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Free Agency 2019

NBA Free Agency 2019: Who are the best shooters?

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Danny Green and JJ Redick are two of the best available shooters (NBA Getty Images)

A number of shooters will become available when free agency begins on July 1, but which ones are the best of the best?

It's a tricky question to answer because there are different levels to being a shooter in today's NBA. At the top of the free agency list are players like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant, primary creators who can score in every way imaginable. A little further down are the likes of Khris Middleton and Bojan Bogdanovic, secondary or tertiary options who can play with and without the ball in their hands.

For the sake of this article, we're focused on the tier below the Middletons and Bogdanovics - think specialists - because more teams will have the cap space to sign them.

With that in mind, here are six of the best shooters in the 2019 free agency class. All of them are unrestricted free agents.

Brook Lopez, C

It's incredible how much Lopez's game has changed in the last few seasons.

Once more of a traditional back-to-the-basket big man, Lopez is coming off of a season in which he set the NBA record for 3-pointers made by a center. More than half of his shot attempts came from the 3-point line and he made 35.7% of those opportunities, a solid rate for a player his size.

There are a number of centres who can step out to the perimeter in today's NBA - Al Horford, Marc Gasol and Nikola Jokic to make a few - and yet none of them shoot 3-pointers at the same volume as Lopez.

Lopez is even comfortable shooting off the dribble. While it's not something he does often, it further separates him from other centres.

To go along with that shooting, Lopez is one of the league's premier rim protectors. He finished behind only Myles Turner, Mitchell Robinson, Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert in blocks per game this season season while holding opponents to a Joel Embiid-like 51.1% shooting in the paint.

The Milwaukee Bucks were able to sign Lopez last offseason to a one-year, $3.4 million contract. After the season he's had, he's likely going to be much more expensive this offseason, possibly commanding as much as double figures annually.

Danny Green, SG

Like Lopez, Green had a career year shooting the ball in 2018-19.

In his first season with the Toronto Raptors, he made 45.5% of his 3-point opportunities, the second-highest clip in the entire league behind only Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets.

Green also developed into one of the NBA's best transition scorers in Toronto. He almost never brought the ball up the court or finished at the rim, but he turned himself into the perfect safety valve for Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam by running the floor and making himself available for kick outs when teams collapsed on their drives.

Even though he provides little outside of 3-point shooting on offence, the Raptors saw their offensive rating improved by 14.2 points per 100 possessions with Green on the floor. The only other players with that large of a differential were MVP candidates, such as Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant.

One of the league's best perimeter defenders, Green made a similar impact on the other end of the floor. He came close to making an All-Defensive Team for the second time in his career this season, as he received the most votes of players who didn't make it.

With the demand for 3-and-D players far outnumbering the supply, Green is expected to be a popular name this summer. He made $10 million with the Raptors this season.

JJ Redick, SG

Redick can spot up with the best of them, but he is far more than a standstill shooter.

According to NBA.com , Redick led the league in scoring off of handoffs by a massive margin this season. (He scored a total of 435 points on those plays. Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets scored the second-most with 211 points). Redick was among the league leaders in scoring off of screens as well, doing so at a rate of 1.09 points per possession, which ranked him in the 81st percentile.

The combination makes him a more dynamic shooter than other players on this list. Not only can he punish teams for leaving him open, Redick is constantly on the move, making him someone opponents have to account for at all times.

If they don't, he'll curl his way into a wide open jump shot, either from the 3-point line or midrange.

Redick has gravity, too.

With the little room he needs to get his shot off, it isn't rare to see Redick draw the attention of multiple defenders when he's flying off of a screen at full speed, in a way that frees his teammates up for high percentage looks.

Redick is on the older side at 34-years-old, but he averaged a career-best 18.1 points per game and made the seventh-most 3-pointers in the league this season. His game should continue to age well, at least on the offensive end of the court.

Redick signed one year deals with the Philadelphia 76ers in back-to-back offseasons. He made $23 million in 2017-18 and $12.3 million in 2018-19.

Terrence Ross, SG/SF

Ross came close to breaking Wayne Ellington's record for 3-pointers made by a reserve this season. He made history in a different way, though, by becoming the first player ever to make 200 3-pointers in a season without starting a single game.

It led to Ross averaging a career-best 15.1 points per game. The only reserves to pour in more points on a nightly basis this season were Lou Williams, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jordan Clarkson and Montrezl Harrell.

Ross is more of the ilk of Redick, in that he never stops moving and he's not afraid to put the ball on the floor when defenders run him off the 3-point line. Only four players scored more points off of screens, and Ross drilled 38.4% of his pull-up 3-point attempts and 41.4% of his pull-up 2-point attempts.

It helps that Ross is 6-foot-7, because it gives him the size to shoot over most perimeter defenders. He also has the athleticism to finish strong at the basket.

The biggest concern with Ross? This season was his best season yet. It's possible it's a sign of things to come, but he wouldn't be the first person to have a career season fall on a contract year.

Additionally, Ross handles the ball more than anyone else on this list while creating little offence for others. Of the 132 players who had a usage rate of 20% or greater this season, Ross ranked 106th with an assist percentage of 12.3%.

Even so, Ross is one of the more explosive scorers in this free agency class. He will likely garner a lot of interest from teams looking for scoring and shooting.

Ross made $10.5 million with the Orlando Magic this season.

Seth Curry, PG/SG

When it comes to the art of catching-and-shooting a basketball, few are as accurate as Curry.

According to NBA.com , Curry made 49.7% of his catch-and-shoot attempts from the 3-point line this season. Three players made those opportunities at a higher rate, although those players either barely played (Alex Caruso) or rarely stepped behind the perimeter (Willie Cauley-Stein and Domantas Sabonis).

Standing at 6-foot-2, it was once believed that Curry's best path towards having a career in the NBA was to become a point guard, but he was primarily a shooting guard this season with the Portland Trail Blazers. That freed him up to do what he does best - look for his own shot, mostly by spotting up and running off of screens.

Curry has come off the bench for most of his career, so he might not be the answer for teams looking for a starting guard, as he does lack the vision to be a full-time one and the size to be a full-time two. But as a backup who can punish opponents for helping off of him, he would be a welcomed addition to any team looking to fill out its second unit.

After missing all of the 2017-18 season with a leg injury, Curry made $2.8 million with the Portland Trail Blazers this season.

Nikola Mirotic, PF

Last but not least, Mirotic is perhaps the stretchiest of stretch fours available on the free agent market this offseason.

Mirotic split the 2018-19 season playing for the New Orleans Pelicans and Bucks. He shot 6.9 3-pointers per game with the two teams, which was the fifth-highest rate at the forward position, behind Paul George, Luka Doncic, Terrence Ross and Blake Griffin. There simply aren't many players his size who are as comfortable shooting 3-pointers in the volume and at the range that he does.

For teams in need of spacing, the combination could open up the court in a big way. It didn't quite work out with the Pelicans and Bucks this season, but New Orleans saw its offensive rating improve by 3.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the court last season.

Mirotic, however, is an incredibly streaky shooter - he shot himself out of Milwaukee's rotation in the playoffs, for example - and he has missed a total of 63 games over the last two seasons for a variety of reasons, from a broken thumb to several ankle injuries.

Whichever team signs him might want a backup plan in place just in case one or both of those problems continue to arise. He is at least unlikely to make more on his next contract than he did on his previous one, which paid him $27 million over two years.

According to a report from Shams Charania, Mirotic will not be in the NBA next season, as he will return to Europe to play with Barcelona.

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