phoenix Suns (1996-2000). Follow Rex on Twitter @rexchapman.