Speed of release sets Webster apart

Breakers guard Corey Webster. Photo: Getty Images
Breakers guard Corey Webster. Photo: Getty Images
Corey Webster has been bought out of his New Zealand Breakers contract and is off to China. The Kiwi guard has ridden a wave of hype this year. Jeff Cheshire looks at what makes him so good, and what has held him back. 

Pros

Webster’s scoring ability is elite.

He has a deadly shot, both off the dribble and the catch.

But it is his ability to create those shots for himself that sets him apart.

Key to it is the speed of his shot release.

The time it takes him to complete his shooting action is faster than anyone in New Zealand.

That allows him to get quality shots off in less space — which in essence means shots that are not open for others are open for him.

He knows how to create an advantage against his defender.

He is superb at getting just in front of a defender’s hip and riding them to hold them off and prevent them contesting his shot.

Many of his lay-ups come in the same manner.

He is balanced and smooth as well, which means he can stop on a dime and shoot from anywhere.

That allows him to be the type of player you can throw the ball to and tell him to get a bucket.

And he can do it at almost any level, as he showed at the World Cup in September.

New Zealand has had very few of those in its history.

Cons

Size and athleticism hold him back.

Hip injuries often restrict lateral movement — the biggest key to playing quality defence.

A hip injury, which required surgery in 2017, seems to have hampered him in recent years.

Whether he can stay in front of the sport’s best athletes is a question.

In the post, he struggles defensively as well.

As a 1.88m shooting guard he often finding himself guarding bigger and stronger players.

That is something teams have looked to exploit.

Those disadvantages hurt him at the very top level.

In China he will be fine — the money may be a step up, but the quality of basketball in the ANBL is higher.

His offensive decision-making can be questionable at times, becoming too individual.

He has had off-court issues too and it is hard to ignore that he has played most his best basketball outside of New Zealand.

At the past two World Cups he has been phenomenal and he had brilliant stints in Israel and China.

But the Breakers have only seen glimpses of that.

How good is he?

It would not be a surprise if Webster stars in China.

He could come back and star for the Breakers and Tall Blacks as well.

There is no doubt he has enormous talent and is capable of being the best player in the NBL.

But at 31, age is not on his side to make the NBA.

His role would also be a factor.

Most teams have two or three primary scorers.

The other players take the shots that come to them, but are more involved in setting up the stars.

In the NBA, Webster would be unlikely to play the scoring role.

He is probably better than many players in the NBA at doing that.

But slotting in and playing a role requiring a different skill set is going to take him out of what he does well.


 

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