The field for the NBA All-Star Three-Point Shootout is set. And almost lost amongst superstar names like Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups, rookie sensation Stephen Curry, and big-market bombers Danilo Gallinari and Channing Frye — the first and third-leading three-point shooters in the NBA, respectively — is defending champion Daequan Cook.
Cook was something of an unknown commodity last year when he entered the contest, and this year he’s back under the radar. Seemingly on the verge of a breakout season, he’s only managed 4.4 points in 14 minutes per game for the sub-.500 Miami Heat, and is hitting just 28 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. But like every big-time shooter, Cook knows a hot streak is right around the corner if he just keeps firing.
Before the season, I interviewed Cook for Dime’s regular “Ballers Blueprint” feature, where he talked about the art of the long-range shot.
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HOW TO BE A THREE-POINT SNIPER
“Usually I shoot about 500 jumpers a day in the offseason. This summer I wasn’t shooting the ball as much because I was rehabbing my left shoulder, which I injured in the playoffs. So I was shooting like 100 shots a day, not much more than that.
“When I shoot 500 a day, I have to make at least 400 out of that 500. I’ll do it in sets of 20 from each spot. After half of the 500, I’ll take a break.
“People always ask me what’s the right form of shooting, but I don’t think there is one. For great shooters, it comes natural. It’s something you’re born with. Whatever your form looks like, if you’re making shots, the mechanics aren’t a big deal. I haven’t really changed the mechanics of my shot at all — it’s been the same ever since I was growing up. I do put more arc on it now, because NBA players are more athletic and can get higher than guys in high school or college, and you don’t want to give them a chance to block it. But it’s more about knowing when it’s a good shot to take and when it’s not a good shot.
“When you’ve got a player like Dwyane Wade on your team who creates a lot of open situations, you just have to be ready for when you get that two seconds of open time. That’s more than enough time to get a shot off, and most of the time players come out to defend me with their hands down because they’re threatened by the drive, not knowing I’m gonna shoot more than anything. It gives me an opportunity to get my shot off, and not too many people are capable of blocking it.
“I know that I’m known now as more of a three-point threat, so it’s important for me to work on my off-the-dribble and pull-up moves. You could see that in the playoffs: Throughout the whole series with Atlanta they played me tight, except for Game 2. (Note: Cook had 20 points and six treys in that game.) It was like that during the season, mostly after the All-Star break. People started to realize I’m a top gun as far as shooting the ball. I’ve always been able to do a lot of things to score, but I’ve been considered a spot-up shooter in the NBA, and I’ve almost limited myself the last couple of years. So now I’m getting out of the habit of limiting myself and expanding my game.”
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