After Kyrie Irving's victory in the three-point shootout this past weekend, my creative three-point juices got flowing- all over my computer.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Another motivating factor for this article was Jason Kidd, who has amazingly made the third most three-point shots in NBA history.
I love J Kidd, but to me, he is the antithesis of a “pure shooter”, a guy that came out of the womb knocking shit down. Kidd refined his skill to the point where he somehow gets it done but early in his career he struggled with hitting the three.
So, in the context of the three pointer, who do you immediately think of when you hear the term “pure shooter”? Here are ten guys that came to mind immediately, in no particular order:
Reggie Miller- Miller was the ultimate three point shooting villain. A notorious trash talker for years, maybe the best in the NBA during his playing career, Miller’s style and ability to shoot the three were established before a nationwide audience during his 25 point fourth quarter (primarily on three’s)versus the Knicks in Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, maybe the single greatest shooting performance ever. A year later in the playoffs, again against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden in game one of the semifinals, he scored 8 points in 8.9 seconds, including back to back three’s, to win the game. Miller led the NBA in three point makes twice and was the all-time NBA leader until Ray Allen broke his record this season. For his career he hit .395% of his three point attempts.
Larry Bird- You could write an entire article about how great “Larry Legend” was beyond the three point arc. The winner of the first three NBA three point contests, Bird probably could have won it again if he wanted to. Maybe the greatest all around shooter in NBA history, it’s interesting to note that Bird attempted roughly only one three pointer a game in his first five seasons, making just .284% in that span. In his defense, the utilization of the three pointer was still in its infancy league wide. But over the next seven seasons Larry hit .398% of his attempts and led the league in three’s made in 85-86 and 86-87, popularizing it as a weapon in the process. His career three point percentage was .376%
Mark Price- Price gets most of his recognition for his prowess as the greatest free throw shooter of all-time, leading the league in percentage three separate seasons and carrying a ridiculous .904 average for his career which is the all-time high. Price won the three point contest two times and retired with a career average of .402%. He was the second player in NBA history to shoot at least 40% on three’s, at least 50% from the field and at least 90% from the free throw line in one season, following Larry Bird. His best season shooting three’s percentage wise came in 87-88 when he hit a ridiculous .486% from deep.
Steve Kerr- Was there ever a more one dimensional player who completely maxed out his potential thanks to being in the right place at the right time so frequently? On the court, he always found a way to get open looks and for his career converted the best percentage from deep in NBA history at .454%. He deftly maneuvered himself between teams as easily as he found open shots, joining the Spurs for their 1999 championship after winning three consecutive with the Bulls, becoming the only player to win four consecutive titles that wasn’t a Celtic in NBA history. His .524 percentage in 94-95 is the single season NBA record.
Steve Nash- Nash is such a consistent shooter you almost take him for granted. Prior to last season he’d hit at least .405 of his three pointers in 11 straight seasons and has done so 13 times in 15 years. He’s never led the league in percentages or threes made or attempted in a season but his .429% iseighth best in NBA history. In 05-06, Nash became the fourth player in NBA history to shoot 50% or better from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 90% from the line. Larry Bird, Mark Price and Reggie Miller are the only other players to do it.
Dale Ellis- Ellis’s line drive three point shot was singular and distinct, making the fifth most three pointers in NBA history but was second upon his retirement. His .464% in 97-98 led the league. His career single season high percentage was .478% during the 88-89 season which was second best in the league that year even though he took and made the second most threes in the league. His .403% average from downtown for his career is 24th in NBA history.
Glen Rice- Rice led the league in three point percentage in 96-97 by hitting .470% of his attempts, also the year he took the most per game in his career (5.6). Rice won the three point shootout in 1995. From 94-95 to 97-98 Rice hit .434% of his attempts from beyond the arc, which was also the four highest scoring years of his career. In 15 seasons, Rice hit exactly .40% of his three point shots and made the eighth most three point shots in history.
Ray Allen- Is Ray Allen getting better with age? In the same year he became the NBA’s all-time leader in three pointers made, Allen compiled the most efficient three point shooting year of his career, hitting a career high 44% and averaging over two makes per game. He led the league in three point makes in back to back years (01-02 and 02-03) and led in makes and attempts in the 05-06 season. For his career he has hit .399% of his shots from downtown.
Dennis Scott- “3D” capitalized on the closer three point line more than any shooter at the time, setting an NBA record for three pointers made in a season with 267 in 95-96. A career .397% shooter on three’s, he took almost eight three’s per game in 95-96, making 3.3 and hitting .425% of the time. From 92-93 to 96-97, he took 5.7 per game and made .409% of them. Scoot also set the then NBA record for threes in a game with 11, since broken by Kobe.
Chuck Person- “The Rifleman” had the coolest nickname for a three point shooter ever, no doubt. And, it perfectly summarized the way he would hoist three’s in a seemingly endless fashion from all over the floor, with unlimited range. Person and Larry Bird had a classic battle in the 1991 playoffs that is worth Googling, exchanging deep threes and big shots as if no one else was on the floor. A career .362% three point shooter his best season from beyond the arc came when he shot the most, in 95-96 with 5.8 attempts per game, making 2.4 and hitting at a 41% clip.
Who else did we forget?
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