Spurs looking to improve shooting

Brent Barry is about to become a featured perimeter player for the Spurs, who have to be favored to win the NBA title.

Updated: August 13, 2004, 10:37 AM ET
By Terry Brown | NBA Insider

The San Antonio Spurs could have used a shooter in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals last year. Center Rasho Nesterovic failed to make a single basket in the entire game and the starting five shot a combined 26 percent from the field.

They could have used a shooter in Game 4, when Tim Duncan went 5-for-13 from the field.

They could have used a shooter in Game 5, when Tony Parker missed 16 of 23 shots.

By the time Bruce Bowen and Hedo Turkoglu had gone 0-for-10 from the field in Game 6 and the Spurs were eliminated by the Lakers, they knew they had to find a shooter.

But as much as the Spurs needed Brent Barry this offseason, the 6-foot-6 guard from Oregon State needed them even more.

As a rookie for the Los Angeles Clippers, Barry shot 47 percent from the field, 41 percent from distance and 81 percent from the free-throw line. For his career, he has shot 46 percent from the field, 40 percent from distance and 82 percent from the free throw line.

Brent Barry
Brent Barry may be the most underrated shooter in the NBA.
In 2002, Brent was one of only two NBA players to shoot over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from 3-point range and over 80 percent from the free-throw line.The next season, he missed pulling it off again by only three buckets. Last year, he shot 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from distance and 82 percent from the line.

Here's the problem.

He put up those numbers while as only the fifth-leading scorer for a Seattle SuperSonics team that went 37-45 and missed the playoffs by six games.

In 2001, Barry was the sixth-leading scorer for a Sonics team that went 44-38. In 1999, he was the third-leading scorer for a Chicago Bulls team that went 13-37. In 1998, he was the fourth-leading scorer for a Clipper team that would end up at 17-65.

After nine seasons in the NBA, Barry has never been better than the third option and played for teams that have gone 306-400. He has never averaged more than 15 points a game and stands at 10.7 for his career.

But Barry is not simply a one-dimensional shooter. He is a highly-efficient combo guard who has also led his team in assists and steals in the past.

He plays better defense than Peja Stojakovic, runs an offense better than Ray Allen and shot better from long distance last year than Allan Houston.

Barry shouldn't be a part-time starter for a lottery-bound team. He should be the shooting guard for a squad competing for an NBA Title.

Barry is about to become a featured perimeter player for the Spurs, who have to be favored to win the NBA title. They already have the MVP-caliber post player. They already have a slippery quick point guard. Now, they've got the most underrated shooter in the NBA.

But here's the real reason why Barry needs the Spurs even more than they need him. In the 13 playoff games he has played in the NBA, Barry has made only 37 of 94 shots for 39.4 percent.

Since becoming the best shooter in the NBA that you've never heard of, he still has a lot to prove.

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