Gradey Dick is the NBA’s next great movement shooter

The Raptors found a special shooter.

I love wide-open threes. We all do. We know players shoot much better when they’re unguarded, and the goal of virtually every offense in the NBA is to create layups by any means necessary, and to create wide-open, high value jumpers for good shooters. Sometimes coaches can concoct (say that three times fast) structure for offenses that rely on well timed sequences by the players to create wide-open looks, but mostly teams are relying on players to get to dangerous spots on the floor to bend the defense out of shape and to find open players with the pass. Superstars create the best looks the most often, and the Raptors will be looking to Scottie Barnes to carry that load more than anyone else going forward.

However, what if they don’t want to be over reliant on him? What if they’re looking to avoid the heliocentric, Luka-ification/Harden-ification of an offense? What if they don’t want to waste time on the clock or dribbles? Even more to this point, what if you don’t want your shooters getting run off the line in the playoffs? What if you want to guarantee volume and efficiency (as much as anyone can, I suppose)?

Enter, Gradey Dick.

I wanted to look further than the advanced stats on nba dot com — which limits us to catch-and-shoot, pullup, and varying info around dribbles used and closest defender — and find how many shots Dick took that emulated what we’ve seen from fantastic movement shooters of the past and present.

The results? Well, the Raptors may have one of the NBA’s best movement shooters going forward.

For this, I had to separate Gradey’s season into two parts:

  1. The start (20 games) where nothing went right and everyone worried about what was happening
  2. The second half (40 games), after Gradey had begun a more intensive strength training program, had spent time in the G-League, and had joined the Raptors rotation for consistent minutes regardless of results.

The first part of Gradey’s season showcased a failure to reward a lot of great off-ball movement with shot-making. You’d see him perfectly form up to a drive — be that a lift in the pick n’ roll, a semi-circle cut behind a drive, a Danny Green cut on the baseline, whatever you’d like — and quite frankly, miss the easy shots falling into his hands.

Through his first 20 games, Gradey shot 24-percent from downtown, 25.6-percent on catch-and-shoot triples, and 18.5-percent on wide-open threes. Horrific. Terrible. In that time span, he shot 3/17 on his movement threes and 2/6 on movement mid-range jumpers. Basically, one of the best shooters of their draft (the best, I reckon) was completely failing to produce with their standout skillset.

“I had been waiting to see if he’d hit the shots at the NBA level, just to see if guys would have to spend the energy chasing him around. Now, I’m waiting to see how he fills out his body to add that aspect to getting open. Grinding for space and winning sometimes. Because, if he’s as good as I think he’ll be, then I think a lot of smaller players will have to chase him around. Other 6’7-6’8 guys don’t want to be pursuing a movement shooter all the time. If Gradey puts on weight, he’ll be able to punish either type of defender.”

Eastern Conference Team Scout

Okay, let’s talk about the sexy stats I went looking for.

Simply put, Gradey Dick was sublime as a movement shooter once he hit the rotation. Over the last 40 games of his season, he was 23-51 (45%) on movement threes, and 22-51 (43%) on movement middies. I’ve neatly compiled all the makes, let’s enjoy the watch and then talk about it.

Watching this, it’s really easy to see how a 2-man action between Gradey & whoever can help give countless possessions a second life. Sprinting up the floor, 27 feet away, into a DHO for a bomb – that’s elite shot-making. Flaring away from plays where stars are getting crowded. Using the triple threat and pump to shake loose against out of control closeouts. Sprinting into the corner to make BLOB’s more dangerous.

It’s really easy to see a future where Gradey punishes countless split-action coverages – whether teams climb over top and leave themselves susceptible to the check down pass, or if they gear up on a basket cutting Scottie Barnes to leave Gradey open.

A shooter doesn’t just make shots. A shooter pulls bigs out past the top of the key. A shooter pulls help defenders within a step of the 3-point line. A shooter doesn’t let you relax one pass away above the break. A movement shooter keeps applying the pressure as defense ramps up.

Can fade in all directions. Lots of different footwork displayed. Sprints through actions. Beats contests. Great stuff.

In the mid-range we’re obviously seeing Dick flow out of pin-downs and stagger sets — very deliberate actions for a shooter — and he’s canning some of the catch and shoot looks, while moving. In addition to that, he’s able to take the plays in stride, read how his defenders are playing him and use snake dribbles, pump fakes, and jab steps (whatever you’d like, really) to break free into more comfortable pockets on the floor. He’s a jump shooter. He jumps. He’s tall, he rises up over guys in tight spaces, and one of the hallmarks of his Kansas play was the passing against hard contests at the level of the screen isn’t totally present for the Raptors, but will probably show up next season.

Teams aren’t totally losing their minds to track Dick off ball — and the best way to deter him is jamming him at the line and rerouting him — but there’s a lot of difficult attempts here, and he’s more than comfortable getting these types of shots up. Shots that move the chains. Shots that can stop runs. Shots that will inevitably get better as he improves, and shots that will warp coverages for years to come.


I know the Raptors have ideas and plans about how Gradey can grow his on ball game — and we see a bit of it in the pullup repertoire + the empty-side reads — but it’s hard not to just focus on and be excited for how much value they can glean from sending him sprinting around the court. The Raptors have been pretty intentional about where they place IQ & Gradey to manipulate weak-side tags for Barnes & Barrett drives, and they can ramp that kind of stuff way up next season. It’s as simple as running Gradey off a stagger action, allowing him to hunt for a shot or automatic to a handoff and filter to the weak-side. You spend 4 seconds of the shot clock to give a great shooter a look and it immediately pivots to a pick n’ roll with good floor balance.

Tre always knew, it seems. Even before the Raptors drafted Gradey.

After a rookie season that started out quite nightmarish for Gradey & the Raptors, his ceiling has become pretty clear. Who better to pair with your elite-feel, elite-passing wing than a hyper-vigilant movement shooter? There’s lots of reads on the Raptors table, and they’re building a team of voracious page-flippers.

Here’s a video of every jumper Gradey made this season.

There’s so much more to look into, and so many ways for Gradey to grow. However, jumping into this major skill of his? It’s hard not to come away enthused.

Have a blessed day.