Addressing a need: reliable shooters


One of the more glaring areas of concern for the San Antonio Spurs is having reliable shooters on the team to spread the floor.  This was exposed during the playoffs. Especially in the series against the Phoenix Suns.

You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “We have Matt Bonner and Roger Mason.” Well there is your problem. Bonner and Mason have been “no shows” when it really matters — the playoffs.

Bonner, for as much as he has great games during the regular season, when it has come to the playoffs, he tends to be a non-factor. In the 2008-2009 playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks and even in this past playoff run against the Mavericks and Suns, Bonner was a “no-show.” Though I will give him his due.  He did have two good games against the Suns in game two and three contributing 14 and 11 points.

Still, his stats show a drop off. Take this season for example. During the regular season, Bonner shot 44% from the floor and 39% from the three-point line. Come playoff time, his percentages dropped to 43% from inside the arch and 37% from the three-point line. This resulted in five points per game in the playoffs as opposed to the seven points he averaged in the regular season. His career playoff averages are 36%  from the field and 31% from the three-point line.

You might think it’s not that much of a drop off but this is the playoffs! Every player has to step it up.  And with Bonner’s reputation as a “reliable” shooter, the Spurs sure could have used a bit more consistency from him in this season’s playoffs.

Mason on the other hand, well, all season long he demanded to be traded, wanted more minutes, and just wasn’t the “Mason” Spurs fans saw last season.  His shooting touch was, in a word, unreliable. In his first season with the Spurs he shot 42% and this season he dropped to 38%. From the three-point line, last season he shot 42% and this past season he shot 33%. During this past playoff run, he averaged 0.5 points. For his playoff career, he has averaged 36% from the field and 31% from behind the arch.  Granted his minutes were down this season but when given time on the floor, he did not make a strong case for continued minutes. Mason, who was a complete non-factor for the 2009-2010 season, will more than likely not be in a Spurs uniform next season.

Bottom line, these two players were not reliable when the Spurs needed them and with both being free-agents, why not look at three available free agents in this summer’s crop who are reliable shooters.

Jason Kapono, Philadelphia 76ers. Though he has a player option, Kapono is a deadly shooter especially when it comes to the three-point shot. He averaged 36% from the three-line and 41% from the floor last season. His career playoff shooting averages are 55% from the field and 53% from the three-point line.

Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz. Known for his outside shooting touch, Korver can definitely hit a timely shot form the floor when needed. Ask the Los Angeles Lakers in their series match-up with the Jazz.  For his playoff career, he has averaged 42% from the field and 36% from the three-point line.

Eddie House, New York Knicks. Put the ball in his hands and he will be ready to knock down the shot. For his playoff career, House has averaged 40% from the field and 38% from the three-point line.

Expect the Spurs will be financially conscious as they tweak the team this off-season. Also, chances of them getting players like Korver or Kapono are low (mainly because of financial reasons) but if they intend to make another push for a title, why not find a shooter who might not pull a disappearing act in the playoffs.

The Spurs will probably resign Bonner but with the above mentioned free-agents available, and if the team is willing to remain over the salary-cap, the Spurs should at least entertain the thought of finding better and more reliable shooters.