Unappreciated: Dennis Scott – One Of The Greatest Shooters Ever
If you are 20 and under, you probably only know Dennis Scott as the funny, big-boned NBATV analyst or co-host of the Shaqtin’ a Fool awards.
If you are in your late 20s or early 30s, you probably also know Dennis Scott as a former NBA player.
If you are in your mid 30s, you probably remember Dennis Scott as one of the league’s best 3-point shooters and the first player to connect on 11 3-pointers in a game (yeah, yeah, the line was 9 inches shorter but most of his 3s were an inch behind the normal line with Stacey Augmon or Steve Smith in his face).
If you are in your 40s, you probably remember Dennis Scott as arguably the greatest 3-point shooter in NCAA history and 1/3 of Georgia Tech’s “Lethal Weapon” team with Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver.
If you are older and were living in Virginia in the 80s or followed high school basketball when nobody else was, you probably remember Dennis Scott as the best player in the nation putting up 22 points, 13 boards, 8 assists and 3 blocks a game on one of the top 3 teams in the nation.
If you are a 39-year old basketball junkie who grew up in Titusville, Florida, you probably remember NBA lottery pick Dennis Scott as 3D and a member of the 90’s “What if Penny & Shaq stayed together” Orlando Magic. You might also remember barbershop stories of Dennis rolling through the small town of Titusville, pulling up to parks with Public Enemy blasting out of his truck and then taking 3-pointers from the grass or benches near the courts.
If it wasn’t evident enough, I’m that 39-year old from Titusville, who never missed an Orlando Magic game on the Sunshine Network. I’m that Orlando Magic fan, who knew Dennis Scott had a career in broadcasting when I saw him on “The Highlight Zone” and “The Dennis Scott Show” on the local Central Florida channels. I’m that Orlando Magic fan, who cried when the should-have-been-a-dynasty Magic team – Dennis, his best-friend Shaq, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson and a bench that would often fail to score 10 points in a game – collapsed in the 1995 NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets.
In the past couple of years, mainly because of a 30 for 30 special, that 90’s Orlando Magic team has been given a lot of attention, but the focus is always on the two All-Star and the perception is the team was Shaq, Penny and just a few role players. Granted, they were role players, and I can say the same about Nick Anderson and Horace Grant, but I think it’s a shame Dennis Scott’s basketball career isn’t more recognized; 3D wasn’t just a great 3-point shooter in the NBA, he’s arguably “the first 3-point shooter in the NBA (shout out to Michael Adams and Dale Ellis because those 2 unappreciated shooters were in the league hitting 3s before 3D)”
“Rick Kamla, who I work with over at NBATV, calls me ‘The Pioneer,'” Scott said. “At the time, I was saying, ‘I didn’t want that over my head. I wasn’t the first person to make a 3-point shot.’
“He said, “No you weren’t, but you were the first person to make the 3-point shot relevant.” After I thought about it, I was like, ‘You were kind of right. When you put it that way, I didn’t think of it that way.’
“When I look back and when talk to Coach [Bobby] Cremins in college, first day of practice, come down, it’s 3-on-2, fast break, I stop at 24 feet and let it fly, he goes, ‘What are you doing? Oh, good shot.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ At first, I didn’t know what you were doing. Now that you can make it, and you keep making it, he made it part of his fast break.
“Now you see guys in college and the NBA, we call it the rim run, either the power forward or center runs straight to the rim, the defense sucks in, you see other shooters fade out and [the point guard] kicks it. Every team now is looking for a guy or two who can stretch the defense. Now looking back, I guess I was kind of because most coaches didn’t teach it in the late 80s and early 90s. But now coaches are teaching it.”
Back in 1996, when Dennis Scott scored 35 points and connected on 11 of 17 3-pointers – breaking the previous NBA record of 10 held by Joe Dumars, George McCloud and Brian Shaw, who ironically got the assist on Scott’s 3 that broke the record – teams were only averaging about 15 3-point attempts a game, so when a player connected on 5+ 3s in a single game, it stood out. And 5 was routine for Scott, which is why he stood out. Just a month before his career-night, during a 15 day stretch, Scott had 3 games with 8 3s and shot over 50+% in all 3. He also had 3 games of 5+ during that stretch and began that season with a 7 of 13 from downtown performance. Yes, those performances did occur with the shorter line but his 8 of 12 performance (38pts) in 1992 and 9 of 19 performance (41pts) in 93 were not.
Dennis also had a pretty impressive showing in the 1996 NBA 3-point shootout. He lost to Tim Legler but posted back-to-back rounds of 19 (to the delight of Penny and Shaq).
I’m not going to tell you that 3D was an underrated all-around player and I’m definitely not going to say he could play defense (some used to joke his nickname was 3D because his D was rated a 3 out of 10) but he did seem to have a knack for finding Shaq and Penny on fastbreaks and probably averaged 1-2 lobs with Shaq a game. And every time Shaq caught one of those lobs from his friend, the PA announcer would yell, “sssslllaaaaammm for Shaq!l” and that was music to my ears, just like hearing, “thhhrrrrreeeeeee for D Scott!”
So, here we are in 2016. Scott’s records for 3s in a game and in a season have been broken multiple times as players and teams routinely jack up 30 3s a game, and the majority of people watching Scott crack funny jokes, while talking about the league’s best shooters on NBATV, have no idea they are looking at arguably one of the best high school players ever, the best 3-pointer in NCAA history and “The Original NBA 3-Point Threat.”