Allen Still Looking For His Shot
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Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM | December 12, 2005
Over his All-Star career, Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen has become known for two traits above all others - unparalleled shooting ability and remarkable consistency. Over the last three seasons, Allen has averaged 22.5, 23.0 and 23.9 points per game, shooting 37.7%, 39.2% and 37.6% from 3-point range.

As a result, it's doubly surprising that Allen has spent the first quarter of the 2005-06 season in something of a shooting slump. Allen leads the NBA with 54 3-pointers this season, but is hitting them at just a 31.6% clip. As a result, his 41.4% field-goal percentage is also a career low.


"It kind of threw my timing off where I was shooting the ball at different points on my release depending on whether I had a defender on me or not instead of shooting the same way every time."
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty
"There was a stretch where I didn't get a lot of open shots," Allen said last week. "I was taking shots that I was probably capable of making, but I was just barely getting them off. Then when I got open, I was rushing it when I was open. It was like somebody wasn't on me and I was trying to get them up quicker.

"It kind of threw my timing off where I was shooting the ball at different points on my release depending on whether I had a defender on me or not instead of shooting the same way every time."

A couple of days later, Coach Bob Weiss noticed something similar and chatted with Allen about his shot over the weekend.

"I had noticed some things about his shot," Weiss explained Saturday. After shootaround today, I asked him to shoot a couple of free throws, then we talked about it. We'll see if it helps."

Both Allen and Weiss touched on the difference in rotation between Allen's shot at the free-throw line and on his jumper. To Weiss, Allen's shot - which normally has much less rotation than the average NBA player's shot, almost like a knuckeball in baseball - had even less rotation than usual.

After all the focus on his shot, Allen made 10 of 21 attempts Saturday, a strong 47.6%. However, this is a case where overall field-goal percentage can be misleading. Allen made eight of his 11 shots inside the 3-point line (72.7%), but was just 2-for-10 from downtown.

After Monday's Sonics practice, Weiss said he had seen a difference in Allen's form during the practice.

"I think it's getting better, back to normal," said Weiss. "During the game, I didn't notice that, but in practice today, when he was shooting his 3s, it looked like he was back to normal."

Allen's slump has basically been confined solely to 3-point range. At the free-throw line, he's shooting 88.3%, the same as he shot last year and basically right on his career average of 88.4%. (Which is a good reason why both Allen and Weiss have mentioned having Allen shoot at the free-throw line while warming up to get his form down.) Allen's two-point percentage, 49.5%, is actually the second-best mark of his career, trailing only his 50.6% two-point shooting in 2000-01.

Allen's 3-Point Attempts
Year
3A/G
3A/FGA
2000-01
5.7
.357
2001-02
7.7
.460
2002-03
7.0
.391
2003-04
6.8
.372
2004-05
7.1
.372
2005-06
9.0
.451
One part of the issue is that Allen has been more dependent on the 3-point line this season. As the chart at right shows, his 9.0 3-point attempts per game are by a wide margin the most of his career. He's played more minutes and attempted more shots in general since being traded to Seattle, so he's actually shooting slightly fewer 3s as a percentage of all shot attempts than he did in the 2001-02 season, but that percentage is still up from the past three campaigns.

In fact, Allen is on pace to set an NBA record for 3-pointers attempted. His nine 3s per game would translate over an 82-game season to 738, easily surpassing George McCloud's NBA record (678 while with Dallas in 1995-96).

Weiss says he doesn't mind Allen shooting so much from downtown, "As long as they're open. He's had some great looks. They just haven't been falling for him."

Allen won't be the only player launching 3-pointers tomorrow, when the Golden State Warriors come to KeyArena to visit the Sonics (7:00 p.m., , FSN). The Warriors lead the NBA in 3-point attempts per game (24.8, the third most in NBA history) with the Sonics (24.2) just behind. Warriors guards Baron Davis (136) and Jason Richardson (113) rank third and fourth in the NBA in 3-point attempts, and Sonics forward Rashard Lewis (107) is also in the league's top ten.

"Some of the younger players are developing and maturing now, so they're playing good basketball," said Weiss on the Warriors. "They're playing fast and reckless, so you've got to get back. Transition defense is going to be big. They will pull a quick shot, so you have to be on your toes.

"They finished up very strong. Once they got Baron Davis, that gave them an element they didn't have. I thought they'd be pretty tough this year."

  • Starting forward Reggie Evans sat out practice with what was described as a sprained left foot.

    "(Athletic trainer) Mike (Shimensky) just came to me and said he had a little soreness in one of the bones in his foot, so he wanted to send him over to get it X-rayed this afternoon," explained Weiss. "Better safe than sorry."

    Looking to help out despite the injury, Evans was vocal on the sidelines, offering his teammates advice on positioning and encouragement.

    Center Nick Collison left early to undergo X-rays after being hit in the face in during practice.

    "I think he caught an elbow," said Weiss. "I didn't see it."

    Both players should be available tomorrow, and the Sonics will also have center Danny Fortson back after his one-game suspension. Another option up front for Weiss is Mikki Moore, who played well in place of Fortson on Sunday, scoring a season-high seven points.

    "It definitely makes me comfortable putting him on the floor," said Weiss. "It was the type of the game where they had small bigs, so I could get him out there, but he did play well and I'll kind of keep searching for ways to get him in the game."