The Whiteboard: Which NBA players could eventually join the 50-40-90 club?

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The 50-40-90 season is one of the rarest achievements in the NBA record books. It requires a player to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free-throw line, while also making a minimum number of attempts from each zone. It’s the ultimate achievement in scoring efficiency, and it’s accomplished just 13 times by just nine different players over the last 42 seasons.

Even with a few games left on the schedule, it’s clear we won’t have anyone hit those benchmarks this year. But we do have nine players who are reasonably close, one of whom (Zach LaVine) is 27, and five more who are 26 or younger. Most importantly, four of these players are 23 or younger which means we’re looking at a relatively deep pool of very young players who could eventually pull it off.

Which young NBA players could eventually manage a 50-40-90 season?

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks — Young is still months away from his 24th birthday and is hitting career-highs in field goal percentage (45.9), 3-point percentage (38.3) and free-throw percentage (90.3). Young has always been a fantastic free-throw shooter (87.2 percent for his career) and that is often the hardest threshold to achieve. However, Young may actually be the most unlikely of this group to ever hit 50-40-90. Because he carries such a large offensive load for the Atlanta Hawks he often ends up taking much more difficult shots — he’s attempted more than 300 more shots this season than any of the other eight players who were in sniffing distance of 50-40-90 this year. With the level of difficulty ratcheted up, Young’s ability to hit all three benchmarks seems the most fragile, even if he may be the most skilled.

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers — Haliburton just turned 22 and has been remarkably efficient both beginning the season with the Sacramento Kings and after being traded to the Pacers. For the season he’s shooting 46.8 percent from the field, 41.2 percent on 3-pointers and 83.8 percent from the free-throw line. He’s been much better inside the arc since being traded and his field goal percentage with the Pacers has hit 49.1 percent. However, he’d need to get quite a bit better from the free-throw line to really be close. He’s made 150-of-179 free throws this season but he’d need to have hit 162 to clear 90 percent.

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers — That Maxey is in this conversation is somewhat remarkable. He made just 29.2 percent of his 3-pointers in his lone season at Kentucky and just 30.1 percent as a rookie last year. He’s made 41.7 percent this season and even though there was always an assumption that he could be a much better shooter than he had shown early in his career, regularly clearing 40 percent from distance over the next few years may be out of his reach. However, he’s always been an excellent finisher and free-throw shooter so clearing 50 percent from the field and 90 percent from the line seem like more solid possibilities — he’s at 47.9 percent and 86.0 percent, respectively, so far this year.

Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies — Bane has been a revelation for the Grizzlies this season, averaging 18.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on 46.0/43.0/89.8 shooting splits. Across his two seasons, Bane has now made 43.1 percent of 780 3-point attempts and 87.8 of 196 free-throw attempts. He has established that he’s an elite shooter from beyond the arc and from the free-throw line but the challenge for him is going to be getting his overall field goal percentage above 50.0. He’s come a long way as a self-creator this season and his 2-point percentage only dropped slightly (from 51.3 to 48.8) despite nearly doubling his attempts per 36 minutes. He’s made 43.3 percent of his pull-up 2s this season and 45.9 percent off drives. He can continue to push that number around the basket on self-created attempts he may have the best chance of anyone in this group to make history.

Other NBA stories:

A double-dose of The Long Two is coming your way this week. Yesterday, Ben Ladner shared the first half of his NBA Awards ballot, including All-Rookie team, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved and Sixth Man of the Year. Check back Thursday for everything else.

Bold predictions for the NBA Playoffs, including the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks both bowing out early?

The most interesting pieces of each playoff bracket right now are reversed — the top of the East and the bottom of the West.

The story of why Brad Miller first started rocking cornrows is even better than you could imagine.

The Cleveland Cavaliers might have found a real keeper in Lamar Stevens.

Two important takeaways from this Kevin Love interview — he loves the idea of LeBron returning to finish his career in Cleveland and most of the roster from the 2016 championship team still has a group text. Any chance Kyrie Irving is on that thread?

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