Stojakovic can make a difference
Peja Stojakovic didn't lead the league in scoring for the last two years in a row like Tracy McGrady. He didn't win three NBA Titles in a row like Shaquille O'Neal. But when the 6-foot-10 small forward for the Kings demanded a trade last week, the entire league started matching up salaries and measuring cap space in an attempt to get the Serbian shooting star.
Stojakovic led the entire league with 240 3-pointers last year. He also shot 43.3 percent from distance.
The player with the second-most 3-pointers made last year was Baron Davis at 187, and he shot 32.1 percent. The only five players in the league with a higher shooting percentage from long range made a combined 388. That's only 77 each on average.
The all-time highest career shooting percentage from long distance is held by Steve Kerr, who shot 45.4 percent. Kerr made 726 triples. Hubert Davis is next at 44.1 percent while making 728. Drazen Petrovic is third at 43.7 percent. He drilled 255 triples.
Imagine if Stojakovic made his demands a year earlier and some lucky team had his numbers on its side for the 2004 campaign.
Without Peja, the Kings go from a monstrous 601 triples on the season to a meager 361, dropping them below the league average. Sacramento would no longer be the high-scoring team able to stretch defenses from 3-point line to 3-point line.
Cleveland was also the worst shooting team in the NBA with a 31.4 percent shooting mark. The Hornets were next at 31.9 percent, and the Jazz and Clippers one spot up at 32.1 percent. The Lakers shot 32.7 percent.
Substitute Stojakovic on any of these teams and their numbers change drastically.
As a team, the Lakers went 365-for-1,115 from long range. Add in Peja's 2004 season total of 240 triples in 554 attempts and the Lakers are now 423-for-1,115. That's a jump from 32.7 percent to 37.9 percent. The Lakers go from being the 25th-worst shooting team in the league from distance to the second best.
Apply this same formula to the Clippers and they go from a team making 329 of 1,024 triples to a team making 391 of 1,024. The Jazz would improve to 40 percent from 32.1 percent. With Peja, Utah is the best long-distance shooting team in the league.
Add Stojakovic to the sorry-shooting Cavaliers and they go from making 247 of 786 from distance to making 313 of 786. They go from shooting 31.4 percent from long range to shooting 39.8 percent from long range. They go from being the absolute worst team in the league in 3-point shooting to the absolute best shooting team in the league in 3-point shooting because of one single player.
Do the Miami Heat, with the addition of Shaquille O'Neal, become the best rebounding or shot blocking team in the league? Do they start the season with the best frontline in the game?
Do the Houston Rockets become the highest-scoring team in the league with the addition of Tracy McGrady?
But by sheer quality and quantity, Stojakovic has the ability to turn any team in the NBA into the best long-distance shooting team in the entire league.