Sports fans love to watch, analyze, and debate the game. It doesn’t matter which one. Everyone has their opinion on “the greatest … of all time” among the many debatable sports topics. So, is Steph Curry’s jump shot the most beautiful in the NBA? There’s no one right answer, but it’s worth debating.
When did basketball incorporate the jump shot?
For ease of gathering the facts, look no further than Shawn Fury’s Rise and Fire. This book’s 350 pages are dedicated to one thing: the jump shot.
In the early years, basketball players kept their feet on the ground while shooting the ball. In the 1930s, they experimented with jumping to shoot. Players in the ’40s and ’50s made it clear that the jump shot was superior. By the time the ’60s took place, “gunners” were common on college rosters.
Basketball is a unique team sport where an individual can be exceptional. Pioneers of the jump shot were seen as mavericks, bucking the system. Not everyone was happy about this. Of course, those in charge fought the change.
Coaches, journalists, and administrators felt the jump shot threatened the integrity of team sports. A quote by Jimmy Breslin, published in the New Yorker, shows the hostilities at the time. “What’s ruining basketball is the jump shot,” Breslin wrote, “It requires no team effort. Just a guy who can jump and shoot with made-in-a-laboratory accuracy.”
The concept behind the jump shot
The idea behind the jump shot is to release the ball at the height of the jump trajectory. The goal is to elevate the ball beyond the defending player, which forces the defender to jump as well.
Timing is critical for both the offensive and defensive moves. Additionally, a jump shot allows the player to release the ball at a height closer to the goal.
Steph Curry’s jump shot
What makes Curry’s jump shot so impressive is that he’s inches shorter than the average NBA player. Obviously, height is not the only factor of a good jump shot. Curry’s advantages are his quick release, follow-through, and perfect form.
An analysis of his mechanics reveals alignment of his hip, elbow and shooting shoulder. Curry’s forearm tilts, positioning the ball over his right eye. He then turns his feet to the left and gains momentum by dipping then rising to shoot. Add to this a current .476 shooting percentage, and it’s easy to argue that Curry has the most beautiful jump shot.
Other NBA players with debatably better jump shots
After joining Curry on the Warriors, Klay Thompson delivered. ESPN traces the development of the first-round draft pick’s jump shot from Dr. Kaempf (his middle school coach) to becoming an NBA superstar. Dr. Kaempf instilled good form in his players. He made them practice their jump shot both under the basket and in work outs.
When comparing Curry’s and Thompson’s jump shot, Coach Kerr said, “I think Steph is more rhythm-based. He likes to dribble into the shot.” He added, “[Klay is] probably more comfortable that Steph is just catching and shooting.” Kerr also said, “From a technical standpoint, I think Klay is as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Another player whose jump shot is legendary, Irving uses his excellent hand-eye coordination, lightning-fast speed, and ability to get to the rim to his advantage. Bleacher Report once gave Thompson an 8/10 in its ranking of the NBA’s 10 most beautiful jump shots. It reported that he “possesses one of the prettiest and most lethal jumpers in basketball.”
So, is Steph Curry’s jump shot the most beautiful? We will let you decide.