Isaiah Joe proves to be more than a shooter during slump

Isaiah Joe #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Amanda Loman/Getty Images)
Isaiah Joe #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Amanda Loman/Getty Images) /

Sharpshooter Isaiah Joe broke out of the jails of sparse playing time by doing what he does best — shooting the lights out from beyond the arc.

But that rise — one that took the league by storm and pushed the OKC Thunder’s season ceiling to new heights— seemed to have faced some shackles down the stretch of the season.

Isaiah Joe has been shooting at an astounding rate from the three-point line (41 percent) on about five attempts per game across the season. His February numbers went as high as 48 percent from deep on close to seven tries per contest.

His terrific shooting has been a constant in the Thunder offense. His marksmanship has impacted OKC’s scoring barrages and has been striking to behold.

Month               GP               3PTM              3PTA              3PT%
November        11                 1.5                    3.7                41.5
December        13                  2.1                   4.5                 45.8
January             13                  2.7                    6.2                43.8
February           11                 3.2                    6.6                 47.9

Joe’s numbers, however, dipped in the month of March to just 31 percent on about two makes per game. In the past 10 games, Joe had nights where he drilled zero threes twice on back-to-back occasions — first against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Lakers, then versus the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers just last week.

In those games, the Thunder went 1-3, contributing to the team’s 4-6 record in their last 10, where Joe’s shot plunged to 30 percent on six attempts.

While Joe’s shooting is crucial to the OKC Thunder’s cause, his slump has just been on par with other elite shooters of the game’s coldest stretches.

Just last season, Stephen Curry — regarded as the best shooter of all time — had his worst shooting month of his career last January 2022. He shot about 33 percent from deep on a high volume of about 11 tries a night.

Joe, unlike Curry, is not a focal point on offense, but his dip in numbers, considering his role as complementary piece, can be linked from the defenses catching up and plotting out on Joe’s shooting tendencies.

Besides, Joe is in the pantheon of the Thunder’s most elite three-point shooters.

The last player who shot 40 percent from long range with near the same volume as Isaiah Joe was Danilo Gallinari in the 2019-2020 season, converting 40 percent of his seven three-point attempts per game.

Disregarding three-point volume, only Anthony Morrow from the 2014-15 season (43 percent) and Kevin Martin from the 2012-13 season (42 percent) have been better than Joe in terms of percentage,

For what he brings to the court, Joe’s three-year, $6 million contract is considered a huge bargain, and his savvy pickup, which subsequently allowed him to break loose to his potential, is worth the recognition.

After being the second-worst and worst three-point shooting team in the past two seasons respectively, one can say that Joe’s emergence is a boon and luxury for the OKC Thunder.

The threat of his catch-and-shoot threes, which he drains at a 43 percent rate, shall still linger on opponents’ game plans. His shooting gravity shall continue to have its effects to loosen up defenses for other guys’ offensive strides.

As the entire OKC Thunder faithful waits for Joe’s touch to erupt once more, head coach Mark Daigneault remains a believer of Joe’s shot.

“I’m just going to sit in the grass and wait…I’m not going to over coach that,” said Daigneault.

What helps keep Isaiah Joe in the rotation as he goes through mini-shooting-slumps, is his well rounded game. Joe is more than just a three point sharpshooter, shooting 70 percent at the rim this season which places him in the 88th percentile.

Despite his lack of size, Joe plays better than average defense. In fact, Synergy grades out the guard as a “very good” defender, ranking in the 74th percentile holding his opposition to just 38 percent shooting from the floor. This is thanks to Joe’s pesky nature, possessing the ability to stay attached to the hip of his man.

Next. OKC Thunder are already earning respect around the NBA. dark