Skilled perimeter shooters will always have a job in the NBA. Generally, age is the only thing that forces a sniper into retirement.
Sure, it took Carmelo Anthony nearly an entire calendar year to find a roster spot. When the Blazers finally signed him, the 35-year-old wasted no time getting his groove back and earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors within his first month back. Anthony had strongly considering hanging up his high tops before Portland called.
This begs the follow-up question: Should the Sixers make a similar move for an aging veteran who can hit from downtown? There are players out there, none of them would be game-changers but a few could be difference-makers for a stretch run as Philadelphia aims to climb the Eastern Conference food chain.
While Brett Brown’s team ranks 18th in three-point percentage, there isn’t a single player that strikes fear into the hearts of the defense. Furkan Korkmaz is the Sixers’ top sniper at 39.1-percent while Matisse Thybulle stands at 38-percent followed by James Ennis (36.6) and Tobias Harris (35.6). Point is, they could use help.
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Don’t laugh. Smith’s numbers are surprisingly good — let’s block that bone-headed play in the NBA Finals out, OK? — and he’s been out there on Twitter about his desire to return to the league. The 34-year-old has shot 37.3-percent from behind the arc in 16 NBA seasons while averaging 12.5 points per game.
Sure, Smith hasn’t played meaningful basketball in more than a year but you don’t forget how to shoot. He was a key contributor during Cleveland’s title run in 2016, plus he has stood up for Sixers’ big man Joel Embiid against perennial hater Skip Bayless. More importantly, Smith’s jumper still looks silky smooth.
Crawford frequently posts the phrase “another day, another opportunity” on his Twitter feed. The 39-year-old has gone on record, via the New York Times, about his desire to return to the NBA and contribute to a contender. Crawford still works out twice a day in the hope a team will call or text, preferably a contender since he’s never won it all.
The three-time NBA Sixth Man-of-the-Year award winner openly said Philadelphia was “one shot-creator” away from a championship and would be “honored to play there.” Crawford would be that piece. He has shot 34.8-percent from three-point land for his career while averaging 14.6 points per game.
How about this for a redemption story? Cunningham, a Maryland native, starred at Villanova before embarking upon a pretty pedestrian career. The former second-round pick (33rd overall in 2009) never really caught on in the NBA and bounced around with seven different teams — break out the Raheem Mostert comparisons — before taking his talents to China.
The one thing Cunningham could always do, at any level and age, was shoot. He shot 34.5-percent from beyond the arc in 12 NBA seasons. This year, the 32-year-old is shooting 50-percent from three while averaging 15.1 points per game for Fujian Xunxing.
Did you know that Anderson is one of only nine players this decade to attempt more than 1,000 treys and shoot over 38-percent from three-point land? (H/T to Forbes.com for the stat). It seems to reason that the 31-year-old is exactly the player the Sixers need off the bench. When Anderson first entered the league in 2008, he was supposed to be a star in the making after the Nets took him 21st overall.
He never reached his full potential but earned accolades as a talented role player who was the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 2011-12 season. He signed a massive $80 million contract with the Rockets in 2016 and never lived up to the hype. The Sixers would be getting a once highly-touted prospect with a career scoring average of 12.5 points per game (38-percent from behind the arc) on the cheap.
Felton parted ways with the Oklahoma City Thunder in July seemingly because there was no longer a role for him on the team. The Thunder acquired Chris Paul in the offseason and there weren’t enough minutes to go around.
Felton is old, at 35 — and he was considered to be a selfish player by some in the organization, a point guard who brought the ball up the court looking to shoot first rather than facilitate. But maybe he could bring energy to a Sixers team that sometimes needs outside shooting in bunches. He has shot 32-9-percent from three for his career.