NBA Power Rankings: Ray Allen and the 20 Best Shooting Strokes In the NBA
Ray Allen went into the NBA record books last night.
With his second trey of the game, he passed Reggie Miller and officially became the most prolific three-point shooter in NBA history, with 2,561 career buckets from downtown.
This is a phenomenal individual accomplishment for one of the great gentleman of the game, but it's almost anti-climactic, simply because it's been pretty much a foregone conclusion for a while.
And rest assured, that's a compliment. It's a testament to Allen's consistency and longevity as one of the best shooters in the game.
As a nod to the historic achievement, Bleacher Report thought we'd use the occasion to take a look at the best pure shooters in the NBA today. Will one of these other players be able to take down Allen's record someday? Maybe.
But probably not.
20) Kevin Martin
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Kevin Martin is perennially underappreciated and overlooked, but that doesn't make him any less talented.
The wiry shooter out of Zanesville, Ohio, by way of Western Kentucky has always known how to put the ball in the basket, averaging 23.3 points per game in college. But he's more than just a scorer.
He's developed his game over the years where he can now boast as well-rounded an arsenal as any player in the league. His form may sometimes appear unorthodox, but it renders him no less effective.
His career three-point percentage of .385 is more than respectable, and he's shot better than 40 percent three of the last four seasons, including this one.
19) Danilo Gallinari
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Gallinari is another big man with a sweet stroke.
At just 22 years old in his third season in the NBA, he still has time to refine it further, but the Italian youngster already has the potential to be a force shooting the basketball on any given night.
On opening night last season, he knocked down seven treys, and two games later, he buried eight. Seven other times last year, he hit as many as five in a game.
He's been a bit less consistent from long range this season, but he still has good form, and if he can handle his increased responsibilities and attention from opposing defenses, he'll be lighting it up at the Garden for many years.
18) Chauncey Billups
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You don't earn the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" from being a crappy shooter.
Chauncey Billups' NBA career took a couple of false starts before it really got off the ground, but once it got going, he never looked back.
Landing in Detroit in 2002, he fit in perfectly with the workmanlike attitude of that team, and soon was showing the form that had made him the third overall pick in the 1997 draft.
He's shooting 44.5 percent from beyond the arc this season, and has upped his career percentage to 39 percent. He may be on the tail end of things now at the age of 34, but he can still rise and fire with the best of 'em.
17) Chris Paul
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Chris Paul has improved his shooting every year that he's been in the NBA.
He shot just 28 percent from beyond the arc as a rookie, but that figure went up to 41 percent last season, and it currently stands at 45 percent this season.
And this comes without Paul having the luxury of getting to focus on just being a shooter. He's expected to run the offense, as well.
From what I've heard, he does that other task quite nicely, as well. Paul can knock down shots from anywhere, including the lost art of the mid-range game.
He's the prototypical floor general, and teams would use him as a blueprint if they could create a point guard and a shooter from scratch.
16) Matt Bonner
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When you look at Matt Bonner, "sharpshooter extraordinaire" isn't exactly the description that first comes to your lips.
But then you watch him play, and you realize that this 6'10" New Hampshireite (New Hampshiretonian?) has a gift. He can shoot the lights out of any gym.
He's leading the NBA this season with a nearly 50 percent mark from downtown. Almost half the shots he's attempted in his career have been threes.
He creates a matchup problem for any other big man who has to guard him, forcing his opponent away from the basket and out of his comfort zone. And right into Bonner's comfort zone.
That's his best asset, and the reason he's continued to be an effective backup for San Antonio for the last five years.
15) Daniel Gibson
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Gibson is doing his best to not let people forget about him over in basketball purgatory.
A .427 career shooter from downtown, he's got the eighth best percentage all-time, and the fourth best among active players. A compact 6'2" and 190 pounds, Gibson's stroke is quick and effective, with a lightning-fast release that often catches defenders on their heels.
His increased role in Cleveland's offense this season hasn't hindered his shooting, as he currently sits at 44 percent for the year.
He'd be a good role player on a playoff contender that would be looking for fast offense off the bench, and might be someone to look to be on the move in these next couple of weeks for that reason.
14) Eddie House
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For those who have watched Eddie House play during his 11 years in the NBA, his name has almost become synonymous with two things. Instant offense, and streak shooting.
When he's hot, he's liable to fire up a jump shot from the other side of halfcourt and bury it. When he's off, he'll clank it off the side of the backboard three times in a row. But he has to keep shooting. That's his game. Remember John Starks? Yeah.
Nearly 60 percent of House's field goal attempts this season have come from behind the line, and he's knocked down 44 percent of them. He's the perfect complementary piece in Miami's offense. Want to try to double team LeBron or D-Wade? Leave House open at your own peril.
13) Jason Kapono
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Jason Kapono has struggled the last two seasons, both to find his stroke, and to stay on the court, so he finds himself a bit lower on this list than he might have been in the past.
He still has an impeccable resume for a gunner, however. At UCLA, he was a three-point machine using the shorter college line, burying nearly 45 percent of his treys.
In the NBA, he's led the league in three-point accuracy twice, including in 2006-07 when he shot an astounding .514, the sixth best single-season percentage in NBA history.
Kapono also won the NBA All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shootout two years in a row, in 2007 and 2008.
He's as pure a shooter as they come, and though he's played for five different teams in his eight NBA seasons, he'll always find a home because of his stroke.
12) Kobe Bryant
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Sure, maybe this pick is cliche. Kobe's not one of the best long-range shooters in the game.
But is there anybody else in the game today that you'd rather get the ball to for an open jumper with the game on the line?
"Clutch" is always a tricky quality to define. Does it really exist? Or is it imaginary? With Kobe, I believe you can say definitively that it does, in fact, exist.
He seems to take his game to another level when it really matters. In the fourth quarter, when the Lakers need a big shot, even though everybody and their mother knows the ball is going to Kobe, more often than not, he still finds a way to get the job done.
For everything else he's asked to do on a nightly basis, the fact that Kobe can still knock down about a third of his trifectas is impressive. And beyond his percentage, his form is one you'd mimic if you could.
11) Mike Miller
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Mike Miller has fashioned a solid NBA career for himself out of his spot-up shooting skills.
Not the fastest or most athletic guy, Miller nonetheless has an uncanny knack for finding an open spot on the floor 20 to 25 feet from the basket and letting fly.
He's currently 13th on the active career list for three-pointers made, with 1,275, and 10th in three-point percentage, at .405.
Miller's stroke is fluid and efficient, and while he's been off the court more often than he's been on it this season for the Heat, his motion is like riding a bike: whenever he's back out there, he remembers how to rise and fire.
10) Ben Gordon
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Ben Gordon's luster has faded a bit in the last couple of seasons since he signed with the Detroit Pistons, but he remains a deadly long-range assassin.
He established himself as one of the best pure shooters in the country back in college. During his days at Connecticut, from 2001 to 2004, he shot .423 from long range, and helped the Huskies to a National Championship in 2004 on the back of his sharpshooting.
Since making the transition to the pros, he's kept on launching, and boasts a .402 career three-point percentage.
Beyond that, though, he established a reputation early in his career for being a cold-blooded marksman, frequently knocking down big shots late in games for the Bulls.
Hopefully he can get back on track eventually in Detroit.
9) Dirk Nowitzki
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He might not be the first name that comes to your lips when you think about the game's great shooters, but he belongs in this club.
Nowitzki has broken all the molds of what a seven footer can do in the NBA, and he seems to have become a better shooter with age.
He has topped 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc three times in the last five seasons, and he sits right at 40 percent again so far this season.
He's like Sam Perkins in the way he can sometimes appear almost bored while he buries jumper after jumper. It's such a regular occurrence that it doesn't seem special anymore.
But for someone his size, and especially for someone who's asked to do everything for his team, it is.
8) J.J. Redick
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The most prolific three-point shooter in NCAA history, Redick has kept his stroke hot in the pros.
It's been slow going for him to work his way into the regular rotation in Orlando, but he's been able to gradually chip away because his shot has never left him. It's cliche to say that someone was born to shoot, but it really seems that he was.
That's not to take anything away from the work he's obviously put in throughout his career to get to where he is, but you can tell his natural talents every time he puts one up. His textbook stroke doesn't ever seem to take a night off.
And he's enjoying his best shooting season in the NBA so far, knocking down 41 percent of his shots from deep, and averaging double-figure scoring for the first time. He doesn't do much of anything else, but what he does do, he does well.
7) Kyle Korver
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Nearly 70 percent of Kyle Korver's field goal attempts in college were from beyond the arc, and in the NBA, more than 50 percent of his field goal attempts are from long range.
That's a ridiculous percentage, but it's backed up because it's clearly what he does best. He set a single-season record last year by shooting .536 from three-point range, and is shooting 41 percent for his career.
He's continuously praised by fellow players, teammates and opponents alike, as one of the best shooters in the NBA, and we all know that NBA players don't offer praise for opponents very easily.
Korver's shooting is what has allowed the once-51st pick to stay in the NBA for eight seasons.
6) Peja Stojakovic
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Peja Stojakovic would have ranked much higher on this list at one time in his career, but his game has faded a bit of late.
He can still offer glimpses of why he was the back-to-back winner of the NBA All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shootout, back in 2002 and 2003, when he makes it out onto the court these days, however.
Even this season, when he's played just 11 games combined between New Orleans, Toronto, and Dallas, he's hit 16 of his 42 threes on the year (38 percent).
How prolific of a long-range bomber is he? He's only taken 21 shots on the year that weren't threes. During his time with the Sacramento Kings, he used his outside shooting to average more than 20 points per game four times, and has shot 40 percent from behind the arc for his career.
With the fourth most three-pointers of all-time, Stojakovic's place among the great shooters in NBA history is secure.
5) Michael Redd
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Michael Redd is another player who gets bumped down just a bit because we haven't actually seen him in so long.
He probably would've been second on this list as recently as two years ago, but his last few seasons have been marred by injuries. He's suffered a torn ACL and MCL twice, and has only appeared in 51 games in the last three seasons.
We'll see how he looks if he's actually able to return to action in March. Whatever the case, our memories of his sweet shooting from past seasons can't be erased.
Plus, he's a lefty. I'm a lefty. So there's that.
4) Stephen Curry
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Stephen Curry is in just his second season in the NBA, but he's already firmly established his unlimited range.
Curry was already well known as arguably the best college shooter in the country between 2006 and 2009. During his three seasons at Davidson, he averaged nearly 10 three-point attempts a game, and hit at a .412 clip.
Upon entering the Association, all he's done is more of the same. As the son of the former purveyor of instant offense, Dell Curry, shooting is clearly in his genes.
All Dell did was shoot .402 from beyond the arc for his career, and finish with 1,245 threes over a 16-year career.
Stephen, for his part, fits in perfectly with the Warriors up-tempo style, and seems poised to be one of the league's best shooters for a long time to come.
3) Anthony Morrow
Curry's former teammate in Golden State, Morrow tops the new breed of lethal shooters.
His shot is so pure that it barely looks like he's trying when he puts one up, and he's knocked down an insane percentage during his three seasons in the league.
After leading the NBA as a rookie with a .467 percentage from downtown, he followed that up last year by shooting .456, and this year in New Jersey he's currently at a smoking .439.
That's good enough for a cumulative .455 clip, which is the best three-point shooting percentage in NBA history among players with 250 or more three-pointers made.
That's no small feat, and while it may go down over time, it's still a testament to the ice water in his veins, and is now a large enough sample size to be able to say that this is no fluke.
He really is that good of a shooter.
2) Steve Nash
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Steve Nash often doesn't seem to get enough credit for how good of a shooter he is, because he gets so much attention for the other parts of his game.
His court vision and passing skills are so superlative, that they can be all anyone talks about when it comes to Nash, but look a little deeper, and you'll see a player who is liable to pull the trigger from anywhere on the court, and still never seems to put up a bad shot.
Like Jeff Hornacek, he has an uncanny ability to square himself up on off balance shots, making almost balletic movements in mid-air to find the perfect release point.
He's also as streaky as they come, and when he's hot, watch out. He can carry a team as much with his own offense as with the offense he creates for others.
Need evidence? How about a .431 career three-point percentage, good for seventh best all-time, and third best among active players. Add to that 1,541 threes, 12th all-time and seventh active.
But Nash also gets extra credit for being the opposite of one-dimensional. He's got a great mid-range shot as well.
1) Ray Allen
Ray Allen has carried the label of the purest shooter in the league ever since Reggie Miller hung 'em up for the last time in 2005.
The shoe fits. Allen is so silky smooth when he lines one up, it's like poetry in motion. How many countless hours have high school and college coaches around the country spent over the last 15 years using game tape of Allen as an example for their players of how to shoot?
He clearly tops the list of active players, not just because of his career total, but because of his beautiful form, his tireless work ethic, and his efficient stroke, in which there doesn't seem to be any wasted motion whatsoever.
He's already squared up when he receives the ball, he's on balance as rises and fires, and he releases his shot so quickly, it's almost impossible to defend.
Like Kareem's sky hook, he's made the three-pointer so much a signature, that it's almost impossible to separate the two.
When you think of Allen, you think of three-pointers and great shooting. When you think of great shooting, you immediately think of Allen.
If you don't, maybe you should watch some more of his game tape.