On media day this September, Nets head coach Avery Johnson was asked about the shooting stroke of his new guard, Anthony Morrow.
“It’s effortless,” Johnson said. “He makes threes in his sleep.”
Morrow doesn’t have the prettiest form or the quickest release, but it’s the results that count. And Morrow’s jumper gets results.
As an undrafted rookie playing Nellie-ball two seasons ago, Morrow led the league by hitting 46.7 percent of his threes. Last season, he increased the volume (from 184 to 307), but kept shooting at an efficient rate, ranking fifth at 45.6 percent.
The best 3-point shooter over a two-year span, Morrow earned a three-year contract with the New Jersey Nets, where he has been asked to spread the floor for Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. He made an immediate impact, nailing a game-winning three in the Nets’ opener against the Pistons.
And now with 246 threes made in his career, Morrow is about to earn his place among the greatest shooters of all-time.
To qualify for the all-time 3-point shooting list, you need to make 250 threes. So Morrow is four bombs away. As he stands, at 45.1 percent, he would rank second all-time, but if he were to go 4-for-4, he would be shooting 45.45 percent and rank No. 1, ahead of Steve Kerr.
That may be tough to pull off, but as long as Morrow hits four threes in his next 20 attempts, he’ll rank ahead of Hubert Davis and qualify as the second best 3-point shooter in NBA history.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The hump day schedule in the NBA is usually a robust 12 or 13 games deep, but we went with the diet plate (just 10 games) this week.
Lucky for us all, there was no skimping on the action.
Between John Wall‘s triple double, the Bucks’ beatdown of the Hawks, Michael Beasley‘s 42 points in a Minnesota win, David Lee‘s triumphant return to Madison Square Garden and a second straight epic comeback for the Utah Jazz in Florida, our table is loaded with plenty for you to chew on.
So all we have to figure out now is Did You See What We Saw?
The Prime Minister kicks things off with this special report on that Jazz-Magic thriller:
UTAH 104, ORLANDO 94
Looking good: Another night with Jerry Sloan‘s comeback kids! The Jazz rode the back of Deron Williams in the third quarter and Al Jefferson down the stretch to rally from an 18-point hole and sweep their annual trip to Florida. In their last five quarters (four regulation, one overtime), Utah outscored its opponents (Miami and Orlando) 153-112. And, as our man Dick Scanlon points out, the Jazz have rallied from 16-, 19- and 10-point halftime deficits in the last four days. Safe to say, the Jazz have this whole comeback-wins thing down.
Sound the Alarm: For Stan Van Gundy‘s bottle of Pepto Bismol, which is surely taking a pounding right now. Unlike when the Jazz beat the Heat two nights ago, Orlando’s lack of killer instinct wasn’t an aberration. Van Gundy was not pleased that after nearly blowing an 18-point lead against the Bobcats two games ago, the Magic didn’t learn from their mistake and totally blew their big lead against Utah. A jingle of the bell, too, for starter Ryan Anderson, whom Van Gundy cited for a lack of effort in his postgame comments.
HT’s Take: Big props for Sloan, who in back-to-back nights made crucial in-game adjustments. One night after the Jefferson-for-Kyrylo Fesenko center swap down the stretch in Miami, he switched to a zone defense in the second half against Orlando. That move flustered Orlando’s shooters and kept Dwight Howard a little more under control, allowing the Jazz to get some stops and sway momentum their way. Jefferson’s little rest in Miami worked out well last night, too, as he nailed a bunch of clutch shots in the post to seal the win.
MILWAUKEE 108, ATLANTA 91
Looking good: An early 13-point deficit for the Bucks disappeared when the reserves hit the floor. Corey Maggette and Ersan Ilyasova entered the game and promptly turned things upside down. By the time the Bucks’ reserves had finished their first half work they were up 54-40 and the rout was on. The Bucks are finally looking like the team many of us thought they’d be with a healthy Andrew Bogut back in the mix.
Sound the Alarm: The Hawks did that for us. Did you hear what they had to say about their power outage on their home floor? “I don’t understand what happened,” Al Horford said. “When adversity hit us in the face we went our separate ways,” Josh Smith said. Not exactly the sorts of things coach Larry Drew wants to hear from a team that was undefeated as recently as Sunday morning.
HT’s Take: The Bucks weren’t just good last night, they were fantastic once they got going. Like Bucks coach Scott Skiles said, if you get up 30 on the Hawks in their building, you’re doing work. If the Bucks can keep this up, they might look back on this early stretch of the season as the turning point. It certainly helps that Brandon Jennings (19 points and 4-for-5 from deep in the win over the Hawks) is heating up right now, too.
LAS VEGAS — Golden State general manager Larry Riley isn’t worried about his job status or that of coach Don Nelson after Thursday’s announcement of the franchise’s sale. A group led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors for a record $450 million from Christopher Cohan.
Riley expects the evaluation process of the front office to take place soon. Nelson is entering the last year of his contract and the league’s all-time winningest coach has talked about finally retiring after this season.
Nelson could also step aside this summer, but that’s highly unlikely with $6 million left on his contract. He said earlier this week he’s excited about the upcoming season.
“He will now have some decisions to make himself,” Riley said of Nelson. “I had some consultations with him. I don’t know where all that will go, but I think he has energy where he can coach the team.”
It’s a very real possibility Riley and Nelson aren’t retained by the new ownership group. Riley had spent more than 20 years in the NBA and understands the nature of the business.
“Twenty years ago it would have kept me up at night and it would have been on my mind all the time,” he said. “Fortunately for me I’ve been so busy, even since this whole [ownership change] began that I haven’t had time to really deal with it much, so that’s a good thing.
“I think I have enough maturity to understand what you can control and what you can’t, and you better work on the things that you can do something about. And that’s the way I approach it. it really hasn’t kept me up at night. It’s something that the decision will be made one way or the other on a lot of things in the franchise. There won’t be much I can do about it. I will continue to do my job until I’m told otherwise.”
Riley feels good about the direction of the team, adding the moves made this summer leave the Warriors deeper and more experience without getting older. The Warriors completed a sign-and-trade for David Lee, moving the disappointing Anthony Randolph in the deal. The Warriors expect the former New York power forward to anchor the frontline for years to come.
“I don’t know where Anthony Randolph’s career is going, but I know where David Lee is,” Riley said. “That was a bigger basis for making the deal than anything else.”
Golden State also signed Dorell Wright, is high on rookie lottery pick Ekpe Udoh, even though the power forward is out for at least six months. Hard-working gunner Anthony Morrow was lost to New Jersey and Corey Maggette was traded to Milwaukee.
Cohan approved all the moves up to this point, Riley said, with the new ownership group not having input on any of the transactions. The sale is pending league approval.
LAS VEGAS — Restricted free agent Anthony Morrow is expected to sign an offer sheet of three years and $12 million from New Jersey on Monday, giving the Warriors seven days to match. Golden State’s front office hasn’t decided whether to match, according to league sources.
The sources stressed that the Warriors haven’t ruled out matching the offer sheet.
The team wants to study how the contract is structured before making a decision. Morrow, one of the league’s deadliest 3-point shooters, averaged 13.0 points last season, starting 37 of 69 games.
The 24-year-old former undrafted free agent could be caught in a numbers game behind starting guards Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. At 6-foot-5, Morrow can also log some time at small forward. The Warriors are thin at that position, even with the recent addition of Dorell Wright.
Money is also going to play a large role in keeping Morrow. In addition to the $11 million committed to Wright over three years, Golden State signed new power forward David Lee to an $80 million deal over six years.
The decision facing Golden State general manager Larry Riley is whether Morrow is worth $12 million or if there’s a more cost-friendly alternative.