There are still more than four months left in the regular season, but there's a better-than-average chance that Nets rookie forward Cory Jefferson has already locked up "Worst Shot of the Year" honors thanks to an airballed three-pointer that wound up well, well short of the rim.
Chicago's 105-80 road victory over Brooklyn on Wednesday produced a blooper so unfortunate that it seems destined for a prime spot on TNT commentator's Shaquille O'Neal's "Shaqtin' a Fool" segment. Get ready to see this thing looping endlessly on lowlight reels for years to come.
With Chicago leading Brooklyn 77-68 less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Jarrett Jack attacked off the dribble before kicking the ball out to Jefferson at the left angle. The 6-foot-9 Jefferson found himself with space to work, so he slowly got into a shooting motion -- perhaps a little too slowly. Jefferson's hesitant approach resulted in a shot that came out of his hands way too low. Way. Too. Low.
During its arc, the ball was rim-level when it was roughly equal with the edge of the protected circle. It didn't appear to cross through the rim's vertical plane until it was well below the bottom of the net. The ball actually landed inbounds before finally carrying into the baseline photographers for the change of possession. The airball was off by so much that the Barclays Center crowd gasped in horror.
"Did the goal move? My goodness," color commentator Stacey King deadpanned during the CSN Chicago broadcast. "Put that roll back in the oven, baby. Oh my goodness. It's not ready to come out."
Brooklyn's television crew, meanwhile, tried its best to cover for Jefferson.
"I think that was a pass," said YES Network color commentator Donny Marshall. "I'm going to go out and get the young fella's back. I think he got up in the air, thought about shooting it ... and then Jarrett Jack wasn't turned and looking the right way."
There are at least three problems with Marshall's theory. First: Jefferson completed his shooting motion all the way through with his eyes trained on the basket, he never looked at any of his teammates, and he tossed his head back in disbelief once he realized what hat happened. In other words, he acted exactly like a guy who had just hoisted up a dead duck. Second: Jack was covered and not in any type of position to receive a pass. Third: a courtside microphone picked up someone, most likely Jefferson, yelling out "Short!" right after the shot's release.
Although Jefferson has yet to hit a three-pointer in his five attempts over nine NBA games, this wasn't a case of a totally unqualified big guy hoisting with no regard for human life. Jefferson, the last player taken in the second round of the 2014 draft, was actually a 34 percent three-point shooter during his four years at Baylor. In fact, one of his YouTube highlight reels even sells him as an "athletic big man with NBA three-point range."
Jefferson finished with four points (on 2-for-6 shooting) and four rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. Deron Williams scored a team-high 17 points (on 5-for-15 shooting) and added five assists in the loss.
Chicago improved to 13-8. Brooklyn fell to 8-12.