Skip to content

Three Stars of the Night: Stretching Out

Feb 12, 2013, 12:50 AM EDT

Josh Smith AP

The stretch big man has come a long way. I distinctly remember watching Sam Perkins play with the Lakers and Sonics through the 90’s and wondering how someone so big could shoot it from the perimeter so well. It was a little jarring to see. Perkins was 6-foot-10, about 235 pounds, and his eyes always looked half asleep — he made Tracy McGrady look alert by comparison. He wasn’t the most prolific 3-point shooter, but the way George Karl used him as a floor spacer and frontcourt partner next to Shawn Kemp was way ahead of its time.

Perkins was purely a specialist, but we’ve got a few different types of big men making Three Stars tonight. Apologies to Kawhi Leonard (more on him soon), Brook Lopez and Bradley Beal among others, but tonight was a night for big guys stretching out.

Third Star: Ryan Anderson - (31 points, 5-for-9 from 3)

If we’re talking “true” stretch bigs, Anderson should be first on every list out there. The 6-foot-10 power forward is on pace to lead league in 3-point attempts and makes for the second straight season, which is pretty incredible. We’ve talked about how big men have evolved at length here, but Anderson takes it to a whole different level. His 40 percent 3-point shooting makes him the perfect offensive pair next to more traditional bigs like Robin Lopez or Anthony Davis, and you have to give him credit for accepting a bench role after signing a big contract.

Although the Hornets’ place in the standings will almost certainly keep him from serious consideration, Anderson at least warrants mentioning for the Sixth Man of the Year award. He was a nightmare tonight in the pick-and-pop game, helping the Hornets to a big time blowout with his game-high 31 points.

Also, New Orleans? Love those Mardi Gras jerseys. It’s like watching three teams on the court instead of two.

Second Star: Byron Mullens - (25 points, 18 rebounds, 4-for-5 from 3)

Byron Mullens is a pretty awful shooter. Any other 7-footer who shot 37 percent from the field on 12 attempts per game would be told to go directly to D-League jail and not collect 200 dollars, but Mullens occasionally goes off for huge nights. Tonight was one of those nights, as Mullens scored Charlotte’s first ten points all by his lonesome. The artist formerly known as B.J. has gone for 24 and 27 points already this season, but his 18 rebounds were a season-high and helped snap Boston’s winning streak sans Rondo. That’s really the interesting thing about Mullens — the Bobcats are one of the only teams in the league who are in the position to ride out his brutal shooting nights so long as he can help elsewhere.

It may be tempting to tell Mullens to stop shooting so dang much, but what do the Bobcats really have to lose? If Mullens can develop from a 30 percent 3-point shooter to a 35 percent 3-point shooter, he’ll be a pretty useful guy to have around. Nights like this against one of the league’s best defenses will certainly buy him some time to see if he can become that.

First Star: Josh Smith - (26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 4-for-5 from 3)

The universal frustration with Josh Smith for taking so many long jumpers turned into laughter tonight, as just about everyone watching this game couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Smith has a lot of the other qualities of a stretch big man. He’s a good passer from the top of the key, and he understands floor spacing pretty well. But that jumper. Oh, that jumper. Smith is shooting 29 percent this year from 16-to-23 feet — an atrocious number made even more hideous by the fact that he’s launched 179 attempts from that range. A max player he is not, unless you locked a GM in a dark room and made him watch highlights from this game on a loop.

Smith is consistently a great defender and a strong rebounder, but it was the J that led the way against the Mavs. Smith channeled the spirit of Dirk Nowitzki in a closely contested road win by connecting on 7-of-9 shots from beyond 17 feet en route to a game-high 26 points. Check for a blue moon in Dallas.

Latest Posts
  1. Why I am going to miss Steve Nash

    Oct 24, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    steve-nash-getty Getty Images

    Nash was everything we want as a fan in an NBA player.

  2. 67RIEFNS No. 34: JaVale McGee doing JaVale McGee things

    Oct 24, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Media Day Denver Nuggets Media Day

    The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order. JaVale McGee played just five games last year after injuring his leg. How did we…

  3. 67RIEFNS No. 33: Emotional swings of Roy Hibbert

    Oct 24, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers Media Day 2014 Indiana Pacers Media Day 2014

    Pacers center filling huge role after last season’s great start, big collapse

  4. Josh Childress delivers flying elbow to opponent’s face (video)

    Oct 24, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    NBL Rd 3 - Perth v Sydney Getty Images

    Childress, who played for Pelicans last season, now playing (dirty) in Australia

  5. 67RIEFNS No. 32: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh leading a team without LeBron

    Oct 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Two Getty Images

    Are Heat stars too old to succeed without LeBron James?

  6. 67RIEFNS No. 31: Wizards’ small forwards

    Oct 24, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets vs Washington Wizards Charlotte Hornets vs Washington Wizards

    Paul Pierce, Otto Porter or Martell Webster – all intriguing for different reasons – could become Washington’s starting small forward

  7. Phil Jackson agrees with Jeff Van Gundy’s assessment of Triangle Offense

    Oct 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Phil Jackson Phil Jackson

    Van Gundy downplayed the offense’s impact on a team’s success, and Jackson co-signs.

  8. LeBron James special ‘Becoming’ to premiere on Disney XD (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Google ChromeScreenSnapz004

    Filmed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, “Becoming” includes rarely seen footage from LeBron James’ earliest days in sports.

  9. Josh Smith dunks all over Nerlens Noel (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT

    Nerlens Noel, Josh Smith AP

    Noel isn’t ready to stop that much power going to the rim yet.

  10. 67RIEFNS No. 30: Tim Duncan doing it again

    Oct 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin 2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin

    Spurs big man just won’t stop producing great seasons

Featured video

Heat can make playoffs without LeBron
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (4760)
  2. B. Lopez (4627)
  3. V. Oladipo (4528)
  4. N. Noel (4469)
  5. J. Lin (4307)