Do Gordon Hayward and Dante Exum have to become elite shooters to become elite players?

Gordon Hayward is the leading scorer on the Jazz and is probably the best player on this Jazz team.

Dante Exum is our mysterious number five pick and many would say he has the best chance of becoming a superstar of anyone currently on the roster.

Hayward is a surprisingly average shooter.

Exum’s shooting is even more underwhelming.

And it doesn’t seem likely that either’s shot will change too dramatically.

Hayward is approaching his seventh season. He will probably reach the peak of his developmental progress soon.

He’s a career 36 percent shooter from behind the arc if you include his rookie year when he shot 47 percent from deep.

Maybe Hayward improves his shooting but he’s never going to be a Klay Thompson or even J.J. Redick type shooter.

Exum, on the other hand, is nearly 21 and is preparing for only his second season of NBA play. He’s young, inexperienced and as raw as frozen sushi.

I am optimistic that Exum’s development will go well and I think that Quin Snyder is the perfect coach to do it, but I can’t imagine a reality where he’ll become an elite shooter. Exum shot 31 percent from three in his rookie year and almost all of those shots were wide open. Maybe a Kawhiesque shot transformation is in Dante’s future but probably not.

Can Players be elite even if they don’t have an elite three-point shot?

We all know that three-point shooting is invaluable in the NBA and maybe it seems like our players can’t develop into stars without a killer three-point shot but is that really the case?

Admittedly, most of the best players and especially guards and wings can shoot threes. Kawhi is great, Durrant is great and Steph is straight unbelievable but not all stars are great three-point shooters.

Examples

Lebron James: 

Perhaps no aspect of Lebron’s game has been more criticized than his three-point shot. Throughout his career, Lebron has shot a mediocre 34 percent from three-point range and this year shot worse than Exum. 

Lebron is perhaps the most dominant player of our generation and he’s shot poorly behind the arc more often than he has shot well.

Lebron relies on his phenomenal athleticism and strength and is basketball savant.

Russell Westbrook:

Westbrook is a freak athlete who gets to the basket at will. He’ll outrun and outwork anyone, he is a devastating one-man fast break and a triple-double machine. When Durant went down last season Westbrook became a serious MVP contender.

Westbrook can certainly get hot behind the line but the numbers say he’s borderline bad at shooting. 

During the regular season, Westbrook shot just under 30 percent from three and his career average is just over 30 percent.

Demar DeRozen: 

DeRozen is not quite the star that Lebron or Westbrook are but he was an All-Star this season and his team made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

He’s long, a good athlete and a skilled basketball player but his jump shot leaves something to be desired. He shot a career-high 34 percent from three this year and is a career 28 percent three-point shooter.

I would argue that Hayward is already a better player than DeRozen and he’s unobjectively a better shooter.

John Wall:

It’s no secret that John Wall is not a good shooter but he is a three-time All-Star and is still widely considered the alpha dog on his team, even though Bradley Beal is becoming a star as well. 

Wall is one of the few players who could rival Westbrook in a footrace as well as one of the longest point guards in the league. He’s also a phenomenal passer and is becoming a great mid-range shooter.

This year Wall shot 35 percent from three and is a career 32 percent three-point shooter. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that John Wall’s full name is Johnathon Hildred Wall? 

Tony Parker: 

Parker is a four-time NBA champion and won the finals MVP in 2007.

He is known for being one of the quickest players in league and has an incredible feel for getting to the hoop and making mid-range shots. 

The last couple years Parker has been quite good from deep but he is only a 32 percent three-point shooter and has had some of his most productive NBA seasons during some of his worst three-point shooting years. 

Conclusion:

Hopefully, Hayward will become a better shooter and Dante almost certainly will, but I think we’re living in a fantasy land if we believe either will ever shoot above 40 percent from three in a season. I hope they prove me wrong but I don’t see it happening.

Maybe Exum Develops into a star and maybe Hayward becomes a better star but they don’t have to be elite shooters be great.

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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News