Underappreciated Players of this Millennium – Peja Stojakovic

Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images

Underappreciated Players of this Millennium – Peja Stojakovic


I recently overheard a conversation about who the best shooter in NBA history was. I heard them discuss Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry, Larry Bird and more, but none of them named Peja Stojakovic. That’s when I knew that he has to be featured in this series.
Peja needs to be in this group of players, as he is one of the best shooters of all time.


Sacramento Kings Era

Stojaković was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round (14th overall pick) of the 1996 NBA Draft while playing in Greece. He continued to play there until the Kings signed him prior to the 1998–99 NBA season.
After two seasons on the bench with Sacramento, he had a breakthrough season in 2000–01. He became a starter and finished second in the MIP voting, averaging 20.4 points per game (11.9 PPG the year before). After this season, he continued to play on an allstar level for many years. In 2001-02 he was named an Allstar for the first time in his career and had  season averages of 21.2 PPG and 5.3 Rebounds per game. His scoring average dropped slightly to 19.2 ppg in 2002–03, but he played again in the All-Star Game. In both of his first Allstar appearances, he also won the 3 point contest making him the first European-born player to win one of the All-Star Weekend competitions.
Teammate Anthony Peeler once said: “Peja is so good now that he doesn’t even look at the guy guarding him. He just lets it fly.”

The 2003-04 season statistically was the best season of Peja’s NBA career. He finished the year averaging 24.2 PPG (2nd best in the league that year), 6.3 REB and 1.3 STL while shooting 48% from the field, 43.3% from three and 92.7% from the line, finishing fourth in MVP voting and being  voted on to the All-NBA 2nd Team. He also led the NBA in free-throw percentage and three-pointers made for the season (240). He still continued to play on a high level for the Kings in the following seasons, although he had to miss time again and again because of injuries.

In January 2006 he was traded to the Pacers where he averaged 19.5 PPG in 40 games before being traded again to start the 2006-07 season for the New Orleans Hornets.
On November 14, 2006, Stojaković scored 42 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, and became the first player in NBA history to open a game with 20 straight points for his team.
He played with the Hornets until the 2010-11 season but was injured a lot and wasn’t able to play as good as he did with the Kings.


Mavericks Era and Championship

On January 24, 2011 he signed a deal with the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks ended up winning the NBA Championship that year, with Stojaković averaging 7.1 points per game during the Mavericks’ playoff run. Stojaković scored more than 20 points in two different playoff games for the Mavericks and was a key guy off the bench for the Mavericks’ championship.



After winning the championship, Stojaković announced his retirement, because of ongoing back and neck problems that hindered his play later in his career.

He was one of the top shooters in the game, an excellent free throw shooter with excellent ball handling ability. Defensively he was just average always giving solid effort, but lacking the foot speed to having been a lock down defender.

His career averages of 17 PPG / 4.7 REB / 1.8 AST / 45% FG / 40.1% 3PT / 89.5% FG are pretty damn good, especially his shooting percentages.
He was a NBA All-Star in 2002, 2003, 2004, won back to back 3 point contests in 2002 and 2003, was on the ALL NBA SECOND TEAM in 2004, 4th in NBA history in career free-throw percentage at .895, 9th in NBA history in 3-pointers made with 1.760, 7th in NBA playoff history in free-throw percentage at .900, 11th in NBA history in 3-pointers attempted with 4.392,  NBA Champion in 2011 and FIBA WORLD CHAMPION in 2002.

I will always remember him as part of the awesome Kings team back in the day who would have deserved to win a championship. White Chocolate, Divac, C-Webb, Peja and a bit later Bibby. The Sacramento arena had the loudest crowd back in the early 2000’s (eight straight postseason appearances) and the team was incredibly fun to watch.

Sacramento retired Peja’s jersey in 2014, which was a well-deserved honor considering all he meant to those Kings teams.


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