The NBA, during its early years, was a big man’s paradise. Big men could absolutely dominate a game in the paint without hesitation. This continued for decades until, in 1979, the NBA decided to adopt the three point line. This three point line meant that there was now a shot that could contend with the constant post play of the big men.
Big men still had their place in the NBA, but slowly and surely NBA teams started to search for players that could help with this new and powerful shot. This has continued until it could be argued that three point shooting was as important as the post play of the early years.
Fast forward to the present day, and the NBA has become primarily a shooter's league with an always increasing reliance on the three point shot. This reliance on the three point shot has allowed players who can do nothing more than shoot the three to be able to enjoy long and successful careers because their only skill happens to be the most in-demand skill in the game. The three pointer has not only changed how the game is played, but it has changed how teams are run and managed. For example, the top teams in both the East and West conferences in 2015 (Hawks and Warriors) are both full of talented three point shooters. This just shows how having good three point shooting often translates directly into wins.
This list will look at the best of the best. The 15 men on this list have proven, year in and year out, that they are among the best shooters in the league. This list isn’t necessarily looking at the top 15 of stats this year, it is looking at who we believe to be the 15 best three point shooters in the NBA today.
* All stats were taken from ESPN.com.
15 Courtney Lee
When the Memphis Grizzlies traded for Courtney Lee, it was thought to be nothing more than a minor transaction. However, in retrospect, that deal is looking like it could have major implications on the success of the Grizzlies. Lee provides much needed diversification to the Grizzlies, who boast mainly post scoring offense. Ever since Lee has come to town, the Grizzlies have a much improved three point shooting efficiency. Lee was an instrumental part of this improvement, as he averaged a three point shooting percentage of 40.2% for the 2014-15 season.
14 Matt Bonner
The “Red Rocket” has been a three point shooting specialist for the entirety of his NBA career, which has spanned over a decade with both the Raptors and the Spurs. Bonner is the perfect example of a player sticking in the league almost exclusively due to his three point shooting prowess. Most players who average less than nine points, less than five rebounds and less than one assist per game, don’t stick around in the NBA for as long as Bonner has. However, Bonner is an elite three-point shooter, as he's had seven seasons of better than 40% three point shooting in his career.
13 Steve Novak
Like Matt Bonner, Steve Novak is another player who has made a career out of being a fairly one dimensional three point shooter. Novak, despite only starting six games in his entire NBA career, has managed to remain in the league for nearly a decade, which shows just how valuable three point shooting is in the modern NBA. Novak has had six seasons of better than 40% three point shooting, including a season where he had a three point shooting percentage of greater than 56.5% which is one of the best of all time.
12 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is not only one of the best scorers and players in the NBA today, he is also among the best three point shooters in the league as well. Durant is an outstanding mix of athleticism and shooting, as he is capable of not only hitting open three point shots, but also hitting contested game winning threes, which shows he's one of the most clutch players on this list. Also, the fact that Durant has been able to put up three seasons of better than 40% three point shooting is especially impressive, due to the number of shots he takes.
11 Wesley Matthews
Matthews is one of the biggest transitional stories on this list. By his own account, Wesley Matthews was never a jump shooter. He began his career as primarily a slasher, who admits he learned to shoot the three so his coach wouldn’t take him out of the game. Over the years, he has turned this three point shot into a deadly weapon, as he has hit around 40% on threes every single year he has been in the league. This is extremely impressive, as he is increasingly taking more and more threes, while still maintaining a solid percentage.
10 Anthony Morrow
Morrow is an under the radar selection, as most people likely don’t know who he is. Morrow has played with a number of teams throughout his career, but is currently with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite not having a well-known name, Morrow is statistically one of the best three point shooters of all time. He ranks as the ninth best player in NBA history in terms of career three point shooting percentage, with a career percentage of almost 42.9%. His defense prevents him from seeing the floor for long stretches, but it’s impossible to deny his shooting skills.
9 Mike Miller
Mike Miller is perhaps one of the best examples in NBA history of a player sticking around because of his shooting. Miller, who is now 35 years old and in his 15th NBA season, has been in the conversation for the best shooter in the league for a decade. With nine seasons of better than 40% three point shooting under his belt, Miller has essentially made a career out of hitting the long ball. Not only has Miller survived in the league for this long, he has thrived. He has won two NBA championships and made millions of dollars throughout his career.
8 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is quickly becoming one of the premier three point shooters in the NBA today. In fact, he won the NBA Three Point Shooting Contest in 2012/13 in only his second season in the league. He likely has more potential as a shooter than anyone on this list and is capable of creating his own shot, along with being exceptional at the catch and shoot. His three point percentage has hovered around 40% for his career, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see that number increase in the upcoming years.
7 Danny Green
Green leapt into the worldwide spotlight during the 2013 NBA Finals, when he went on an absolute tear, breaking the NBA Finals record for three pointers made in any Finals series. In that series, he hit 27 threes in the 7 game series, with 25 of those coming in the first five games. That's a record that will be incredibly hard to beat. Not to be outdone, his regular season statistics have also been great. He has averaged better than 40% from the three point line in each of the last four seasons.
6 J.J. Redick
J.J. Redick has been one of the most consistent shooters in the NBA since he entered the league in 2006. Redick was a star throughout college with Duke and was known as one of the best shooters in the nation. Many critics didn’t believe his shooting would translate well into the NBA, but they were way off. Redick has not had a season in the NBA where his three point shooting percentage has been less than 36%. He has remained one of the best shooters in the league for years and, at only 30, likely has many more years of great shooting in his future.
5 Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is the youngest players on this list at only 21, but is already among the best shooters in the NBA. Beal, despite only being a third year player, already has a reputation of being a confident and willing shooter. He has put up well over 200 three point shots in each of his first three seasons and is shooting threes at a 40% clip. What is perhaps most exciting about Beal is that he has a ton of room to grow and improve. And with his already 40% shooting percentage, it will be very interesting to see how much he improves in the future.
4 Ray Allen
Firstly, we'll begin this entry with a disclaimer. Although Allen didn't play this season, he's mentioned that he intends to play next season, making him an active player in the NBA and an entry on our list.
Ray Allen is the most prolific shooter in NBA history and is in the argument for the best shooter of all time. He is number one on the all-time list of three pointers made in history with 2973, which is 413 more than the next person on the list (Reggie Miller). He also has a career three point shooting percentage of 40%, which is insane for someone who has shot as many threes as he has. At almost 40 years old, Ray Allen has shown that shooting talent is one of the last things to go.
3 Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is one member of the “Splash Bros” backcourt in Golden State that specializes in three point shooting. At only 24 years old, Thompson is already a top five shooter in the league with over 40% three point shooting in the first four years of his career. He has not even reached his full potential yet, so there's plenty of room for improvement. Thompson made worldwide headlines when he scored an NBA record 37 points in the third quarter of a game against the Sacramento Kings. These 37 points included going 9-9 on three point shots.
2 Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver has made a career out of hitting the three ball and he has played an influential role on numerous teams because of his three point success. He's also only getting better with age, as he made his first All Star Game at the age of 33 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, who finished as the top team in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15. He has had nine seasons of over 40% shooting and multiple seasons at around a 50% clip. With his recent years being some of the best of his career, he's not going anywhere.
1 Stephen Curry
Now we’ve come to the best shooter in the NBA today and the result shouldn’t surprise anyone. Curry is not only the 2014-15 NBA MVP, he is also the best pure shooter the game has ever seen. In six years as a pro, Curry has never dipped below a 42.4% three point shooting percentage. Curry also holds the all-time record for three pointers in one season with 286, which broke his previous NBA record of 272. On top of that, Curry is also on pace to shatter the record for most three pointers by a player in NBA history.