Rashard Lewis has a problem, something he didn't have to worry about much during his two seasons with the Washington Wizards.
The wide-open 3-point shot. The everyone-is-paying-attention-to- LeBron- Wade- Bosh shot. The shot that players work on endlessly in practice yet come to loathe in games.
"Got to get used to it," the veteran forward said as the Miami Heat continued training camp, "because that's the hardest shot in basketball. I may have to hold it for a couple of seconds, so I can get somebody closing out to me."
To a degree, it sounds preposterous, that in a league loaded with length, athleticism, speed, that an outside shooter would prefer defensive company before launching.
Yet it practically is a universal truth, one the Heat's shooters will have to deal with while LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are attracting attention elsewhere.
"When you're playing a game, you're so used to playing instinctively," Heat forward Shane Battier said, as he snapped his fingers to mimic the typical split-second timing of NBA decisions. "When you get a wide-, wide-open three, you're naked. You have time to think and rationalize, and that's counterintuitive to how we normally play. We normally play instinctively -- time to think and time to react only. But when you have time to think in basketball, calculation often leads to miscalculation."
With so many scorers elsewhere on the court, there is plenty of time for calculation for the Heat's 3-point shooters. As a rookie last season, point guard Norris Cole couldn't believe how open he was at times.
"Sometimes you're surprised that you're that wide open," he said. "Normally, when you shoot shots, you just shoot in repetition. But in a game, when you find yourself just wide open, it kinds of shocks you."
At a time when some say widening the court would open up the game, the Heat created vast expanses for their shooters last season and are expected to so again.
But that also becomes a head game for a newcomer, with center Josh Harrellson, brought in to stretch defenses, admitting it's not always easy to take the 3-pointer with defenders staying home, often double-teaming James, Wade and Bosh.
"It becomes," Harrellson said, "a thought process. 'Oh, I'm this wide open, should I take a dribble for a layup? Should I take one dribble in for a jump shot?' There's a lot of thought that goes into it.
"If you're that wide open, you really don't know what you want to do. A lot of people might think, 'Why don't you shoot a layup, you were wide open?' So there's a lot of different thoughts that go through your head at that time."
For his part, Ray Allen, the NBA's all-time leader in 3-point conversions, has long gotten over such concerns."A shot is a shot, really, for me," the Heat's prime offseason acquisition said. "It's not really just the wide-open shot. It's just really how the ball's delivered to you."
Allen, in fact, said the toughest part of being left open might be the waiting game.
"I think if you're waiting on the 3-point line, that's probably the toughest shot," he said. "You're waiting, you're waiting, you're waiting, and then you have to kind of reposition your feet. That to me is probably the toughest shot, because there's not really a rhythm shot.
"When you catch in a rhythm, you're learning forward. So if you don't get it, you got to make sure you kind of get your momentum going back into that shot."
Yet if you watch Battier, who is used to open shots having previously played with Yao Ming with the Houston Rockets, he consistenly positions himself in the corner in a leaning position, poised for both the wait and the open look.
"I still prefer a wide-open shot versus a contested shot every day of the week, so I'm different," he said. "But there is something to it.
"When you're so wide open, most guys catch the ball, they try to get the seams right, take a breath, and then shoot it. That's not what we practice. We practice catching . . . shooting. Catching . . . shooting."
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