Three-point shooting is a must nowadays in the NBA. Every single team needs weapons that can punish from beyond the arc or else they just won’t be able to compete at the highest level. Some may not like it, but that’s just how the game’s played right now.
Obviously, the most dominant scorers in the league all rely on the three-pointer at the best of their capacities. There’s no more room for multidimensional scorers in the league, or they’ll be exposed by opposing defenses in the playoffs.
But what if we took the three-point shot away from their averages, would they still be as dominant? The answer is yes. Apparently, some of the most unstoppable scorers in the league would still make it to the top 10 even if they didn’t shoot threes. Let’s break it down:
10. Luka Doncic – 20.0 PPG
Luka Doncic currently averages an impressive 28.7 points per game, which is good for the third-highest scoring average in the league this season. Take his 2.9 three-pointers per game away from him and he’d slip al the way to 10th.
Doncic is the real deal. Perhaps his step-back three is the most impressive move of his repertoire, but he’s shown that he can do it all. He drives, finishes through contact, and also excels in the mid-range game. His offensive game doesn’t have any kind of flaw.
9. Devin Booker – 20.1 PPG
Devin Booker currently sits at the 12th spot in the league’s scoring leaders table with 26.1 points per game so the fact that he jumps all the way to 9th if we take the three-pointer away tells you just enough about how of a versatile scorer he is.
Booker has a Kobe Bryant-ish offensive skillset. He’s just too smooth, to skilled, to versatile to be stopped, even if his talents are wasting away in the Arizona desert. We’re talking about a guy putting up 26.1 points by just knocking down 2 three-pointers per game.
8. Kawhi Leonard – 20.7 PPG
Just like Booker, Kawhi Leonard barely cracks the top-10 in the league’s leading scorers table if we kept the three-pointer. If not, he’d be 30th. That tells you how much the league is relying on the offense from the perimeter nowadays.
Kawhi Leonard excels in the post, elbow, and the top of the key. He’s a master of the mid-range game. That’s why his 26.9 points per game would just drop to 20.7 points if we took away his 2.1 makes from beyond the arc (on 36.6% shooting) a game.
7. James Harden – 21.0 PPG
James Harden is the most unstoppable scorer in the league right now. He’s en route to winning his third straight Scoring title and while he hurts opposing defenses in a variety of ways, a third of his scoring comes from beyond the arc.
In fact, Harden would slip from the 1st spot of the leading scorers’ table (34.4 points) to 7th with 21.0. So even if you took away his 4.4 step-back three-pointers per game he’d still be an elite, top-10 scorer. Let that sink in the next time you criticize his game.
6. Bradley Beal – 21.5 PPG
It’s time we start putting some respect in Bradley Beal’s number. The man is a walking bucket trying to single-handedly lead the Washington Wizards. And while he hasn’t been as successful as he’d like, he’s still the league’s second-leading scorer.
Beal is averaging a whopping 29.5 points per game this season (and he didn’t make the All-Star Game, with is outrageous, to say the least). But if you took away his 3.0 three-pointers per game, that number would drop to 21.5, which would still be pretty impressive.
5. DeMar DeRozan – 21.9 PPG
This one may not come as a surprise as DeMar DeRozan has never been known for being a three-point shooter. In fact, he’s only averaged over 2.7 attempts per game once and has a career average of 0.4 triples per game out of 1.5 tries (28.3%).
So, to see him drop his season average from 22.2 to 21.9 without the three is logical, to say the least. This way, he’d jump all the way from the 23rd spot in the league’s leading scorers’ table to 5th. Sadly for him, that’s just not going to happen.
4. Zion Williamson – 22.7 PPG
It only took Zion Williamson a handful of games to prove that he was a generational talent. He schooled and embarrassed NBA veterans from the jump and, barring injury, he’s got all it takes to be an MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and even Scoring champion.
Thus far, Zion is tied for the 17th spot of the league’s scoring leaders with 23.6 points per game. But if you took away his 0.3 three-pointers per game, he’d make the jump to the 4th spot. He has enough upside to become a reliable three-point shooter but still needs to work on his arc and release.
3. Anthony Davis – 23.1 PPG
Anthony Davis is one of the most unstoppable two-way big men in the history of the game. His impact as a rim protector is only topped by his ability to embarrass defenders in the post. That’s why he’s currently the league’s 10th leading scorer of the season.
Davis has done a great job adding the three-pointer to his bag over the past couple of years. He’s knocking down 1.2 triples per game this season and if you took them away, his average would drop from 26.7 to 23.1, which would still be pretty respectable.
2. Russell Westbrook – 24.5 PPG
Russell Westbrook is a walking bucket. This guy can score at will on top of the best defenders in the league, and there’s just no slowing down once he takes off on the open court. However, his only offensive flaw has always been his three-point shooting.
Westbrook is currently averaging 27.5 points per game, which would be good for the 7th highest mark in the league. But if you took away his lone three-pointer per game, that number would drop to 24.5 and he’d be the league’s second-leading scorer.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – 25.1 PPG
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a three-point shot away from being a perfect basketball player. He can do it all. He can guard one through five, create for others, drive, kick, play all five spots on the court, and score over the league’s biggest superstar.
However, his lack of a three-pointer has exposed him in the playoffs over and over. Thus far, he’s averaging 29.6 points per game (3rd in the league) but he’d be the NBA’s leading scorer if there were no three-pointers. Just 4.5 of his nightly points come from beyond the arc (1.5 triples).