John Tomase

In honor of Scheierman pick, here are best Celtics left-handed shooters ever

Will first-round pick Baylor Scheierman eventually join this list?

NBC Universal, Inc.

Fire up the highlights of Celtics first-round pick Baylor Scheierman and what immediately jumps out is pretty basic – he's a lefty.

There's something about a smooth left-handed stroke that just looks pure. From Chris Mullin to Manu Ginobili to James Harden, the best left-handed shooters look like they're playing a different game; flip their shots in a mirror, and they still don't look conventional.

The Celtics haven't boasted a ton of left-handers over the years. The greatest winner in NBA history, Bill Russell, is one example. But he was known more for his shot-blocking and rim-running, shooting only 56 percent from the free throw line.

As a product of the modern game, Scheierman arrives in the NBA with a readymade 3-point stroke after converting 39 percent of his attempts at Creighton.

So where will he rank among the best southpaw shooters in franchise history? Here's my top five.

1. Isaiah Thomas

The King in the Fourth may have only burned briefly, but at the height of his all-NBA powers, he was basically unguardable. Thomas' entire game was predicated on getting to his left hand. The whole league knew it, and still no one could stop him. In addition to fearless drives and mid-range pull-ups, Thomas possessed deadly 3-point range. Watching him curl off a screen, jump stop, elevate, and launch was simply basketball joy.

On December 30, 2016, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas scores 29 of his 52 points in the 4th quarter against the Miami Heat at TD Garden.

2. Nate "Tiny" Archibald

Before I.T., there was Tiny. A product of the New York City playgrounds, Archibald built a Hall of Fame career on his deft ball-handling and decision-making, and he's still the only player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season.

Archibald may be primarily known for his creative and relentless ability to penetrate, but he could knock down open 16-footers, too. By the time he joined the loaded Celtics at the dawn of the Larry Bird Era, he was primarily a facilitator. He made three All-Star teams in Boston, winning his sole title in 1981.

3. Dave Cowens

The other Hall of Fame Big Red in Celtics history (joining Bill Walton), Cowens powered the 1970s Celtics to a pair of championships. An undersized center at 6-foot-9, he scored inside on an assortment of hook shots, putbacks, and poster dunks. (And if you don't believe me on that last one, click here).

But he could also shoot medium-range jumpers from the Kevin Garnett areas of the floor with the kind of stroke that would've made him a max-contract stretch-four in today's NBA.

4. Delonte West

And now the overall talent level of our list drops considerably. West looked like a steal after being chosen 24th overall in 2004, but he had numerous troubles off the court, and was eventually moved in the deal that brought Ray Allen to Boston.

West still authored some decent moments here by playing a style that resembled a left-handed Eddie House, with a willingness to take and make big shots. The arrival of Rajon Rondo made West expendable, and he went on to have a brief run as a reliable safety valve for LeBron James in Cleveland before personal issues ended his career.

5. Raef LaFrentz

Talk about a guy who came along about 15 years too early. A gifted shot blocker who otherwise felt most at home on the perimeter, LaFrentz might've been Myles Turner in today's NBA. Instead, he was a bit of a bust as the No. 3 overall pick in the 1998 draft, selected ahead of future Hall of Famers Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter. The Celtics moved him to power forward in 2005, and LaFrentz responded with one of the best shooting seasons of his career, making nearly 40 percent of his 3-pointers and going 5 for 5 in a playoff game vs. the Pacers.

Honorable mentions

Brad Lohaus (whom no one knew what to make of as a 6-11 jump shooter in 1987), Kenny Anderson (speaking of New York City playground legends), and Larry Bird (why the hell not?).

In this edition of our Miller Lite Moments as we celebrate 75 years of Celtics basketball, Larry Bird puts on a show in Portland. Scoring 47 points and finishing with a triple-double while shooting mainly left-handed.
Contact Us