I measured how long it takes these 5 NBA players to catch the ball and release it down to the millisecond.
To be a more effective shooter, and to be a tougher challenge for the opposing defense, get your shot off quicker!
I measured the release times of top shooters in the NBA for the current season, up to the all-star break. I looked at 50+ catch-and-shoot makes for Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, Buddy Hield, JJ Redick, and Kevin Love and averaged each of their shot release time. I only measured pure catch and shoot jump shots. Shots with dribbles, shot fakes, jabs, alley-oops, or layups weren’t measured. Just pure catch and shoot. Just so we’re sure to be on the same page, I determined release time is the time between the ball hitting the shooters hands on the catch and the ball leaving the shooters hands (I know you know but I’m just clarifying!).
Kyle Korver – .76 second release average, only 3 of the shots I evaluated on Korver took one second or longer. Him and JJ Redick take very similar shots, but for Korver on the Cavs, he got a good number of open catch and shoot shots off a pass from Kyrie or LeBron.
Klay Thompson – .77 second release average, 2/50 shots were 1 second or longer, and those were wide open. He has the smallest “dip” of these 5 shooters as well.
Buddy Hield – .77 second release average, I averaged less than 50 attempts for Buddy because he hasn’t gotten as many pure catch and shoot shots up to the point of this study. Buddy came to my mind because I wanted to see if his release time as a rookie is any different. And as you can see… it’s not!
JJ Redick – .82 second release average, only 1 shot was 1.0 second or more. I’ve found the reason JJ’s release average takes a few milliseconds more than the other guys is that the degree of difficulty for most of JJ’s makes is the highest of this group. Almost all of the shots that I measured of JJ are him sprinting off a screen, decelerating very quickly as he meets the ball for the catch at full speed, squaring up by turning around 90 degrees on the catch, and dipping the ball to his waist area. I don’t think there is a player in the NBA that is as good at a single action as JJ Redick coming off screens.
Kevin Love – .79 second release average, only 10% of his shots took 1.0 second or longer, and those shots were wide open shots that were usually set up by LeBron.
This “study” isn’t about debating “Who has the quickest release in the NBA?”(*Side rant: I’m sick of all these debates and comparisons of who’s the best whatever, NBA players are the best in the world, just appreciate that). And if we wanted to do truly determine that, I’d have to measure more shooters down to the milli-gega-nano-second, and record every single make from multiple seasons, not just 50 makes from this year.
This purpose of this study is to give players a training goal, which is to practice (and make) shots at a quick release speed, while keeping sound mechanics.
Players — While you’re in the gym practicing your shots, it’s important to have the ball out of your hands in less than 1 second. I’d personally say that to aim for the 0.5–0.6 second range in practice is for the elite, maybe 1% of shooters. Very few shooters should aim for that release time when training. The 0.7–0.85 second range is more realistic for top-level high school, and college players. Shoot as fast as you can without sacrificing your form. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but your body will get used to it with hundreds of reps.
Also important is to become an expert at one or two actions instead of becoming average at ten actions. Specifically, let’s take JJ Redick or Kyle Korver for example. Nearly every one of Redick’s makes began with him sprinting off a screen. Kyle Korver is very similar. He sprints off a screen, fights like crazy to create space from his defender, and releases his shot quick. Even when the defense knows Korver is coming off screens for a shot, he still scores because he has mastered this action of coming off screens. There’s little need to practice step backs, coming off screens, half spin fadeaways, bump offs, pure catch and shoots, and 10 other moves all in one practice or workout. I think it’d be better to practice just one or two of those actions over and over and over… and over again, at game speed, with game like defense.
For coaches, these are valuable metrics for those athletes under your leadership who say they want to play college basketball, or play in the pros, but take 1.5 seconds to get the ball out of their hands during shooting drills. Now you have some metrics to tell them they are not getting their shots off quick enough!
Thank you coaches and players for reading and checking this article out. If there is a study you’d be interested to know more about hit me up on social media @ Masonwaters_ on twitter and Instagram! Or check out some of my player development videos on youtube like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTR93pnUkck