WNBA superstar Elena Delle Donne made history on Sunday as she became the first WNBA player to become a member of the illustrious 50-40-90 club. Could any San Antonio Spurs players join her in the club this season?
The gold standard for shooters, the 50-40-90 club, welcomed a new member on Sunday. Washington Mystics superstar Elena Delle Donne made history and became the first WNBA player to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the arc and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
Delle Donne’s all-around game is phenomenal, but it’s her stunning free-throw percentage that really stands out. Delle Donne has made 114 out of 117 free throw attempts, a ridiculous 97 percent. She became the 9th member of the club and joins a who’s who of shooters.
THE CLUBLarry Bird (x 2)Mark PriceReggie MillerSteve Nash (x 4)Dirk NowitzkiKevin DurantSteph Curry Malcolm Brogdonpic.twitter.com/7WXbZU2JOY
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It takes a special kind of player to meet the entry requirements for this exclusive fraternity of shooters. Meeting the base volume numbers of 300 field goals, 82 three-pointers and 125 free throws while maintaining high shooting percentages is rarely achieved.
The San Antonio Spurs have had to take on several members of the 50-40-90 club over the years, but have never had a player of their own join that rare air. Could this year be the season that finally changes? Here are the two most likely candidates from the current team to make the 50-40-90 club this season.
Next: Marco Belinelli
Sharpshooter Marco Belinelli stands out as a San Antonio Spur with the potential to make the 50-40-90 club. Belinelli has built a respectable career out of his consistent jump shot, but could he elevate his game this late in his career?
Belinelli has come close to meeting the percentage requirements in seasons past. He’s shot 40 percent from behind the arc twice in his career. First during the 2010-11 season with the New Orleans Hornets, and then again in 2013-14 during his first stint with the Spurs. He’s shot 90 percent from the line over the past two seasons.
The 33-year-old has never shot of 50 percent from the field throughout his career. Part of what makes Marco such an exciting player is also what’s holding him back from ever entering the 50-40-90 club. You would be hard-pressed to find a player in the league with a similar affinity for off-balance shots.
Leaning forward or backward, fading away to either side, I doubt Marco has ever seen an off-balance shot he didn’t love. It can be both exhilarating and frustrating to watch. Sometimes it allows him to get difficult shots off from seemingly impossible angles, and other times he’s overcomplicating what should’ve been an easy look. It’s a double-edged sword, but it’s what makes Marco, Marco
Another limitation on Marco’s chance of making the 50-40-90 club is his likely decline in playing time. Belinelli is looking at an uphill battle for playing time. There are several established players ahead of him on the depth chart as well as a few young up-and-comers nipping at his heels.
Belinelli fell short of the 300 field goals and 125 free-throws required for club entry last season. Looking at even fewer minutes this year, it could be difficult for Belinelli to put up the necessary stats.
Next: Bryn Forbes
Bryn Forbes is the other Spur with an outside chance of entering the 50-40-90 club. Forbes took a leap last season. After being pressed into a starting role following the injuries to Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, Forbes excelled in his new role.
A knockdown shooter, Forbes exceeded the 40 percent from deep requirement last season. He would finish the season going 42.6 percent from deep. Meeting 40 percent from deep mark again shouldn’t be too difficult for Forbes.
As the Spurs’ best shooter, he should have plenty of plays drawn up for him to get off spot-up shots. And with the departure of Davis Bertans, Forbes’ three-point volume should increase. Meeting both the accuracy and volume marks from deep should not be an issue for him.
As the Spurs’ starting point guard for a stretch, Forbes had the ball in his hands more than ever last season. That will change this year as White and Murray take on more of the playmaking responsibilities. This will allow Forbes to play more off the ball on offense, opening up easier spot-up looks.
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Forbes has never shot 50 percent from the field so far in his career. His career-high mark was set last season when he connected on 45.6 percent of his field-goal attempts. A 4.4 percent increase isn’t inconceivable and moving back to his more natural position as a pure shooter should put 50 percent from the field mark within his reach.
The most difficult of the marks to reach will be the free throw numbers. The percentage isn’t the issue, Forbes shot 88 percent from the line last year. The volume simply isn’t there. He only shot 78 free-throws all of last season. It’s difficult to see him driving that number up to an area where 125 made free-throws is a possibility.
There’s a reason the 50-40-90 club only has nine members. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to achieve, reserved for historically great players. While Forbes and Belinelli are great shooters, it’s difficult to see either of them joining Elena Delle Donne in the club this year.
Even still, they will be counted on to deliver from deep for a Spurs team that needs all the shooting it can get.