What can NBA's best three-point shooters tell us about Corey Kispert's future?


What can NBA's best shooters tell us about Kispert's future? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

If the trajectory of Corey Kispert's rookie season with the Wizards is any indication, he is likely to come back a noticeably improved player this upcoming 2022-23 season.

Those first-year numbers overall do not tell the full story, as Kispert raised his field goal percentage every single month and shot 38.6% from three after the All-Star break (24 games) as opposed to 32.2% before it arrived (53 games) while he dealt with an inconsistent role in the rotation.

Kispert, 23, figures to be a more important piece for the Wizards moving forward, in part because 3-point shooting was one of their biggest weaknesses last year and that is expected to be his specialty in the NBA. Kispert was widely regarded as the best shooter in the 2021 draft class after a four-year career at Gonzaga where he made threes with accuracy, in volume and across a large sample size.

But Kispert is entering just his second year in the league and even though he played a full college career, he's still in the early stages of his professional development. Even if he someday blossoms into a great NBA 3-point shooter, it could take years before that happens.

So, what can the Wizards expect from him this season in that regard? Some of the great 3-point shooters currently in the league and of the modern era may provide some perspective. A look at how long they needed to reach their primes as 3-point shooters may signal how long Kispert will need to reach his own.

First, a review of Kispert's shooting numbers from last season. He shot 35% from long range on 4.2 attempts across 77 games, 36 of them starts. He made 112 out of 320 total 3-point attempts and, as noted above, he finished strong. Over the final two months of the season, he knocked down 39.4% from three across 22 games.

While it was an all-around solid start to his NBA career, in order to join the ranks of the league's top perimeter shooters, he has a ways to go. There are two markers that could be used to represent that top 3-point shooting tier. One is 200 threes made and the other is 40% while making at least two threes per game.

Last season, 18 players made 200 or more threes. The last 82-game season before that, 2018-19, saw 12 players hit that milestone. The three seasons before had 12, 11 (including Russell Westbrook -- people forget) and eight (including Stephen Curry's NBA-record 402). Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and Gilbert Arenas are the only players to make 200-plus threes in a single season for the Wizards franchise.

As for shooting 40% while averaging two-plus made threes per game, 20 players cleared that bar last season. The closest Wizards player was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who shot 39% from deep while making 2.1 threes per game. Only four Wizards players have accomplished that feat, the last two being Bertans and Isaiah Thomas in 2019-20 (people again forget).

Kispert, meanwhile, averaged 1.5 made threes per game as a rookie, so he wasn't far off in that category. But in order to make 200 threes he would either have to shoot a much higher percentage or attempt a lot more threes. Even if you took his 38.6% 3-point clip from after the All-Star break, he would have to attempt 518 threes in a season, or 6.3 per game while playing all 82.

The point of this article, though, is to analyze the development of other shooters to get a sense of how long it could take Kispert to get there, if he ultimately does. Looking at players who have either eclipsed 200 threes or achieved the 40%/2.0 3PT threshold, here are 10 who could serve as good models for Kispert:

J.J. Redick, Danny Green, Buddy Hield, Eric Gordon, Kyle Korver, Evan Fournier, Duncan Robinson, Bryn Forbes, Seth Curry, Joe Harris

This list would exclude the Curry and James Harden types, who represent lofty parallels because they are much more than 3-point shooters. While Kispert could become much more than a 3-point shooter, he projects to be closer to a Gordon, Robinson or Harris.

Each of those 10 players have shot 40% or better while making two or more threes in a season. The average age they did that for the first time was 25.5 years old. Korver and Fournier were the youngest, each at 23, while Redick didn't get there until he was 30.

Of those 10 players, seven of them have made 200-plus threes in a single season. The average age of their first season hitting the 200 mark was 27. Korver was also the youngest of that group to do so at 23, while Redick was again 30. Redick, it's worth noting, entered the league before the 3-point revolution exponentially increased the volume of attempts.

Based on this, it may take Kispert some time to become an elite 3-point shooter. Unless he's Korver, who ranks fifth all-time in 3-pointers made and 10th in percentage, the road others took to 3-point prominence suggests it's more likely to happen in his mid-20s.

Kispert, though, is well on his way to becoming an impact 3-point shooter, the type the Wizards could very much use in their offense. He already set the franchise record for threes made by a rookie, passing Beal. It's logical to expect him to be even better next season.

And regardless of how long it takes Kispert to reach his prime as a shooter, something in between there and what he was last season would go a long way towards helping the Wizards, who made the fewest threes of any team in the league.


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