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Gunslingers of the Future: Draft prospects that could light it up from three in the NBA

Just shoot it.

Eye on the ball.
Eye on the ball.

SportsCenter highlights are always filled with dunks and game-winning shots, but rarely do you see footage of a shooter that always lights it up regardless of the circumstances. These gunslingers have been prominent in the NBA for decades, and they will always have a role in the league, yet they aren't eulogized like the athletic freaks that can dunk a basketball.

Sometimes the glorification of elite athletes leads us to overlook guys that can just flat out play and shoot an orange ball through a rim.

These specialists are found all over the draft: including the first round, like Ray Allen (1996, #5), Stephen Curry (2009, #7), J.J. Redick (2006, #11), and Ryan Anderson (2008, #21); the second round, such as Steve Novak (2006, #32), Danny Green (2009, #46), and Kyle Korver (2003, #51); or even as undrafted free agents, like Bruce Bowen (1996), Raja Bell (2000), and Wesley Matthews (2009).

All of these players bring different skills besides three-point range, but it's their sharpshooting ability that has allowed them to stick in the NBA, or even take their game to another level.

Scouts and general managers looking for the next great gunslinger will search far and wide as they prepare for the June 26th NBA Draft, and this year's crop of prospects has a lot to offer. Sharpshooters can be found in the top ten, all the way down to the stragglers in undrafted free agency.

Here are only eight of the many potential three-point threats from this year's crop of prospects:

Lottery Picks

Doug McDermott - F - Creighton

No player in this draft has the ability to hit shots from all over the court like Doug McDermott does. There are legitimate questions about his ability to create for himself, but there is no denying his potency as a gun slinging three-point shooter.

McDermott, a career 45.8 percent from behind the arc, can spot up or pull up from anywhere, and it's lightning fast release that makes him so lethal. After years of guidance from his father, McDermott has developed into a quintessential shooter, as he utilizes the hop, dip, turn, and the sweep and sway to perfection.

There is no doubt that McDermott will translate his shooting prowess to the pros. For years, he will spread the floor and knockdown clutch shots for his team as one of the premiere sharpshooters in the NBA.

Nik Stauskas - G - Michigan

After a developmental freshman season, Nik Stauskas bulked up over the course of the summer and came back as a new and improved player. Stauskas developed the ability to get to the rim and score, and some playmaking skills, but it's still his dangerous shooting that makes him a potential lottery pick.

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has excellent shooting mechanics, both off the dribble and when spotting up. Stauskas' ball handling skills brought a new dimension to his game, as defenders had to respect his ability to penetrate the lane. As a sophomore, he increased his three-point percentage to 44.2.

Even though some other aspects of Nik Stauskas' game remain a concern, his scoring versatility, athleticism, and of course, his dominant shooting have virtually locked him in as a lottery pick.

Non-Lottery First Rounders

Rodney Hood - F- Duke

After transferring from Mississippi State, Rodney Hood jumpstarted his draft stock into the first round at Duke. He displayed deep range and excellent one-motion mechanics while shooting 42.0 percent from three.

Hood has a high dribble and may struggle driving the lane, but he is an extremely proficient pull up shooter. His sweet spot seems to be right at the top of the arc, as he frequently dribbled to that area when he was the pick-and-roll ball handler.

With clean mechanics, Rodney Hood will be able to find his niche in the NBA, just as long as he progresses his defensive abilities to at least a passable level.

Shabazz Napier - G - UConn

The special thing about UConn guard Shabazz Napier is his ability to hit shots equally well when off-balanced as he does when his feet are set. Many shooters must be in a stationary position when shooting, but Napier can hit those "no, no, no, yes!" shots as proficiently as he does regular attempts.

Napier constantly improved his three-point percentages over his four-year collegiate career, despite carrying a heavier load of the offense. The national champion point guard also developed the versatility of being able to drain threes off of screens; he is exceptional at hugging close to the pick and exploding out to perimeter.

Not to mention that some players just have a "clutch gene" and Shabazz Napier is one of them. He hit clutch shot after clutch shot to help lead the Huskies to a national title, while elevating his draft stock.

Second Rounders

Spencer Dinwiddie - G - Colorado

Despite a torn ACL, Spencer Dinwiddie retains his draft potential as an intriguing combo-guard. With great size and intangibles, Dinwiddie will be drafted somewhere in the second round. Though his true point guard talents may not fully maturate, Dinwiddie has enough playmaking and shooting skills to stick in the league.

The 6-foot-6 guard shot 41.3 percent from three as a junior, though he needs to prove that he can hit shots when spotting up. The far majority of his attempts came off the dribble, so his development as a catch and shooter will be key when assessing his potential as a gunslinger.

C.J. Wilcox - F - Washington

As an experienced senior, C.J. Wilcox has developed into a versatile shooting threat. He can drain threes off the catch, dribble, off-ball screens, pick-and-roll, and in transition. Wilcox shot 38.9 percent from on his 773 total collegiate attempts from downtown, which is particularly impressive considering he carried the load for Washington.

However, Wilcox is already 24-years-old and is slightly undersized at 6-foot-5, so the other parts of his game must develop in order for him to have staying power in the NBA. Wilcox has so much flexibility as a shooter, but undersized shooting guards are a dime-a-dozen and the ones that bring other skills aren't.

Undrafted Free Agents

Alec Brown - PF - Green Bay

What NBA team wouldn't want a 7-foot-1 three-point threat? Alec Brown shot 42.4 percent during his last two seasons with Green Bay and will certainly earn a spot on a summer league roster. He will need to improve his core strength, but the smooth fundamentals are there for his shooting touch to translate to the pros.

Niels Giffey - F - UConn

After shooting 48.3 percent from three as a senior, the relatively unknown Niels Giffey now has a chance of cracking an NBA roster due to his sweet stroke from outside. Giffey is an excellent spot-up shooter and might be gritty enough of a defender to stick in the league. Even if he doesn't crack a roster, he should enjoy a nice long career with a European club.

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