Proper form is very important in every sport. A good golf swing for example, is predicated more by form than by power. It does not matter how many muscles you have or how hard you can swing a baseball bat, a good golf swing is contingent more on form than by power. In fact, the harder you swing a club without the proper form, the more you will probably swing and miss. A good golf swing takes precision, accuracy, and proper form. Just ask Charles Barkley.
Similarly, a good jumper in basketball takes proper form. Your shooting elbow should be tucked in without your elbow sticking out, but not too tucked in or it becomes a detriment to your jumper. Your guiding hand should also be on the side of the ball, instead of in front of it or behind it. Last but not least, you want to get a good amount of trajectory on the ball when you shoot because the percentages of the ball going into the rim increase dramatically if the ball is coming down from higher up in the air as opposed to a line drive. The way to get a good amount of arch on the ball is by releasing the ball at a higher release point.
Kawhi Leonard, for example, was able to dramatically increase his shooting percentage from college to the pros after his shooting coach Chip Engelland worked with Kawhi’s jumper. The main tweak that Engelland put into Leonard’s shot was his release point. Kawhi tended to shoot the ball barely above his forehead, but after Engelland made Kawhi release the ball way from further above his forehead, his percentages drastically increased. And the rest is history with Kawhi.
Below is a list of the top 20 ugliest jump shooters in NBA history who probably wished they had the services of a shooting doctor like Coach Chip when they were growing up. Once you get older, it is very hard to heavily alter your jump shot. In fact, altering a jump shot too much could actually make it worse than it currently is. This is why most shooting doctors only tweak a couple of things here and there on a player’s jumper, but these NBA players probably need a bit more than just that to fix their bad habits.
20 Bill Cartwright
Every kid that grew up in the ‘90’s grew up mimicking Bill Cartwright’s shooting form in one way or another. Cartwright has one of the most distinct shots in NBA history. Unlike some players who shoot the ball far too low, Cartwright shot the ball extremely high. However, it almost looked like he shot the ball from on top of his head because of the way he brought the ball back down low after he raised it above his head.
19 Tayshaun Prince
The defensive minded small forward was always known more for his ability to shut down the best offensive player on the court than scoring the ball. However, Prince has always been more than an adequate as an offensive player because of his ability to finish at the rim, but his 3-point stroke has always limited him from keep defenders honest. A part of the reason for that is because of how much this left-hander sticks out his left elbow when he shoots the ball.
18 Andre Miller
When most professional basketball players shot a basketball, they try to release the ball at the pinnacle of their jump. However, Andre Miller is one of the few players in the modern day age who still has a set shot. Miller was never known for his leaping ability, but the back-up point guard for the Washington Wizards barely gets a couple inches off the ground on his unusually reliant set-shot.
17 DeSagana Diop
The seven-foot center from Senegal has always possessed great size, but he has never been possessed a great shot. Throughout Diop’s 12-year NBA career, he averaged an abysmal 46% from the free throw line. Sometimes centers with big hands struggle shooting a basketball simply because it feels like they are shooting a volleyball, and Diop was no exception to the rule. Maybe Diop’s form would have looked better with a medicine ball instead of a basketball.
16 Matt Bonner
Believe it or not, Matt Bonner is still one of the best shooters in the league, but it does not justify putting him off this list. The Red Rocket led the league in 3-point shooting in 2010-2011 with an average of 45% a game. However, his shooting form remains one of the ugliest in the game. Bonnor shoots the ball like a shot put off of his right shoulder. It’s not exactly ideal because it can get blocked fairly easily, but at 6’10” that is rarely a problem for him.
15 Ronnie Brewer
Brewer has been jumping around the NBA for the past four years and it looks like his days in the NBA may be over soon. One of the reasons for this is because Brewer has always been a bit of an offensive liability. Brewer is a great defender, but his shooting stroke has always been a bit malfunctioned because he sticks out his right elbow way too much when he shoots.
14 Wilt Chamberlain
Everyone knows what kind of numbers Wilt Chamberlain put up, but they were not because he was shooting the ball from fifteen feet away from the basket. Chamberlain didn’t really have a proper shooting stroke. He was a career 51% free throw shooter, which is downright scary, considering how many more points he could have averaged per game. Most of Wilt’s points came off of dunks and put backs because he simply could not shoot.
13 Josh Childress
The 6’8” small forward was the 6th pick in the 2004 draft. He was certainly an offensive force during his playing days in college, but his jumper is one of the most distinct in the NBA for a reason. While most players start their shooting form above their eye-level, Childress shoots the ball from near his mouth, which helps for a quicker release, but is much easier to block.
12 Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin is one of the deadliest scorers in the league. His three-point ball is as reliable as anyone’s in the league, but it is not because of his form. K-Mart shoots the ball with a difficult wind up. He first begins with the ball on his right hip, he then swings the ball towards his left shoulder, before releasing it near his forehead. But as the saying goes, “Whatever works for you.”
11 Anthony Mason
The big fella that played for the New York Knicks greatly improved his jump shot throughout his career, but it was not the most aesthetically pleasing. The left-handed power forward shot the ball with his elbow sticking out, which prevented him from putting a good arch on his shot. If Mason tucked in his elbow just a little bit more, his shot would have looked a lot more natural.
10 Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq was a beast down low, but he had one flaw – free throws. Like many of the other big men on this list, Shaq’s hands are very big. The basketball almost feels like a tennis ball in his hands, so whenever Shaq shoots the ball it looks like he doesn’t know exactly how much force to use when he releases the ball. Otherwise, he would not shoot so much off his palms as he would his fingers.
9 Michael Adams
The fast-paced point guard was selected with the 66th pick in the 1985 draft, yet Adams scored more than 9,000 points proving all of his naysayers wrong. What made Adams so fun to watch was his unique jump shot. Adams also did not use a guiding hand when he shot the ball. In fact, his jumper really looked more like a floater than anything else. Not exactly a fundamental jumper, but it worked for him.
8 Don Nelson
Basketball fans know what kind of offensive guru Don Nelson was when he was a coach in the NBA. He was the one that pretty much invented the point forward position, along with the stretch four slot. However, most people do not know that Nelson had one of the most unique shots in the league. Nelson did not really use his guiding hand when he shot free throws. It was literally a one handed jumper.
7 Tony Allen
Tony Allen is a defensive menace on the basketball court, but his lack of shooting ability prevents him from being a complete two-way player. Due to Allen’s size, he has to play the shooting guard or small forward role, but he can’t really stay on the floor in every situation because of the little hiccup in his shot. Allen flings the ball when he shoots, which makes him a very inaccurate shooter. Most players focus too much on offense and not enough on defense, but Allen has the exact opposite problem.
6 Joakim Noah
You have to love Joakim Noah’s game. He hustles, plays 110% every time he is on the court, and he is one of the best locker room guys in the league. He also won Defensive Player of the Year this year. Noah has already established himself as one of the best players in the league and the best defender in the league as well. But that does not excuse his atrocious jump shot. Someone forgot to teach Joakim how to shoot a basketball when he grew up playing. Noah shoots the ball with two hands and puts a sidespin on the ball instead of a backspin on the ball when he shoots. From a physics perspective, his jumper is certainly not ideal, but his hustle points more than make up for his lack of shooting.
5 Dikembe Mutombo
Born in the Congo, Mt. Mutombo started playing basketball a little later in his career. Basketball is everywhere in the Congo now mostly due to Mutombo, but he started a bit later than usual compared to most professionals with their AAU programs. This may explain Mutombo’s atypical looking jump shot. The big fella also sticks out his right elbow way too much when he shoots, which may be one of the reasons why he never really relied heavily on his jump shot.
4 Andris Biedrins
The left-handed big man played only six games with the Utah Jazz last year and it is looking like his services in the NBA may be running out soon. Biedrins is a career 50% free throw shooter, which is a tall-tell sign that he cannot really shoot at all. In fact, it is not uncommon for Biedrins to even airball some of his free throw shots from the charity stripe.
3 Chuck Hayes
Chuck Hayes does as much as he can with his limited talent. Hayes is always playing out of position for his size. At 6’6” tall, most players Chuck’s size are playing shooting guard or small forward, but Chuck has been asked to play power forward or even center his entire life. No wonder he was never able to put some proper form into his awkward looking hitch shot.
2 Shawn Marion
The Matrix has one of the quickest releases in the NBA, but it is easily one of the ugliest as well. Having said that, Marion’s jumper is not pretty, but it is quite effective. Marion basically flips the ball into the basket with a flip of his wrist, whereas most players utilize their arms a bit more. What makes Marion’s release also so quick is that he releases the ball before he reaches the apex of his jump. The combination of his quick release and his flip of the wrist jump shot make Marion one of the ugliest jump shooters in NBA history.
1 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The number two pick in the 2012 draft has one of the most grotesque looking jumpers in the league. Before MKG was drafted he was always NBA ready on defense, but his weak jumper is still preventing him from becoming an All-Star. Whereas most of the players on this list stick out their elbows way too much, MKG has the exact opposite problem. Kidd-Gilchrist actually tucks in his elbow so much it almost looks like his guiding hand blocks his vision.