A relatively unknown 19-year-old playing in Greece became the greatest shooter in Sacramento Kings history. Predrag aka Peja Stojakovic, was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in what may be the second-best draft class ever, and that’s where his legacy began. The sure-shooter was selected as the 14th pick when many analysts and Kings fans ridiculed the decision, thinking John Wallace, who shined in his four years at Syracuse, was the best option for the team.
In what was the start of Geoff Petrie‘s legacy with the Kings and the beginning of Sacramento’s ascension, Stojakovic would remain in Greece for two years joining the Kings in 1998. Stojakovic would play minimal minutes behind Corliss Williamson for the most part in his first two years before shooting onto the scene in 2000, when Williamson was traded for Doug Christie, averaging 20 points per-game for the Kings.
From there, Peja took the role of starting small forward for the “Greatest Show on Court” Kings where his off-the-screen shooting and passing capability made him a lethal threat alongside the likes of Jason Williams, Christie, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac, who took over as mentor of Stojakovic in 1998 when he signed with Sacramento.
With Divac as role model and fellow Serbian, Stojakovic’s comfortability and confidence boosted year by year, as he flourished in his shooting role. A career .401% three-point shooter, which ranks him 36th in NBA history, his effortless, unorthodox step-back shot along with his 6’10” frame made him all but unstoppable if given the slightest bit of room. His lack of one-on-one capability was overshadowed by his off-the-ball movement which rewarded him from a team of passers, from the point-guard position to center.
With 1760 three-pointers made,the quintessential shooter is ninth on the all-time NBA list, but if you dig a little deeper, you see Stojakovic’s true efficiency from beyond the arc. In the three-pointers made category, according to Basketball Reference, of the top-10, Peja has the least played games, at 804, while the second-least games played is Jamal Crawford at 980. With Crawford still in the league, if he remains healthy and plays in 20 more games, he’ll leave Peja as the only player on the top-10 list to not play in over 1000 games.
Peja is second on the list at 3P-per-game, making 2.2, only behind Jesus Shuttlesworth himself, Ray Allen who hit 2.3. However, when it comes to percentage, Peja (.4007) edges out Allen (.4002), out of the eligible top-10, for the top-spot. Reggie MIller comes in third with an average of about .395%.
So is it fair to claim that Peja is the best shooter of all time? Realistically, yes. However, due to injuries to his foot, back, neck and knee later in his career, Peja was never able to see the same success he had in Sacramento.
Stojakovic, a three-time all-star and two-time 3-point shootout champ finished his Sacramento career at the top of many Kings lists.
Stojakovic also played for the Indiana Pacers, whom the Kings traded him to, for the New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks, the team which he won his championship ring with in 2011.
Peja will be remembered tonight in Sacramento as his #16 jersey is retired by the Kings. Thanks for all the memories!