Cleveland’s Kyle Korver had a heck of a night Wednesday.
The Cavaliers mid-season acquisition dropped eight three-pointers in nine attempts in Cleveland’s 132-117 win over Indiana, the fifth trey pushing him past Jason Kidd on the all-time list at no. 7.
Kidd finished his illustrious career with 1,988 and Korver now has 1,992 and counting. The all-time leader from beyond the arc is Ray Allen with 2,973. For the season, Korver has hit on 105 of 242 three-point attempts, for an average of 43.4 percent, good for fifth in the NBA.
Korver’s innate ability to sink three-pointers got us to wondering just what makes an all-time great shooter. Is it the number of three-pointers they have made or are making, or the percentage of treys they hit on?
We believe it is a combination of both. Surely, chucking the rock a gazillion times will certainly lead to results, but how much of an impact do they make if the misses far outweigh the hits?
Keeping that in mind, we have come up with our own list of all-time great three-point masters.
15. Jamal Crawford
Elder statesman Crawford is still going strong at 36, now in his fifth season with the Clippers and 17th overall. The 1-2 guard and Michigan alumnus is currently sixth all-time in three point shots made with 2,004, just ahead of Kyle Korver. Crawford would rank higher on this list if it weren’t for his overall average at .349, which doesn’t even put him in the top 250 all-time in that regard. However, he is just 6’5″ in a league of giants, so getting off contested shots is that much more difficult. Crawford, who has also played with Chicago, New York, Golden State, Atlanta and Portland, had his best three-point shooting season with the Hawks in 2009-10, when he sunk 163 of 427 attempts for a 38.2 percentage. This year, he is 71-for-210 (33.8 percent), with his best outing coming Jan. 24, when he sank six of nine and had 27 points in a loss to the Sixers.
14. Vince Carter
If Jamal Crawford is old, Vince Carter is ancient. Now in his 19th season, the 40-year-old SG/F is playing a less expanded — but no less valuable — role for the Memphis Grizzlies. He hasn’t been a starter since 2011-12 with Dallas, but Carter has contributed much off the bench in his third season with the Grizz. Carter is fifth all-time in three-point shots made with 2,006 (two ahead of Crawford) and his all-time shooting percentage of 37.3 ranks him 145th. This season, Carter has added to his all-time totals with 69 treys on 192 attempts (35.9 percent). In the “Vinsanity” heyday in Toronto, the eight-time all-star put together a super season in 2000-01, sinking a career best 162 out of 397 three-pointers (40.8 percent), which was a major factor in his career high 27.6 points per game.
13. Paul Pierce
This is Paul Pierce’s swan song season and the 39-year-old star SG/F is being serenaded by friends and foes alike as he makes his retirement tour with the L.A. Clippers. When he’s on the floor with Jamal Crawford, 36, the age quotient of the Clips goes up measurably. Pierce will finish his illustrious career in fourth place all-time on the three-point shooters list, as he has 2,138 treys (132 more than Vince Carter and 70 less than still-active Jason Terry). Pierce gets a higher ranking here than Carter for more treys, but he doesn’t move any higher because of his all-time percentage of 36.9 (officially .3686 which is 161st best). Like Carter, his best year came early in his career when he was with Boston. In 2001-02, The Truth sunk 210 of 520 three-pointers for 40.4 percent efficiency during a season he logged 26.1 points per game (his second best total).
12. Dirk Nowitzki
Like Pierce and Carter, who were drafted in the first round with Nowitzki in 1998, the big German is nearing the end of a long and successful career. Most amazing is the fact he’s played every season in Dallas. For a big man (7’0″), he has supple mitts, good enough to drop 1,740 three-pointers, which is good for 15th all-time. His 38.1 percent efficiency ranks him 94th all-time in that statistic, too. The former MVP and champion in 2011 also makes this list because of clutch shooting in the post-season. When the Mavs finally won that championship, Nowitzki shot the lights out, scoring 27.7 points per game (21 games). Included in his playoffs-best 582 points was 23-of-50 shooting from beyond the arc for an amazing 46 percent rate.
11. Rashard Lewis
Lewis, a prolific three-point shooter in 16 NBA seasons, is now a member of the new BIG3 three-on-three loop. He retired in 2014 with 1,787 three-pointers, which is 13th best all-time. In 2008-09, when he was with Orlando, Lewis led the NBA in three-point shots made (220) and attempted (554), good for 39.7 percent efficiency. He was also a three-point shooting machine for the Magic in the playoffs that season, hitting a league high 52 of 132 attempts as Orlando went to the finals. Career-wise, his 38.6 overall mark leaves him 73rd all-time, well ahead of several list mates here, including Dirk Nowitzki. Lewis shot 40 percent or better from three-point land in three seasons, his high-water mark being the 43.2 percent mark he reached with Seattle in 2000-01 (123-for-285).
10. Chauncey Billups
Former NBA All-Star Guard and 2004 champion and finals MVP Billups will soon be passed on the all-time list for most three-pointers by Stephen Curry. No matter, Billups. who retired with 1,830 treys (10th all-time), was one of three great ones from beyond the arc. He also left the game with a career 38.7 percent efficient rate, which is 69th best. He was the Pistons best player and earned finals MVP in 2004, when he shot 47.1 percent from three-point territory. In all that post-season, Billups led all players in three-point shots made (37) and attempted (107). In his best individual season, 2005-06 with Detroit, Billups shot an amazing clip of 43.3 percent, sinking 184 of 425 three-point attempts.
9. Peja Stojakovic
One of the greatest European basketball players — and the best Serbian — Peja Stojakovic left an indelible mark on the NBA. He was a three-time all-star and won the three-point shootout in back to back years (2002 and 2003). And he wasn’t just a one-trick, easy shootaround three-point wizard. He retired in 2011 with 1,760 three-pointers, which is 14th best all-time. Even better, he shot better than 40 percent (.4007 officially) making him the 36th most efficient trey shooter of all-time. In his best season, with the Sacramento Kings in 2003-04, Peja stuck a league high 240 three pointers on 554 attempts for a sterling 43.3 percent efficiency rate. He contributed some clutch three-point shooting in Dallas’ championship run in 2011, hitting 29 of 77 attempts in 19 games.
8. Jason Terry
Now one of the game’s best sixth men in his 18th season, Jason Terry is also third all-time in total three-point buckets with 2,208. The NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award winner in 2009 was also part of that champion Dallas Mavericks team in 2011 that had multiple three-point weapons including Peja Stojakovic and Dirk Nowitzki. During that memorable run, Terry sank an incredible 42 of 95 attempts from beyond the arc to help the Mavs take the title. Terry, who currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, had his best three-point shooting season in 2006-07 in Big D, nailing 162 of 370 attempts for 43.8 percent efficiency. He could have been higher on this list, since his overall three-point percentage is 37.9, good for just a tie with Mike Bibby for 101st all-time.
7. Klay Thompson
It’s nearly ridiculous how good the Golden State Warriors are. This is a team that absolutely kills from three-point territory and Thompson isn’t even the most prolific. The sixth-year shooting guard out of Washington State currently ranks 11th all-time in trey efficiency with a 41.9 percent rate. He is already 50th on the all-time list, too, in total three-pointers with 1,222, tied with John Starks. Thompson has made over 200 three-pointers in four of his first five seasons, including a personal high 276 last season. During the Dubs championship season in 2014-15, he recorded a personal best rate of 43.9 percent on 239-of-545 three-point shooting. In 21 playoff games, he was good on 57 of 146 treys. Even though the Warriors fell to Cleveland in 2016, Thompson led all players in three-pointers made (98) and attempts (231), good for a respectable 42.4 percent rate.
6. Steve Nash
Sometimes, less is more. One of the finest all-around guards ever to play in the NBA, Steve Nash didn’t take a lot of three-pointers (remember, he is third all-time in assists with 10,335) but he made the most of them. He ranks ninth all-time in three-point efficiency, sinking 1,685 (18th all-time) of 3,939 attempts, good for a proficiency rate of 42.8 percent. The two-time league MVP dialed long distance fairly sparingly and enjoyed his best three-point campaign with Phoenix in 2007-08, dropping a career high 179 on 381 attempts (47 percent). Even though he never won that elusive championship, Nash didn’t take his foot off the gas in the playoffs, shooting threes at an overall rate of 40.6 percent in 120 games. In 2002-03 when the Dallas Mavericks went to the Western Conference finals, he was nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc, with 37 three pointers in 76 attempts.
5. Reggie Miller
Like Steve Nash, Reggie Miller wasn’t able to secure a championship for Indiana in 18 great seasons as a Pacer. But, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great player. Miller retired in 2005 with the loops second highest three-point total at 2,560, second only to Ray Allen. The “Knick Killer” who liked to taunt New York was a five-time all-star and is a Hall of Famer. The only reason he is fifth on this list is the fact his efficiency rate was 39.5 percent, ranking him 51st on the all-time roster. He did lead the NBA twice in successful three-point attempts with 167 in 1992-93 an 229 in 1996-97 (when he also logged a personal best 42.7 percentage). In 144 playoff games, Miller shot 39 percent from three-point territory. During the Pacers run to the finals in 2000, Miller was tops in three-pointers made (59) and attempts (147).
4. Steve Kerr
The Golden State Warriors have no doubt learned a lot about picking their spots from three-point territory from one of the best ever, coach Steve Kerr. The Dubs coach was integral to five championships, three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs. The 1997 three-point shootout champion retired as the league’s all-time most proficient three-point shooter, logging a 45.4 success rate (726 of 1,599 attempts). Twice he was the league’s most successful from beyond the arc, with a 50.7 rate in 1989-90 (73-for-144) and an incredible 52.4 in 1994-95 (89-for-170). In 128 playoff games over his career, Kerr didn’t take that many three-pointers, attempting 227 and hitting 84. During Chicago’s 1998 championship run, Kerr was 19-for-41 (46.3 percent).
3. Ray Allen
There is little that Ray Allen didn’t accomplish in his illustrious 18-year career. He was a 10-time all-star, two-time champion and finished with the most all-time three-point shots made with 2,973. He would have topped this list, were it not for his still very good 40 percent efficiency rate (37th all-time). Not only did he lead all regular season shooters in treys, but was also tops in the post-season with 385 (out of 959 attempts, again 40.1 percent efficient). Three times in the post-season he had the most three-point field goals, in 2001 with Milwaukee (57), in 2008 with champion Boston (55) and in 2010 again with Boston (56). He dropped 39 of 96 (40.6 percent) to help Miami win a championship in 2013, his second last year in the league.
2. Kyle Korver
As we noted above, Kyle Korver slipped into seventh-place all-time in three-pointers with an 8-for-9 performance on Wednesday night. Now in his 14th season, it also bears mentioning that for six of his 14 seasons he wasn’t a full-time starter, which makes his three-point shooting wizardry even more noteworthy. Not only is Korver seventh all-time (and counting) in successful treys, but he is also eighth best in efficiency at 43 percent (actually .4296). The versatile guard/forward wasn’t that highly regarded out of Creighton University, going in the second round (51st overall) to New Jersey in 2003. Yet, he has led the NBA in three-point shooting percentage three times, including 2009-10 with Utah (53.6 percent), and back-to-back years with Atlanta in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (47.2 and 49.2 percent).
1. Stephen Curry
We are willing to bet that by the time he retires, Stephen Curry will be the all-time leader in successful three-point shots made, as well as overall efficiency. In just eight NBA seasons, Curry is already 12th in total treys with 1,804 and is second to coach Steve Kerr in proficiency at 44.1 percent. In 2012-13, Steph set the NBA record for three-pointers in a season with 272 (out of 600 attempts) and last year he smashed it to bits, hitting a whopping 402 of 886 attempts for a 45.4 percent rate. He has led the NBA in three-point shots made four years running, as well as attempts. He currently is tops in the loop in both categories again, hitting 211 of 501 attempts. The two-time MVP also owns the record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer (157), consecutive playoff games with a three-pointer (58), most three-pointers in a post-season (98) and most three-pointers scored in one game (13).