Stephen Curry Breaks 3-Point Record: Can He Be the Best Shooter of All Time?

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 05:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts in the final moments of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on April 5, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Warriors defeated the Suns 111-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Stephen Curry is now the NBA's record holder for most three-point makes in a single season after hitting four against the Portland Trail Blazers. He finished the 2012-13 season with 272 (two better than Ray Allen's previous record of 270).

There is no doubt that the Warriors' 25-year-old point guard is the best shooter in the NBA today. He made a staggering 3.5 threes per game this season while connecting on 45 percent of his attempts. He also shot 90 percent from the free-throw line.

The question on Curry is can we already consider him one of the greatest shooters in NBA history after just four seasons as a pro? And even further, can he go down as the best shooter ever?

The answer to both questions is "absolutely."

In many ways, this has been a breakout year for Curry, though not in terms of shooting percentage. Forty-five percent from beyond the three-point line is an outstanding year for most players, but it's merely par for the course for Golden State's rising superstar, whose lowest single-season percentage in that category is 44.

If Curry retired from basketball tonight, his career three-point percentage (barely under 45) would be good for second all time behind analyst extraordinaire Steve Kerr.

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What's perhaps even more impressive than his shooting percentage is the fact that Curry is so efficient as a volume shooter. After hoisting up 11 against Portland, he finished the 2012-13 season with an even 600 attempts from three-point range.

His incredible accuracy—in combination with his aggressive style—has led to Curry exploding out of the gate much faster than Ray Allen or Reggie Miller (the first and second-leading shooters of all time in terms of made threes) in their respective careers.

Check out Curry's career numbers compared to Allen and Miller's through their first four seasons:

  Games 3P 3P% FG% FT% PPG
Stephen Curry 257 644 45% 47% 90% 19.2
Ray Allen 296 497 39% 44% 87% 18.1
Reggie Miller 320 421 38% 50% 87% 18.4

Despite playing significantly fewer games due to injuries, Curry's pace is easily ahead of both players. If he stays healthy, he'll move into the top 100 all time for made threes next season and he'll still be four years shy of 30.

Three-point shooting is one basketball skill that also tends to get better with age. Curry won't always be as quick or explosive as he is today, but his craftiness and touch will likely never betray him. He'll know how to get open for years to come, and it would not be surprising to see him turn in a year in which he makes over 50 percent of his three-point attempts.

If you remove the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Curry is averaging 196 threes per season. If he plays 15 years at that pace, he'll easily pass Ray Allen's current total of 2,857. And that's a conservative estimate since Curry's pace is on the rise right now (does anyone expect him to hit less than 200 threes in a healthy season for the next six or seven years?).

On top of all that, the numbers don't tell us perhaps the most impressive aspect of Curry's shooting prowess: he's a point guard and creates a ton of these shots on his own. His ability to shoot off the dribble is unrivaled.

This record-breaking season is likely just a hint of what's to come for Stephen Curry. Sports fans love to see history made, and Curry may break a few more records before he's done.

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