Ray Allen recently broke Reggie Miller's all-time three-point shots made record, firmly cementing himself as one of the best shooters to ever play.
It's been said that a pure shooting stroke is not something that can be taught; rather the great shooters come out of the womb with perfect form.
With the advent of the three-point line in the 1979-80 season, shooters were able to separate themselves from the pack by stepping out and drilling long-range shots. Prior to that, great shooters stood apart at the free-throw line, where their ability was on full display.
It stands to reason that a player who was able to shoot 88 percent from the line in the '60s or '70s would have been able to hit three-pointers had the shot been an option.
This makes comparing shooting percentages across generations difficult, however. Surely the two mentioned at the top rank highly on a list like this, but what about guys from the '50s and '60s who were great shooters. We can't just assume that because shooting percentages were lower back then that there wasn't anyone who could stroke it, can we?
If players from 50 years ago had available to them all the lifelong coaching, drills and camps that players take part in these days, can't we reasonably figure that their shooting percentages would have been higher?
So, in an effort to offset the generational differences that exist in basketball statistics and devise a ranking of this nature, here's what I did.
I looked at what the average field goal, free throw and, eventually, three-point percentages were for each decade to determine which players had significant advantages in those departments.
I found that some of the best shooters in the history of the game actually had field-goal percentages around the league average, but, as said earlier, rose above the pack due to their three-point and free-throw percentages.
To sort all that out, I looked through each decade to find players who were either at or above the league average in field-goal percentage and were significantly above (at least five percent) the average for free-throw percentage and three-point percentage once it was instituted.
I believe this is the fairest way to calculate statistical greatness in this category, as there is a pretty even distribution of players from each decade on this list. A brief rundown of how shooting percentages have changed since the NBA formed will be provided on the next slide.
Now that all of that is out of the way, let's get started. As always, feel free to debate.