Ranking the best 3-point shooters in NBA history

Two weeks ago, Stephen Curry capped off an amazing season by hitting his 272nd 3-pointer of the year, breaking Ray Allen’s seven-year-old NBA record. His performance, combined with our hyperbolic here and now journalistic tendencies nearly caused a riot on the Internet.

Since it was not merely good enough to proclaim that Curry is a great shooter – or maybe even the best shooter in the NBA right now – many journalists, bloggers, and fans began announcing that he was one of, if not the greatest shooter in basketball history.

Bailey Deeter from Hoops Habit initially asked the question, “Is Stephen Curry the Greatest 3-Point Shooter of All Time?” In the article, he plainly points out that Curry’s shooting percentages from long distance are far better than anyone else in the conversation. That, combined with this year’s historic feat, clearly declares that Curry is, in fact, the best ever.

There are more than a few flaws in his piece though, chief among them the mistake that he failed to consider context in the overall equation.

Larry Bird 1985 NBA PlayoffsFor instance, Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas were always considered two of the best 3-point shooters of the 1980s. If you were to go back to 1987 and ask coaches the question, “Who terrifies you more than anyone else when he is standing behind the 3-point line?” one of their names would have undoubtedly come up. And yet, when you look at their statistics today, it’s almost laughable that they were at one time considered dead-eye shooters from long-range.

Larry Legend never made more than 100 threes in a single season and Isiah Thomas was a career 29 percent shooter from distance. The context matters tremendously. In the 2012-13 season alone, 10 NBA players made at least 170 threes. Only two players made that many from 1979 to 1994.

Because the 3-point shot has gradually become much more of a weapon as basketball has evolved, it’s simply unfair to compare players from the past with their peers from today while only looking at accumulated totals.  Today’s guards make fewer mid-range jumpers than the NBA players of the past. Does that automatically mean they are worse shooters? Of course not. As the game changes, so does strategy.

It is similarly unfair to compare players based solely off of shooting percentages. For one, it’s much easier to shoot a higher percentage when you are shooting fewer shots – how do you think Steve Kerr was able to shoot better than 50 percent from long range four times in his career? But more importantly, shooting percentages really fail to take into account the type and quality of the shots a player takes.

Nobody on the planet would argue that Thabo Sefolosha is a better three-point shooter than Kevin Durant, even though Sefolosha shoots a slightly higher percentage. Nearly all of Sefolosha’s attempts are of the stand-still, wide-open variety from corners and wings – typically created off of a Durant or Russell Westbrook drive to the basket. Durant, on the other hand, hardly ever gets to take corner threes. Most of his jump shots are taken off of tough, one-on-one possessions, or set plays that involve of him sprinting and curling around picks.

Context matters. Shooting cannot simply be evaluated by looking at numbers.

So then, who is the greatest shooter ever? That question is complicated, so let’s first of all narrow down the list and then later, add a layer of clarity to question.

There have been hundreds of dead-eye 3-point shooters in NBA history, but we have to start somewhere. In order to make the cut on this list, a player either had to:

  • make at least 150 threes in a season three times
  • make at least 200 threes in one season
  • shoot greater than 45 percent from deep at least twice
  • or have met special circumstances that warrant inclusion (he either played before the 3-point line existed or played when it wasn’t as big a part of the game).

A few of the toughest cuts:

  • Michael Jordan (never a great 3-point shooter, even though if you really needed one shot, he’s probably your guy)
  • Kobe Bryant, Dana Barros, Ryan Anderson, and Mike Miller (only made more than 150 twice)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (only made more than 150 once)
  • Mark Price (injuries probably kept him off this list)
  • Sam Perkins and Allan Houston (not quite as good as I remembered)
  • Paul Pierce (always very very good but never great…only made more than 150 in a season once)
  • Kevin Durant (has made at least 125 four straight seasons, and will probably break 150 eventually, but doesn’t yet meet any of the criteria).

After browsing NBA history, I came up with five groups of guys that met the previous criteria.

Group One – Wings that murdered you off the ball

  • Reggie Miller – The greatest shooter coming off of two, three, or four screens in NBA history, he sometimes struggled to create his own shot.
  • Ray Allen – Allen may have barely finished behind Reggie in terms of coming off screens, but he was also a much better creator for himself.
  • Peja Stojakovic – Stojakovic was slower than both Miller and Allen, but his height and quick release made him equally deadly.
  • Glen Rice – Rice was not quite as prolific as any of these guys overall, but he was probably scarier than all of them if he got hot.

Group Two – Wings that could create their own shot

  • Ben Gordon – The former UConn standout has averaged almost two threes per game for his entire career, while shooting better than 40 percent, even though he has only started just a third of his games.
  • Mitch Richmond – Richmond was a thicker, west-coast version of Reggie Miller. But, unfortunately, he rarely played on great teams.
  • Dale Ellis – You know Ellis as the long-time NBA leader in three-pointers made.

Group Three – Point Guards

  • Steve Kerr – Kerr shot better than 50 percent from deep four times and 90 percent from the free throw line six times.
  • Jason Terry – The Jet is actually fourth all-time in three point shooting and has also made a living off of being “Mr. Clutch” for several teams.
  • Chauncey Billups – Billups was a consistently great shooter for 11 years until injuring his Achilles tendon last season.
  • Dell Curry – Stephen’s dad shot at least 40 percent from deep for eight-straight seasons.
  • Steve Nash – Nash is one of the few guys in history to shoot 50/40/90 for a season…and he did it in five straight seasons.
  • Stephen Curry – He’s only just entered the league, but this season alone should earn him a spot on the list.
  • Tim Hardaway – The “creator of the crossover” was also one of the best shooters in the NBA from 1994-98.

Group Four – “Bigs”

  • Steve Novak – The career 43 percent shooter has actually shot better than 47 percent from deep in three separate seasons.
  • Rashard Lewis – Lewis sits eighth on the all-time list, and his seven-year stretch from 2003-10 is one of the best shooting performances in history.

Group Five – Legends that are hard to quantify but must be included

  • Pete Maravich – The Pistol played most of his career before the 3-point line, but studies show that he would have averaged upwards of ten threes a game in his college years if there had been a line…so he has to be included.
  • Jerry West – The Logo is a legendary shooter in NBA circles.
  • Larry Bird – As mentioned before, Larry Legend went to work before the 3-point line became popular, but his resume speaks for itself.
  • Rick Barry – Barry was one of the best 3-point shooters in ABA history, and actually carried his success over to the NBA unlike other ABA bombers.

All 20 guys on this list could be considered fantastic shooters. But who is the best?  There are just too many variables. If we want a guy that can stand in the corner all day without moving and never miss, Larry Bird, Steve Novak, and Dell Curry are probably near the top of the list. If you need a guy to create something for you,  Ben Gordon is much higher than you would ever guess.

*****

So for fun, let’s answer a specific question:

“If your team was down by three points with 10 seconds left, and you had to draw up one play for one guy in history to take the shot, which player would you choose?”

This player would need to be:

  1. a dead-eye three-point shooter.  (Obviously)
  2. able to shoot well in any circumstance. (Off dribble isolation, off dribble pick and roll, curling off a screen, or standing still in the corner)
  3. able to get his shot off over good defense.
  4. clutch.

Immediately, our list is pared considerably.

Steve Novak, Ryan Anderson, Steve Kerr, and Dell Curry wouldn’t be able to create a shot for themselves or anyone else. Fantastic shooters as they may have been, the defense can figure out how to defend these four stand-still shooters.

Dale Ellis, Jason Terry, Glen Rice, Ben Gordon, and Mitch Richmond all just barely made our list in the first place, so let’s throw them out as well.

Tim Hardaway was fantastic, but he never shot 40 percent for an entire year so he’s off too.  That leaves us with the following 10 guys on this list:

  • Reggie Miller
  • Ray Allen
  • Peja Stojakovic
  • Steve Nash
  • Stephen Curry
  • Rashard Lewis
  • Pete Maravich
  • Larry Bird
  • Jerry West
  • Rick Barry

In order to do this as objectively as possible, let’s break them down category by category, rating each on a scale of one to 10 in each category.  At the end, we will count up each player’s point total and wind up with a definitive answer for who you would draw up that game-clinching play for. Of course, you might point out that the rating I will give them will be subjective to me. That may be true, but you can suggest your methods in the comments.

Flat-out shooting

  • 10 – Steve Nash, Larry Bird, and Peja Stojakovic
  • 9 – Ray Allen, and Reggie Miller
  • 8 – Stephen Curry and Rick Barry*
  • 7 – Jerry West and Pete Maravich
  • 6 – Rashard Lewis

Basically, which guy would be the best shooter on wide open, undefended jump shots?

I looked at two things for this – performance in 3-point shoot outs and free throw shooting.  Those are really the only two, definitive and objective pieces of evidence we can use to grade this category.

The top five guys all finished in the top 10 all-time in free throw shooting. Currently, Steve Nash is still the greatest free throw shooter ever, earning him a 10 rating. Bird famously won the first three 3-point shootouts, including his famous “who here is coming second” moment. Anyone that argues against him earning a 10 should stop reading about basketball.

The guy that surprised me the most was Stojakovic.  eja, of course, won back-to-back 3-point shootouts in the early 2000s, making him one of four guys in history to do so. He is also the fourth greatest free throw shooter of all-time according to basketball-reference.com. I find it interesting that the two 6’9″ forwards with nearly identical strokes finished tied for the lead. Maybe we should stop teaching kids how to shoot like Ray Allen and start imitating Larry Legend.

Curry would have earned higher than an eight, but he only shot 80 percent last year from the free throw line. Of course, 2012 was an injury-plagued season for him, but still, none of the six guys ahead of him ever shot so poorly for a season. West, Maravich, and Lewis all shot below 85 percent for their careers. Shooting 81 percent is nothing to be ashamed of, but they all clearly fall a little bit behind the top six in this category.

*Even though Rick Barry goes down as the fourth-best free throw shooter ever, he was penalized for obvious reasons.  If you don’t understand, ask your grandma.

Shooting with a man in his face

  • 10 – Pete Maravich, Larry Bird
  • 9 – Jerry West
  • 8 – Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Stephen Curry
  • 7 – Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash
  • 6 – Rick Barry
  • 5 – Rashard Lewis

Of course, the rest of the categories are more subjective than the first, and this one is no exception. In fact, the mere title of the category is confusing.  Should “making hard shots” really be a valued skill? Wouldn’t it be better if you were so good offensively, you never had to take difficult shots?

That’s why I phrased it the way I did – shooting with a man in your face.  Defensive players always tried to crowd Larry Bird and take away his space, but he was seemingly always able to create a sliver of space for himself and hardly ever get blocked. Jerry West was the original master of this art, and of course, Pete Maravich probably perfected it. It was Maravich that often faced double and triple teams all over the court, yet he was still able to score at will against almost every opponent he faced.

Miller, Allen , and Curry are all tied with eights, even if they accomplished those ratings differently. Curry has one of the quickest releases in NBA history, enabling him to create space in almost no time and hoist up a good look. Miller and Allen, meanwhile, were better than anyone else at sprinting in one direction before catching the ball, planting, and turning to shoot in one seemingly effortless motion. It didn’t really matter who was guarding either guy – the success of the shot typically had to do with whether or not each player executed his form correctly.

Nash, Stojakovic, and Barry were above-average in this department, but definitely not on the level of the top six.

Catch and shoot

  • 10 – Reggie Miller and Ray Allen
  • 9 – Larry Bird and Peja Stojakovic
  • 8 – Stephen Curry and Rashard Lewis
  • 7 – Pete Maravich
  • 6 – Jerry West, Steve Nash, and Rick Barry

It’s not a coincidence that the more recent players seemed to be far better catch and shooter guys than some of the older players.  As the 90s and 2000s progressed, being able to catch the ball and shoot it quickly – as long, fast, and athletic defenses rotated at lightning speed – became much more of a priority.  Of course, nobody in history approach Miller and Allen in this department. Both guys would often spend 20 seconds literally running loops and circles around their bigs before sprinting to the wing and firing a quick three.

Peja and Larry were almost their equals though.  While neither guy was blessed with the above’s quickness, as mentioned before, both guys took advantage of their lightning fast releases in order to get their shots off over more athletic defenders.  Rashard Lewis was just as proficient all those years in Seattle and Orlando as he calmly sat in the corner waiting for his stars to create openings for him.

Curry may be better than an eight, but he doesn’t necessarily showcase that trait as much, considering he often has the ball in his hands. West, Maravich, Nash, and Barry were all more comfortable creating their own shots.

Shooting off a pick

  • 10 – Steve Nash
  • 9 – Ray Allen and Pete Maravich
  • 8 – Stephen Curry
  • 7 – Larry Bird, Jerry West, and Rick Barry
  • 5 – Reggie Miller
  • 4 – Peja Stojakovich and Rashard Lewis

Nash is the clear winner here. The perfecter of shooting off the pick and roll on the Seven Seconds or Less Suns practically has his own YouTube channel on running it to perfection. Nash’s lasting image will probably that of curling around Amare Stoudemire and popping a three in the 0.4 seconds of time that he was open. Part of his effectiveness had to do with his sensational passing ability – if the defense didn’t respect the passing lanes, Nash would pick it apart. Still, shooting off of a screen is a legitimate skill, and it’s completely fair that Nash’s passing ability boosted his shooting in this respect.

Allen and Maravich were also incredibly effective using screens to create open looks. This is an area that Curry is improving at every year, and could even rise up to Nash-esque status eventually. It’s not a coincidence that so many people have encouraged Curry to use Nash as his prototype for improvement.

Stojakovic, Lewis, and Miller ranked pretty low here, mainly because none of the three were ever fantastic ball-handlers. Bird, West, and Barry weren’t fantastic dribblers, but their passing ability elevated them in a similar fashion as Nash.

Shooting off isolation

  • 10 – Pete Maravich
  • 8 – Steve Nash, Jerry West, and Rick Barry
  • 7 – Stephen Curry
  • 6 – Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, and Larry Bird
  • 4 – Rashard Lewis
  • 3 – Peja Stojakovich

Once again, Maravich is in a league of his own. No other player had his combination of intelligence, ball-handling, moves, and shooting all in one. “The Pistol” created moves that we had never seen before – and have seldom seen since.  It didn’t matter how many guys you threw at him, he was always going to beat his man and get the look he wanted.

Nash, West, and Barry were all equally effective in breaking down defenders off the dribble. Ironically, three of the four best players in this category were from the older times – poking holes in the theory that the NBA relies much more on one-on-one and isolation style offenses today.

Curry is better than the rest, but is not quite as effective as Nash because of his slight build and inability to handle much physicality at this point in his career.

Miller, Allen, and Bird all went one-on-one more than people remember, but it definitely wasn’t their strength.

Ability in the Clutch

  • 10 – Larry Bird and Jerry West
  • 9 – Reggie Miller
  • 8 – Ray Allen and Pete Maravich
  • 6 – Rick Barry
  • 5 – Steve Nash and Stephen Curry
  • 4 – Rashard Lewis
  • 2 – Peja Stojakovic

Feel free to argue with these, but I don’t think anyone can really make that strong of a case. Maybe Allen is as clutch as Miller. Maybe Nash deserves to be a six instead of a five. Still, Bird and West are in a class by themselves here.

So how did the rankings end up?

  1. Larry Bird – 52
  2. Pete Maravich – 51
  3. Ray Allen – 50
  4. Jerry West – 48
  5. Reggie Miller – 47
  6. Steve Nash – 47
  7. Stephen Curry – 45
  8. Rick Barry – 42
  9. Peja Stojakovich – 35
  10. Rashard Lewis – 31

Of course, different circumstances would determine which player you would choose. If you had a great big man to run the screen and roll, you might just pick Nash – a guy that finished tied for fifth with Miller to take the shot. If you wanted to clear everyone out and trust your star, the Pistol would no doubt be the guy you wanted. If you had several great bigs to set picks, nobody would be better than Ray Allen.

But I’m pretty satisfied with the champion.  If I only had one shot, and wasn’t sure what was going to happen on that final possession, I couldn’t go wrong with Larry Legend.

Who is the best shooter in NBA history?

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About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.

Comments

  1. Well this list is so incomplete it must have been written by a dimwit. Kobe, Jordan, Allen, Miller.

    • Jon Washburn says:

      For the record, I did include both Allen and Miller. They made the Top Five. Also, Kobe and Jordan both failed to meet the criteria.

      • Not a bad list, Jon. Good reasons and breakdown of all aspects of shooting given and given well. You did omit Fred Brown of Seattle from the 70’s, early 80’s. Downtown Freddie was one of the great shooters.

    • “Incomplete” is an understatement!

      Ever heard of these names? Dennis Scott, Muhamud Abdul Rauf (fka “Chris Jackson”), Michael Adams, Tom Chambers, “Downtown” Freddie Brown, Chuck Person, Alex English, John Paxon, George Gervin, Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson, Terrell Brandon, Chuck Person, Ricky Pierce, Bob Cousy, Reggie Theus, Vinnie Johnson, Kelly Tripucka, Bobby Jones, Drazen Petrovich, Sharunas Marcelonas, or Kiki Vandeweigh?

      I don’t know what their stats were, but I can tell you that (a) your methodology relying on stats is highly flawed, and (b) all of the above were extremely feared from the midrange or deep outside. The greatest “shooters” shouldn’t necessarily be 3-point specialists; they should be players who, with or without range as a consideration, were always threats to expand a defense.

      • Above, I meant to write that the best shooters should be players who were always threats to not only expand a defense but run up points in massive barrages or deliver knockout punches in the clutch.

        • Please add Dan Majerle, Mark Price and Rex Chapman to the list of neglected shooters. Ever seen them play? DEADLY!!

          • No doubt Price belongs. Never seen a better shooter. Majerle and Chapman were more 3 pt streak shooters, though dangerous.

      • Jon Washburn says:

        Mark Price definitely belongs, but his injuries kept him from meeting any of the criteria. I’m ok with adding him to the list though.

  2. Sorry, any list that does not include Bob McAdoo is no list at all. When Marv Albert was announcing a game and someone said that Ray Allen was about the best in NBA history Marv quickly chimed in Bob McAdoo-three scoring titles-how many have the others on the list made-plus Bob made in the stands shots with guys right on top of him

    Mike

  3. leesigh3 says:

    I don’t get why Kevin Durant isn’t on here. He just had one of the best 3-4 shooting seasons of all-time and he’s been in the league longer than Steph Curry,

  4. Jon Washburn says:

    Thanks for the comment. I desperately wanted to include Durant, especially considering he just joined the 50/40/90 club, but if you will notice, he failed to meet any of the required criteria to be included with the great 3-point shooters.
    I think he will put himself in this list eventually, but I had to add some layer of objectivity somewhere.

  5. joe smo says:

    Super Rick! How old is this writer. He proberly never saw a ABA game,Barry did comic book plays Jordon could’nt dream off. In the last seconds of a game his 4 team mates cleared out to the right side, almost leaving the court and Barry would go left ono on one. What about George Lehman’s half court set shots and Darnell Hillman’s and Artis Gilmore’s fro ?

  6. I think Larry Bird was the best 3-point shooters around. GOOD CHOICE. Didn’t watch Barry much wrong era. Watched Bird thou, AWESOME watching him play. That’s when BB was BB

  7. Big beef stu says:

    Jeff Hornacek was a better pure shooter than most all of those listed, stats back it up and he isn’t even mentioned. Curry has good numbers so far but is still young.

    • Yes, Hornacek probably belongs too. He, Miller and Price were best of that era.

      • Jon Washburn says:

        I looked at Jeff Hornacek – he wasn’t nearly as good as any of us remember. He only made more than 90 3-pointers in a season TWICE. For his career, he averaged 0.8 3-pointers a game.
        He DID shoot a high percentage, but he is slightly over-rated because he played in back to back NBA Finals and got a LOT of wide open shots playing with Stockton and Malone.

  8. I dont see how Dirk doesnt make the cut. hes never made more than 150 but, like Bird, he has never shot a lot of 3’s compared to other players.

    His shooting on the Mav’s run to the title was the greatest shooting display I have ever seen.

    • Jon Washburn says:

      Dirk didn’t meet any of the criteria, but I see your point that he was similar to Bird. The bigger problem for me was his 3-point percentage – he has only shot it 38% for his career much lower than anyone realizes.

      • Jon Washburn says:

        *which is much lower… sorry.
        Of course, if this was an article about mid-range shooting, Dirk would be on this list and might even be #1.

  9. Kyle Korver – maybe not on the list, but if you are going to run guys like Perkins and Barros – you gotta throw in Korver who could realistically end up in the Top 5 all-time in 3s made..

    • Jon Washburn says:

      Kyle Korver was an inexcusable oversight on my part. He has actually made more than 180 3-pointers three times in his career. If I could do the list over again, he definitely makes the five groups and may even sneak into tenth place ahead of Rashard Lewis.

  10. I vote Mark Price (as does Steve Kerr) as the best shooter of all time.

  11. Downtown, his 58 point game would’ve been 70+ if they counted 3s

    • Jon Washburn says:

      Good call on Downtown Freddie. Just blatantly forgot about him while searching the dregs of history!

  12. No way dude Dennis Scott aka 3-D should definitely be on this list

    • Chris, Dennis Scott was great for three years. I looked at him very seriously. The problem was that those three years coincided with the shortened 3-point line in the NBA.
      The year he hit 267, many of those shots were simply long twos in today’s game.
      I definitely should have mentioned this in the article…but it was already 3000 words long.
      If you take out even one of those years, Scott doesn’t meet the criteria…but I will agree with you…there weren’t a whole lot of players more terrifying than Dennis Scott behind the 3-point line in 1996!

      • Rick Falk says:

        it didn’t matter where the line was for Dennis Scott – as soon as he crossed half court he was a weapon. As good as all these other guys were and are, if you were playing a game of horse and kept moving back 3 feet at a time Dennis Scott would have smoked everyone on the list.

  13. Where is Drazen Petrovic :D

  14. The Cavs Mark Price!!!

  15. jim murphy says:

    Did you ever see Calvin Murphy play.I guess not.

  16. How about Frank Selvy, Bob Petit, The Iceman Sam Gervin, Sam Jones, Hal Greer etc. go back

  17. ‘you should have included Drazen Petrovic of Portland and New Jersey

  18. Mark L. says:

    Most of the those written here are from either long term memory loss or just from those who only know the most recent players of the day. If any of you saw Lloyd (World) World B Free shoot the basketball – there is no way that he doesn’t belong on the top 5 shooters of all time. Chick Hearn once had a ‘stop Lloyd Free night’ that gave every fan at the LA forum free food if the Lakers could hold him under 50 points. He fouled out with 3 minutes to go with 49 points. He was a guard.
    A dead eye as good as there ever was.

  19. Frank DeLillo says:

    Did everyone forget the Big O, Oscar Robertson?

  20. Dan Majerle for sure, was always a threat from downtown.

  21. Wait, you said the one of the criteria for the list was to ake at least 150 3’s in three different seasons. Earlier in the story you say Larry Bird never made more than 100 3’s, but then you included him in your list. Confused?

  22. Howard M Alperin says:

    i think maybe all the stats should have been formulated from the playoffs and not from the regular season.

  23. Who is Sam Gervin, George’s alter ego????? lol

  24. I haven’t seen anybody mentioned above that legitimately can be argued into the top 5 of this list for long range shooters. McAdoo was a great medium range shooter, as was Bernard King. There were 3 point specialists in the ABA, but they were only good for spurts and not as effective over the course of a full game. For the most part, the writer had a pretty good feel for the players he mentioned, including those left off the final 10. Do think he did not see enough of Pete Maravich however. Pete was a better penetrator and short range shooter. Saw him shoot his team out of too many games to call him a long range sharp shooter. Great pull up bank shot however. My top three are Bird, West and Miller, as they all worked hard to get their shots and often buried them. Allen would be there if he hit more big shots, but he and Miller clearly were the quickest releases, though Bird and West were no slouches there either.

  25. I watched McAdoo and he was great, and nearly unstoppable, but he was not a long range shooter. He deadly at 18 foot and in.

  26. Dennis Scott was always a threat, but most of his career he averaged under 17 points per game (was never the main scorer on his own team); he averaged 39.7% from 3 pt range (only 36% in playoffs) and he shot a pedestrian 41% from the rest of the field. At least in the top 6 or 7 of this list, they all shot much better for a season, long range and in clutch.

  27. Ashby Showalter says:

    Extreamly glad to see Pete Maravich high on this list. Everyone seems to leave him out of the top three point shooters, because he had no three point line. But one of his statitions in college said he would of averaged about 67 ppg with one. Crazy isn’t it?

  28. Cam Newton says:

    I think this article was great! I really enjoyed reading it. Some of the comments from these people are so dumb. Did these people read the article or just go straight to the comment section just to complain? In my opinion Jon you did a great job writing this article. I can tell you spent a lot of time with this. I’ll be looking for more stuff from you in the future. Thanks again!

  29. I have many friends who are blackmen and most of them wouldn’t put Larry Bird in any class / as basketball is a blackmans game. But as we can see and all of us know (who have watched him) he was lights out, he would kill you with the pass or the shot. His fall-away jumper was unstopable, and deadly.

  30. Can’t disagree. Think Nash is the best pure shooter, but no one I would rather have with the ball in his hands at the end of a game than Larry Bird. Nice article and well researched.

  31. Wow, not one mention of Chris Mullen, by anyone

  32. Howard M Alperin says:

    this would be my starting point for the conversation:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Basketball_Association_career_playoff_3-point_scoring_leaders
    what a player did in the PLAYOFFS is what mattered most, in my opinion.

  33. Wasn’t a fan of his per se, but the Spartan Sniper, Steven Smith, had a good run as a premier shooter in the mid 1990’s; but, like many other posters have made particular arguments for this or that player to be included over others… Jon’s top guys are still more difficult to dispute being there than those who others think should be on there.

    To me Rashard Lewis shouldn’t be a top 10 consideration.

  34. ddurham says:

    Wow, I’m sitting here looking at your list. Great shooters every one! But I need 3 points with 20 secs to go, who do I give the ball to! Pistol Pete, I thought you rated him a little low on the catch and shoot.

  35. anybody ever heard of CRAIG HODGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is a joke!

  36. What about Robert Horry and Derek Fisher they have made critical 3 and are the definition of clutch shooter

  37. Michael says:

    Where is Downtown Freddy Brown? List would also need to at least include Louei Dampier from the ABA?

  38. seanandnan says:

    Ask the players themselves, they will all say Reggie Miller or Ray Allen…Larry Bird missed too many big game winners in the Finals to be considered on the list…I still see his corner threes clanging off the rim and his head down while the Lakers go on to win the championship…If it wasn’t for Gerald Henderson stealing the pass from Worthy, the Lakers would have owned the Celtics…And there were many shooters back in the day as feared as Pistol Pete…Lou Hudson for one…I would take Rick Barry over Pistol any day…

  39. Frank: Unfortunately many of the current fans or players were not around yet to see real ballplayers like Oscar, Jerr West or John Havlichek. This was before the 3pt line (which I never approved of), and the big long term contracts of todays game. The three I listed above are original NBA Top Fifty All-Time,and could “shoot the eyes” out of the best defensive players of their time. Not to list any of them is a gross oversight.

  40. RealSlimK says:

    Steph Curry is best.

  41. The Professor says:

    I enjoy all these no name people just throwing random names and not even reading the criteria…acting like they know more than a guy who spends hours on these and has looked up most every stat on these guys…some of you don’t even know how to spell hahaha…Great article!

  42. I think the “criteria” is flawed when Rashard Lewis dominates every category, but Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant can’t even make the list. What about clutch shooting? Lewis is one of the worst playoff performers in NBA history.

  43. Reggie Miller said Drazen Petrovic was the best shooter he ever saw and had the best stroke. Though Drazen didn’t live long enough to qualify for the list. Had he lived he may have been remembered as up there with Jordan, he had all the same skills, the same fanatic drive to win and train, and a better 3pt stroke.

  44. but but but where’s Danny Ainge ??He used to nail a couple every game !

  45. Forgot Drazen Petro!!!

  46. Rashard Lewis better shooter than Dale Ellis was ha laughable

  47. Lucky Al says:

    God Bless. What about Down Town Freddie Brown, Seattle Super Sonics?

  48. flizzle says:

    i just wounder how u leave the man with the most3’s made off the list if dale ellis is not somewhere on that list its a fraud

  49. trebor seyer says:

    remember Dave Debuscherre, Jerry Lucas, or Bill Bradley ?

  50. Larry Bird … hmm of course, this writer is from Indianapolis, IN. Didn’t need to read the article to know who he was going to pick. At the end of the day … Miller’s career accuracy is 39.5%, and Allen’s is 40.0% Larry Bird’s 3 point accuracy was 37.6%.

  51. kentucky boy says:

    Pete Maravich invented modern basketball. He remains peerless.

  52. Hubble Oh-8 says:

    I was going to say Kyle Korver, but someone stole my thunder! Great list by Josh and some of you guys are absolute basketball aficionados! I mean Sadel Threat, Terry Porter, George Lehman, classic guys!

    I agree that Chris Mullin and Danny Ainge have to be on this list, and so should Mike Bibby I feel but I still have one diamond in the rough who was left out, with all respect to the late, great Drazen Petrovic, how can this list be complete without DETLEF SCHREMPH!

  53. Hubble Oh-8 says:

    DETLEF SCHREMPH, the only guy on this list who could shoot 3’s and chew gum at the same time! Also, I think that the guy who said Sedale Threat (I gave him props because I forgot he used to play in the NBA) meant Nick “the quick” Van Exel! Schremph was just too great an all around player to chuck threes unnecessarily.

    Some guys who can’t be on the list, Jordan and Durant only because of the 3 point shooting contest (top two worst performances ever). My man Rex Chapman got some love, I always feared Dell Curry, but even though he had a short career, Tim Legler anybody? 1996 shooting like 50% from downtown. Anyone?

  54. Hubble Oh-8 says:

    Last comment, some guys who should also be there. I’d put Bill Sharman over Cousy. Sam Jones was a great shooter for the old time Celtics. Michael Williams (97 straight free throws, NBA record) Calvin Murphy, and Hornacek was a better shooter who taught Dan Majerle how to shoot threes. Even though he’s a dirty player, where’s Derek Fisher? Hittin’ threes today that’s where! For big men, this one is questionable, but how about Rasheed Wallace? Remember the full courter against Denver? Oh yeah, Kenny “the jet” Smith has to be there! Championship clutch! No love for Hubert Davis, great shooter not a great player.

  55. where the F is Dirk Nowitzki on this list? terr-ble, as chuck would say

  56. What about “Thunder Dan” Majerle…This best I’ve watched growing in the NBA hey day of the 90s!

  57. Jason Simmons says:

    Craig Hodgers…I know should be made mention.

  58. michel says:

    I knew from all your stats where you were going with this. larry Bird #, You said for the final shot you cant go wrong with bird. Maybe you should have asked the Knicks fans of awhile ago what they think of reggie miller. I believe Bird stole a few inbound passes to save the game himself and it wasn’t a 3 pointer that save the game just quick thinking, If you don’t know what i’m speaking of ask your grandma. You guys can’t get over Bird, i hate to bring it up like so many have but if Bird was a player of color he’d be just another star among stars. Sorry for the race card but we have heard the “Bird the legend” far too many years! I don’t believe you can pick the best shooter. They all had their day, it’s an opinion question nothing more. It’s the shooter who got us pumped, the shooter who put us on the edge of the seat.

  59. So many wonderful players, but how about a clutch playoff shooter, Robert Horry. How many times did teams want his “Gunslinger for Hire” attitude at playoff time?

  60. No Calvin Murphy…No Phil Chenier… No Rick Mount…No Daryl Griffin…Hmmmm. Lots of problems with your lists.

  61. Kobe, Miller, Allen Nash and Jordan on the court, 10 seconds left on shot clock and the final shot is passed to?…….Jordan without a doubt. Miller close behind. That’s it.

  62. Many NBA oldtimers would tell stories about how downtown freddie brown would almost touch the out-of-bounds lines in each corner before shooting.

  63. Harold says:

    Jon, your list is good, but you have left one aspect of the game out, hand checking. Stephen Curry is good, not great yet, until he plays when all players can hand check you up and down the court, then we might agree on real shooters. The game has changed throughout the years. Please, don’t be disrespectful to Glen Rice’s numbers and accomplishments. If I’m not mistaken, you did say all-time NBA shooters.

  64. Brandon says:

    I haven’t seen Kiki Vanderwedge on the LIST!!! He was deadly shooter when he played for Denver and Portland. He can shoot the jumper one step inside the 3 point line. Kiki was a SCORER!!! Drazen Petro can shoot anywhere on the floor at The Euro League, World Championships, and Olympics. When he got the playing time in the NBA for New Jersey, he was deadly with his quick release. Injury bound Mark Price was deadly when he was on the floor! The inside and out with Brad Daughtery and Larry Nance to Price.

  65. Mark Puleo says:

    Not ranking Curry as number 1 simply because of the hype and buzz surrounding him this postseason is absolutly ridiculous. Every analytical stat you look at will tell you that he is the greatest shooter of all time. Just because fake fans like you didn’t notice his greatness until this postseason doesn’t mean he’s not the all time greatest. Go look up the analytics right now, Curry then Allen then everyone else. Then maybe you should delete this garbage from the internet… Rashard Lewis?!

  66. Steve D says:

    Chris Ford.

  67. David Moran says:

    This is actually a nicely researched and thought-out piece of work and screening. So many ignorant comments, and still the dislike of white shooting achievement — weird! Interesting about Korver; I would not have included him, else include Mike Miller. Also I would like to see how Paxson ranks (same spot, height, size, stroke, team as BJ, Hodges, Kerr). Jerry Lucas was a major longball shooter. Does Bill Bradley appear? Dana Barros? Interesting about M Richmond.

  68. Before I read the first word other than the title 2 players names flashed through my mind and they were Larry Bird and “Pistol” Pete Maravich so I don’t even care who did or didn’t meet anybodies criteria I think you are spot on with the top 2.

  69. this was an interesting read and there was obviously quite a bit of research done but i have to poke a hole in the idea that “shooting off a pick” is a separate category, at least in the way that the author is using it. in the context of 3-point shooting, shooting off a pick is either catch and shoot or a lightly contested/open 3, and when i took a look at the link that the author references for proof of nash’s shooting off a pick, nash doesn’t take a single 3-point shot of either type. now, in real life, we know that nash often steps back and takes the 3 depending on how his man defends the pick & roll, so this category is unfairly heavily weighted in nash’s favor given that this is the base offense that his team ran for years, much in the same way it would be for john stockton. when referencing allen in this section, this is not the same thing as what nash regularly does, as ray allen (like reggie miller) routinely work(ed) off the ball and are expected to catch and shoot (with or without a hand in their face) off of a series of screens.

    even as i’m typing, i’m realizing that the author may have over thought the idea of categories and stuck a couple of “phantom” ones in to give some shooters more credibility on the list (nash, in particular). at the end of the day, 3-point shooting only comes down to a few things: the ability to catch & shoot quickly, whether it’s an open shot or contested, whether it’s off a screen or in open space, and if it’s in the clutch. with that in mind, this was a lot of analysis to come to a conclusion that statistics probably handle pretty well on their own, if there are numbers to research specific criteria: overall %, contested shot %, % off of picks or screens and % with less than 10 (or 5) seconds in the shot clock (or game clock). find these numbers and remove the qualifier of number of shots in a season, and you might really get to the guts of what this argument should be: who shoots it consistently well in certain scenarios. once you get that, you’ll find out who “the best” really was.

  70. I am going to introduce you to a guy who was not the greatest shooter nor the greatest rebounder, he was far from the fastest guy on the floor but if you wanted a guy on your team when the game or the championship was on the line. Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present to you…BILL RUSSELL!!!!!!

  71. Jeff Hornacek should have been a no brainer. Can’t believe he was over looked!!!! I believe Sir Charles stated that Jeff was the purest shooter he’d ever seen.

  72. Victor Brown says:

    I just came across this article. Very well written, researched and thought out! I found myself nodding in agreement with pretty much everything here. The only players for which I have no point of reference are the older players; Barry, Maravich and West, but I know they had to be special if you included them here! I’ll be the first to admit that I never was a big fan of Larry Bird or the Boston Celtics, but I have to admit that Bird was the man and is the most objective choice from your rankings even though there were some others that I favored from the list. Great job on this article though! I really enjoyed it!

  73. Victor Brown says:

    I just thought about one recent player who I remember seeing play who always seemed to hit clutch shots in big games and that was Robert Horry, especially when he was with the Lakers and then later with the Spurs. I don’t know how his stats add up and he may not even come close to qualifying based on the criteria, but Horry really hit some daggers in some of the big games I saw him play! Thanks again for the article!

  74. BS Yo you need to do some research you didn’t even scratch the surface of some of the NBA best shooters. What happen to Byron Scott, Andrew Tony, Sadel Threat, Dirk Norwinski, Bob MaCadoo, Robert Horry, Danny Angie, BJ Armstrong etc, Next time you write an article read the magazine and stop taking your info from the cover of SI.

  75. Jon Washburn says:

    Byron Scott never made more than 93 3-pointers in a season and shot 37% from deep. Toney’s stats don’t come close. I don’t know who Dirk Norwinski is. Big Shot Bob was clutch but a very average 3-point shooter most of the time. Ainge was close, but didn’t meet criteria. BJ Armstrong shot a high percentage but also failed to meet the criteria. Thanks for playing.

  76. Jon Washburn says:

    First of all, Sedale Threatt made 188 3-pointers in his career while shooting 29% from deep. Maybe you should read the magazine a little more closely…

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