The NBA has changed many times over, but the biggest change was made in the addition of the 3 point shot in the 1979-80 season. The 3 point shot started as a tool to catch teams up and only a handful of players where considered marksman. However, in today’s game the 3 point shot is used more than ever and accounts for over 35% of all shots take in the average NBA game. The list below will demonstrate not just who has hit the most, been the most accurate, or hit them when they counted the most, but a combination of all three.
The “Rifleman” might be number ten on our list, but his firey personality might be first. Chuck Person was one of the most fearless shooters to ever play in the NBA.
He would place in the top ten in three point attempts 6 times and three pointers made 4 times. He finished his career with 1,220 three pointers made, currently 29th all time, and hit a personal best 190 in the 95-96 season. Person earned his nickname by refusing to be beat or bettered by any opponent. His willingness to shoot for shot for shot with anyone would become his trademark.
While his career three point percentage is just 36.2%, Person’s presence and ability to hit the shot when it counted most is what secures his place on our list.
The former Charlotte Hornet was the man with one of the quickest shots in the NBA. Curry would be a lightning rod for his team off the bench, putting together 8 straight seasons shooting over 40% behind the three point line. Curry would finish in the top ten in three point percentage 7 times, and lead the league in the 98-99 season with his career best 47.6%. He would finish his career shooting 40.2% behind the three point line and 25th all time in three pointers made with 1,245.
His personal best was 164 three’s made in the 95-96 season. Curry was one of the games premier shooters, and while he came off the bench his entire career his place on this list is secure as one of the very best three point shooters to ever play in the NBA.
Thunder Dan Majerle was probably the most recognized 3 point shooter in the 90′s. His ability to hit a three from anywhere on the court became not only his trademark, but made teams adjust their defenses to cover him. Majerle currently ranks 16th all time in three pointers made with 1,360, but he defined his career in 3 incredible seasons with the Suns.
Majerle would lead the league in three pointers made and attempted in the 92-93 and 93-94 seasons and then finish 2nd in makes and 3rd in attempts in the 94-95 season with his personal best 199 made and 548 attempts. He would hit 558 three pointers the most in the NBA during that stretch. Continuing his success Majerle would lead the league in playoff 3′s made and attempted in the 92-93 season as well. While most have assumed that his nickname “Thunder” came from his long range three pointers, it was actually a name given to him his rookie season in regards to his dunking ability. Majerle would have less success after he left Phoenix, but remained one of the most feared three point shooters during his time.
He retired with a 35.8% mark behind the line, not a high number in comparison with others on our list, but in the 90′s everyone knew if the Suns had the ball and where down by 3 points or less that it didn’t matter where he would get the ball, he was always a threat to make the big shot.
A shooter who fits the mold of Larry Bird, Stojakovic is a 6’9″ small forward who is one of the games best shooter today. Stojakovic has hit 1,571 three pointers in his career good for 4th all time and 2nd among active players behind Ray Allen. He has placed in the top ten in both 3 pointers made and attempted 4 times, leading the league in makes in the 03-04 season when he hit his career best 240. But Stojakovic is much more than just a gun slinger, his lifetime three point percentage is 40.2% which is the 9th best among active players and he has been in the top ten in percentage and his personal best was 44.1% in the 07-08 season. While most shooters tend to keep their percentage high by taking fewer shots, Stojakovic has proven to more accurate when he take over 500 three pointers in season, shooting 43.6% compared to 38.9% when he doesn’t take over 500.
Stojakovic has also enjoyed success in the NBA 3 Point Contest as well, winning the contest twice in the 01-02 and 02-03 seasons. At his current pace Stojakovic figures to secure his spot in 3rd place for most three pointers made all time, which may not sound like much for a guy who is already 4th, but given the totals of the players in 1st and 2nd, he may have to settle for 3rd.
One of the best players in the NBA today, Nash is a two time MVP and one of the best pure shooters in the game. Nash’s career 3 point percentage is 43.2% good for 5th all time and among active players Nash is 2nd behind Jason Kapono. He has finished in the top ten in percentage 7 times in his career, his best season came in 07-08 when he would finish 2nd in percentage with a 47% and hitting his career high 179 three pointers, he was second to Jason Kapono who only attempted 118 leading many to think the amount of shots needed to qualify may need to be adjusted.
Nash has placed in the top ten in 3′s made twice, but hasn’t broke the top ten in attempts a trait reserved for the games most accurate shooters. Over the past 4 seasons Nash has averaged better than 50% from the field, 90% from the free throw line, and 40% behind the three point line a feat unmatched by anyone in the NBA. Nash has hit 1,360 three pointers so far in his career, currently 16th all time, but given his age and skill Nash figures to be in the top ten in no time
Another one of the games all time great shooters Rice was a 40% lifetime shooter beyond the 3 point line. In the 96-97 season Rice would would not only lead the league in 3 point percentage by shooting an incredible 47% he would also make a career high 207 three pointers. A trait that separates great shooters from good ones, Rice placed in the top ten 6 times in made 3 pointers he would only have 4 seasons in the top ten in attempts.
Rice would also place in the top ten in 3 point percentage 3 times during his career. When Rice retired he was 5th in NBA history with 1,559 3′s made and 11th in attempts with 3,896. Rice was at his best in the 94-95 season when we won the All-Star 3 Point Contest and set a All-Star game record with 24 points in a quarter.
One of the leagues premier shooters and the first NBA player to hit 1,000 3 pointers in a career. Ellis finished in the top ten in 3 pointers made an amazing 11 times during his career, hitting a personal best 196 in the 96-97 season at the age of 37.
He’d also place in the top ten for attempts 8 times, leading the league in the 86-87 season. Proving he was more than your average shooter he would also place in the top ten in three point percentage 7 times, hitting a personal best 47.8% in the 88-89 season and leading the league in the 97-98 with a 46.4%. Ellis would be the first player not named Larry Bird to win the 3 Point Shooting Contest in 88-89 season and would go on to enter 7 contests in all, the most of any player ever. When Dale Ellis retired he was leader in both 3′s made with 1,719, currently still 3rd all time and 3′s attempted with 4,266 currently still 6th all time. H
e was a 40.3% lifetime shooter behind the arc and set the record for most 3′s hit in a single game when he hit 9 three-pointers in on April 20, 1990. (The record has since be surpassed on numerous occasions) Dale Ellis was one of the finest shooters to ever play in the NBA and was the first to hold several career records in the 3 point catagory a true standard setter for those to follow.
When you think of the best shooters of all time you can’t finish a list without Larry Bird. Since Bird’s arrival into the league in 1979 every great shooter has been compared to him.
Bird would be in the top ten for 3′s made in a season 6 times including being number one twice, the first in the 85-86 season and the other the very next year (86-87) when he would hit his career high of 90. Bird would also finish in the top ten in 3 point percentage 8 times with a career high 42.7% in the 84-85 season.
In the 85-86 playoffs Bird would make and take the most 3 pointers for the first and only time in his career. In 1985 the NBA would create a new skills contest during the All-Star weekend, the 3 point shootout. Bird would not only enter but would win the event each of the first 3 years after it’s creation. And in the 1986 event Bird would do what has become a legend in NBA lore when he would boldly guarantee his victory by asking who was going to play for second place before the contest would even begin. Bird would finish his career with 649 three pointers made, currently 122nd in the NBA all time ranks and have a career 3 point percentage of 37.6%.
What many overlook is that over the course of 4 seasons early in Bird’s career (80 thru 83) he would hit only 71 out of 276 three pointers for a meager 25.7%. But Bird’s Celtic’s would also win 2 Championships during those 4 seasons proving that it’s not how many you hit, but when you hit them. The legacy of Larry Bird has been captured in so many forms one could spend countless hours watching his incredible performances. While he is 3rd on our list, Bird is considered to be the best pure shooter in NBA history.
Ray Allen is one of the best shooters in the NBA today with perhaps the most fundamental shooting motion and and may well take his place as the best ever before he is done.
Allen has hit the second most 3 pointers in NBA history with 2,299 while shooting an impressive 39.8% and at his current pace could be #1 in just a few seasons. Allen set the NBA record for 3′s made in a season in the 05-06 season when he hit 269, breaking the record previously held by Dennis Scott. He has been in the top ten in 3′s made and attempted 10 times in his career finishing 1st in three seasons which is an NBA record (01-02, 02-03, and 05-06) and 2nd in three others (99-00, 00-01, and 08-09).
Allen set the NBA record for most 3′s made in a NBA Finals series with 22 in the 2008 series. He also shares two other NBA records in 3 point shooting, the first for 3′s made in a single half with 8 and the other 3′s made in a single NBA Finals game with 7. Allen led the league in play-off 3′s made in the 00-01 and 07-08 seasons also. Allen also won the NBA All-Star 3 Point competition in 2001 and finished the season with his personal best 3 point percentage of 43.4%. Allen already has numerous big time shots to his resume, but one of Allen’s greatest performances came on January 22, 2006 vs. the Suns when he would hit 8 three pointers in the 4th quarter and 2 overtimes including the game winner.
The only downside to his remarkable night, is that it was the same night Kobe Bryant would score 81 points preventing his performance from getting the attention it deserved.
The games best clutch 3 point shooter who ever played is the easy choice for number 1 on our list. Miller is the all time NBA record holder for 3 pointers made with 2,560 and attempted with 6,486 while shooting an amazing 39.5%. Miller accomplished this record through consistency, as he was in the top ten for 3 pointers made and attempted every year of his 15 year career.
His career would also become an NBA record as he hit over 100 three pointers in 15 consecutive seasons. In his career Miller twice lead the league in 3′s made, the first in the 92-93 season the other in the 96-97 season when he hit his career high of 229. Miller would also place in the top ten in 3 point percentage 5 times with a career best .429 in the 97-98 season. But Miller’s penchant for 3′s wasn’t limited to the regular season, as he lead the league in playoff makes in the 97-98 and 99-00 seasons also.
Perhaps the one thing that separates Miller from the other shooters on our list, was his ability to hit the 3 when his team needed it the most. Reggie Miller has almost as many NBA highlights for hitting the big 3 point shot as Micheal Jordan does for dunking. And his truly best moment has become legendary, against the Knicks in game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals Miller would score 8 points in 8.9 seconds including a pair of 3 pointers capping an incredible win for the Pacers.