Raps' Stojakovic a natural shooter

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:48 PM ET

BOSTON — In an era where athletes have become glorified hoopsters with marginal basketball savvy, where highlight reel dunks are fashionable, Peja Stojakovic and Ray Allen have almost become dinosaurs.

With so few players being able to shoot as well as Stojakovic and Allen, both can play well into their 40s if they feel so inclined.

The art of the jump shot has become a lost art in today’s athletic, drive to the rim game.

Today’s players aren’t so much interested in running guys off screens than they are in posterizing a foe.

When all is said and done, both Stojakovic and Allen will go down as two of the greatest shooters the game of basketball has ever seen, two players who were drafted in the same year in a draft class that gets better with each passing year.

Stojakovic has a bit of Larry Bird in him with that patented high release, while Allen is similar to a Reggie Miller in his ability to use screens.

Whether it’s a catch and shoot, off the dribble, as a trailer, each heave by Stojakovic and Allen is as close to clinical as today’s game has to offer.

The sad thing about today’s NBA is that there isn’t much of a talent pool of pure shooters cut in the same cloth as a Stojakovic and Allen.

To hear the newest Raptor tell it, Stojakovic’s stroke came naturally while growing up in Yugoslavia.

“Since I started playing basketball as a 14-year-old all I could remember was taking hundreds of shots a day, over and over again,” Stojakovic said.

“It was all repetition. Nobody tried to change my shot. For me, it was more important to have that repetition because I had a pretty good touch from the beginning.”

As the years progressed, Stojakovic became much more aware of conditioning, an important dimension in maintaining a consistent and lethal stroke.

“Now, as I’ve gotten older, I understand the importance in having fit legs, in being in shape,” he added. “To have a good shot, you need to have the whole form, which is to say you need to use your whole body to release the shot.

“I think that¹s really important. It’s also important to keep repeating it over and over. It gives you confidence. The brain memorizes the release and you go from there.”

Friday’s night visit to Beantown, where the Celtics played host to the Raptors, provided Stojakovic with his second game as a Raptor.

His future as a Raptor is so uncertain it’s not even worth the time to go over the many options given Stojakovic’s expiring contract on a team bent on playing its youthful pieces.

But he remains a pro and Stojakovic’s stroke is as pure as it’s ever been.

“I haven’t seen him miss much,” marvelled head coach Jay Triano.

“(Thursday) we started practice at 11 and we finished at 12. He missed one shot. He’s automatic.”

Stojakovic, when he’s on the floor, will spread defences and can post up players when opponents are force to switch a guard on the small forward.

In many basketball textbooks, it’s often referred to as the 10,000 repetition rule, which is basically the amount of shots one needs to put up to develop a consistent shooting form.

“Peja’s done it more than that,” Triano added. “He just has a great feel for the ball. He’s got a great form and he’s got a high release point.

“He’s one of the best shooters in the history of the game.”

And so, too, is Allen.

“He’s unbelievable,” said Stojakovic. “Ray has the prettiest jump shot in the NBA, his technique, everything, it all looks good. His jump shot is amazing and he’s never changed.

“It doesn’t matter if he’s by himself, two guys are around him or if guys are chasing him around screens, it’s always the same release.”


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