One of the most efficient shots in the NBA is an open three-pointer. The best teams in the league are typically the best at getting these.
The Thunder were third in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season and in the middle of the pack in attempts per game.
On paper, that’s pretty good but lack of three-point shooting depth could be an issue for the Thunder next season, according to David Thorpe of ESPN.
The biggest question will be what will happens in Oklahoma City. The Thunder added Kevin Martin when they lost James Harden and improved on offense in part because they improved to third (from 11th) in 3-point shooting percentage. If Jeremy Lamb quickly learns to play effective minutes or Reggie Jackson keeps adding to his already strong set of overall offensive skills, perhaps the Thunder can maintain their place as one of the best shooting teams in the league. Otherwise, they might feature a second unit that has no deep shooters on the court, and that would prove problematic against the Heat.
Thorpe says that outshooting the Heat from behind the three-point line will be one of the biggest keys to beating them in a series.
Last season, the Thunder had four players average one or more makes per game from three: Kevin Durant (41.6%), Russell Westbrook (32.3%), Kevin Martin (42.6%) and Thabo Sefolosha (41.9%).
Martin is gone and Westbrook is still pretty far from being a consistent three-point threat. Durant will always be one of the best shooters in the league. Sefolosha’s shooting has been on the rise the past two seasons, and him keeping that trend going will be key next season.
After those four (now three), the Thunder get a little shaky with their shooting.
Reggie Jackson, who will likely be the sixth man, only shot 23.1 percent from three last year. He’s been getting better but is without question a drive-first point guard.
Derek Fisher was lights out in the playoffs but is getting up there in age. The Thunder would prefer to not have to rely on him for much next season.
Serge Ibaka started taking threes last year and made 35.1 percent of them. Most were from the corner and it’s unsure how he will progress in that department.
Jeremy Lamb is a good three-point shooter with amazing range. His shooting will be just another thing the Thunder hope to get out of him next season.
Then there is Perry Jones, who the coaching staff likes as Durant’s backup at small forward. He’s not a threat from behind the arc.
Ryan Gomes may actually be a good option if the Thunder are looking for a stretch four who can hit the three, but we don’t even know yet if he will make the team.
Ideally, every Thunder role player would be a 3 and D guy. Especially with the stagnant offense the Thunder have a reputation for, surrounding the floor with three-point shooters is very important.
The Thunder lost out on Mike Miller and Dorell Wright this summer in free agency, so it is pretty clear that they are looking for some help in the three-point shooting department.
Will it be an issue next season? Probably not in the regular season, where the Thunder should still win a ton of games. But in the playoffs, it may be against some of the better teams in the league.