JJ Redick stands for “Jumpshot Jealous Redick,” right? We can’t all be Steph Curry, but at least we can revel in that seductive stroke.
I love basketball. I love it so much.
I miss running around, getting sweaty in a confined space with other people and we’re all breathing all over one another. What I miss the most about playing basketball is shooting.
I’ve been a shooter much of my basketball career. It may shock some of you, but I am an unathletic white man. I shoot and I try really really hard on defense. (I also love to pass, but that’s too many threads in one piece.) Oh and block shots. I love that too. (OK, I really miss basketball.)
I enjoy shooting so much that in elementary school, I even tried to do a science project to analyze the arc of a ball on a jump shot. My hypothesis was that the higher the arc on the ball, the better chance it had of going in the hoop. My studies did not show this, but that is because I was a bad scientist. I rolled a ball towards a hoop at different angles. Without any measure of force, of course the flattest angle would just drop the ball in. I was not smart. To be fair, I did have a sick bowl cut.
Back on track. I love to shoot. I have sloppy mechanics and that make me streaky. When I am on and I’m feeling it, there is no feeling like it. Maybe flying or whatever. With such a proclivity, I am drawn to watch shooters when I’m watching hoops. There are some players that really make me Hulk out with jealousy. (Calm down, nerds, I know he is fueled by anger. ) Calm down parentheses nerds, I’m sure I’m doing it wrong. Watching these guys shoot is like watching Miles flow or Christian Bale act, until he yells at you for getting in his eye line. True artistry. So I compiled a list of the jump shots that make me jealous. That is why I titled the piece that way too. Now, I am including players whom I have watched a lot of and that overlap with my adult analytical life. This is not a list of the best jump shooters of all-time. This is the list of guys who’s blueprint I wish I could steal.
Here’s the list in chronological order of my interest:
If you have read anything I’ve written, you had to know I would be forcing a Florida Gator onto this list. Real deep cut, I should have chosen Brett Nelson. I want this to be a relatable list, however, so I’m going with Mike Miller. Even as a young player, MM had an older man’s jump shot. He had a stoop to his posture and slight pause after raising the ball. I imagine that is what I look like since I have never stood up straight in my life. Thus, the jealousy. Miller was a dead eye shooter. He could do a lot of different things as a basketball player, but as he aged, he became that floor spacer the Miami Heat needed to win their titles in 2013 and 2014. I like that his shot had small idiosyncrasies, clearly born of shooting for hours on the frozen ground of South Dakota.
Perfection. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I picture the Patron saint of the J. Every hair on his jumpshot was so well orchestrated that he had to be bald. His consistent elevation and his lightning release were iconic. His body was always balanced and straight up-and-down. His jump was the same height, his eyes found the rim the same way. And that release. Oh that release. A perfect Harry-Potter-wand flick. Allen had a dip in his shot where he lowered the ball a fraction of a second before his jump. I believe this helps with his balance and transfer of energy, keeping his motion consistent. It’s like he’s loading a gun. Hard to believe that he only took an average of 8 threes a game when he was 30-years-old. If young Ray entered the league now, he’d hit that mark right away. It is incredible how he was able to replicate his form in most situations. He had incredible muscle memory built-in. I have the muscle memory of the guy from Memento so I’m jealous. And of course this:
You know I love the Big German. His locks, his accent, I love it all. He is a giant man who rebelled against the conventional lot of the giant man in basketball. While every current big man wants to step back and let it fly, back in 1999 this was a complete anomaly. I loved his gangly limbs going everywhere until he rose up. Maybe “rose up” is hyperbolic as he was never a big leaper. He used every other trick to get himself space. He would create contact with the defender, use a mix up pump fakes and spins, and then use his greatest advantage–his height–to get the ball in the air. The ball would go over his head, elbow out straight, and his release was like a trebuchet launch. His arch, created by that release, was always so impressive. His touch was so soft. His touch on the basketball court was soft too. His fadeaway became so iconic, the Mavs have it painted on their court. I miss you, Dirk.
I assume his name stands for Jumpshot Jealous Redick because that is what he makes me feel. Full disclosure, I don’t actually know what those letters represent. Jonathan? Is his name Jonathan Jonathan Redick? Whatever we call him, his form is impeccable. I was not a Redick fan as I am a total Duke hater. But once those players get to the pros, I no longer care. I was then able to really appreciate the craft of this man. His footwork and upper body control are picture perfect. It seems like he’s using a stencil to draw his form no matter if it’s coming off screens or catch and shoot. Look at his off hand, also known as the guide hand. He doesn’t let it affect the trajectory of the ball. It stabilizes the shot and then just stays there like he’s being left hanging on a high five, which I imagine happened to him a lot as a kid. I’m kidding I am a big fan now! His podcast is fantastic, but it’s his form I truly envy.
He’s so smooooooooooth. Now, it was tough for me to figure out which Splash Brother I envied more when it comes to his shot. I love Klay Thompson’s form and it is damn near perfect. However, this is not a piece just on good shooters, it’s about desire. I crave the ability to shoot like Steph. His process rips this longing from my gut. Like I said, he’s so smooth. He is also a little unorthodox, which I love. The fluidity of Steph comes from his form being what is called a one motion shot. It does not have the distinct steps to it that others might. When he jumps, the ball goes up too. He releases from slightly in front of his head. That happens to be how I shoot. Yes, a million times better—but again, green rage monster here. The fluidity of his form ends in that picture perfect release. It is always the same in all situations: coming off screens, catch and shoot, or off the dribble. The speed and range of his jumper also stem from this style as he gathers his energy in one move. This helps him get off his shot quickly, which is important when one is undersized. That also happens to be the final nail in my jealousy coffin. Pre-pandemic we were similarly sized.
That wraps up my list of jumpers I would steal with the ball from Space Jam.
Just to add a little more flavor, I want to include a couple of guys at the other end of the spectrum. The list of guys who’s shots I would return to the store before taking them out of the package:
Another Gator on the list! I loved Noah’s passion and energy. He was a defensive ace and a fantastic teammate. He was a highly skilled player as evidenced by his underrated passing. That did not include his jump shot though. His form looks like he’s making a freaking pizza.
Shawn shot 33% for his career from three point range. His jumper was u-g-l-y, yet it always seemed to go in more than I expected. He brought dozens of skills to the table and was a two way player ahead of his time in many respects. Aesthetics was not one of those. His shot looked like he was wringing out a towel.
I cannot wait to get back out on the court in 2025 when this whole pandemic thing blows over. I will no longer be able to hit the broad side of Shaq’s butt. But the folks on this list will be able to shoot from a wheelchair as they age. I am jealous of that skill. Again, I titled the piece very intentionally. Who are the past or present jump shots that you like? Hit us up on social media. And as always, have a great day.