The game is changing and so too is the list of best NBA three-point shooters of all time. However, the name at the top will remain the same for years to come.
Despite the NBA’s reluctance to introduce the three-point shot way back in 1979, it is well and truly accepted as part of the game in 2022.
It took a little while for players and coaches to adopt the shot. Five years after the three-point line was painted on the court, teams averaged only 2.4 three-point attempts per game. The average jumped up to 9.9 per game by the 1993-94 NBA season before a significant spike up to 15.3 per game in 1994-95. Since then, the average three-point shots per game has gone up every season except 2010-11 when it dropped to 18.0 per game from 18.1 per game the season prior.
As it stands, at 34.3 per game to start the 2022-23 season, this will be the first time the year-on-year average has dropped since 2010-11.
The development of the three-point shot has added another element to the game over the years and triggered another rankings debate: Who are the best three-point shooters in NBA history?
Steph Curry & Ray Allen
They’re regarded as the two best three-point shooters in NBA history but Steph Curry is pulling clear at the top. There will be no arguments when it’s all said and done – if those arguments are still occurring in the depths of NBA Twitter on a game-less day.
While the league average appears to be going down this season, Steph Curry is still putting up 12.3 per game – the second most he’s averaged per game throughout his career. He only needs to put up another 28 and he will pass Ray Allen for the most three-point attempts in NBA history with 7,429. The big difference between the two: Curry has made an NBA-high 3,136 of those attempts in 835 games to Allen’s 2,973 made shots in 1,300 games.
Ray Allen is one of the best to ever do it. His shot in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals is one that will be relived on highlight reels for the rest of time. Still, Curry has surpassed Allen in time. Curry’s volume is the best in the business, but to be able to hit the shots he does at 42.7% is what sets him apart in the conversation for best shooter of all time. His volume and efficiency are like nobody else.
“The best shooters shoot the exact same way every single time they look at the basket”
– Steph Curry
— Coach Mac 🏀 (@BballCoachMac) November 3, 2022
Stepbacks, off the dribble, rounding off a screen, a rare open set shot or a bomb from the logo, Curry can knock them down from everywhere and will be for a few years yet.
Right now, he’s on the fourth line of betting for another Most Valuable Player Award at $12.
8 Points In 9 Seconds
Reggie Miller was ahead of his time while playing out all 18 seasons of his career with the Indiana Pacers between 1987 and 2005. Unlike others throughout that period in NBA history, Miller wasn’t afraid to shoot from range. He averaged over five three-point shots per game in eight of ten seasons between 1992 and 2002. Throughout his career, he put up 4.7 three-point shots per game at a more than reasonable 39.5% clip.
Steph Curry has made:
2,562 three-pointers on 5,916 attempts in 715 games.
Reggie Miller made:
2,560 three-pointers on 6,486 attempts in 1,389 games.
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 24, 2021
Miller led the NBA in made three-pointers with 2,560 before Allen, Curry and, more recently, James Harden, passed him on the all-time leader list. A gifted scorer, he will always be remembered for scoring eight points in nine seconds against the New York Knicks to produce one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history.
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He flies along the baseline, peels around the screen, receives a pass, spots up, and drills a three-point shot.
Everybody that saw Kyle Korver in his prime has seen that play drawn up and executed time and time again.
At one stage, he set an NBA record for 127 consecutive regular-season games with a made three-point shot. To further Curry’s claim as the best shooter of all time, the Warriors point guard has since set a new record at 233 games…
Still, despite averaging only 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, the 51st pick in the 2003 NBA Draft is one of the games best ever shooters. He put up 4.6 three-point shots per game and knocked them down at a superb 42.9% and his 53.6% on 2.1 three-point attempts per game in 2009-10 is the best mark in NBA history. As it stands, only Curry, Allen, Harden and Miller have made more shots from beyond the arc.
Korver wasn’t always recognised as a significant threat. He did make the 2015 NBA All-Star team, though. His name will raise eyebrows here, but the numbers back him up. Kyle Korver is one of the best three-point shooters of all time.
Kerr’s Accuracy v Harden’s Volume
Curry has shot more than anybody but his current coach is the most accurate in NBA history.
Steve Kerr ended his career spanning from 1989 to 2003 shooting 45.4% from beyond the arc. Obviously, he played at a time when players weren’t putting up too many shots from deep. He never averaged more than three attempts per game and only 1.8 per game across his career. Still, his accuracy is enough to be in the conversation as one of the best three-point shooters ever.
Should James Harden be here?
He’s one of the best scorers ever. If you look at the list of all-time three-point leaders he is right there at 3rd in makes with 2,613 and 3rd in attempts with 7,236. Harden has certainly not been shy in his shooting. His efficiency, however, is not up there with the rest of them. Where Curry, Allen, Korver and Kerr have all been close to or over 40%, Harden has hit on only 36.1% of his shots from beyond the arc. If we look at the last six seasons in which the NBA average sits around 35.8%, Harden is only slightly better than average. He has only once shot 39% or better (in 2011-12) and his 2022-23 season has started as the worst of his career at 33.3%.
There is an argument for Harden to be among the best shooters of all time due to his volume, but the rate he has hit them is significantly behind those at the top of the list.
Prolific Shooters & Honourable Mentions
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