Throughout the NBA’s illustrious history, a countless number of great talents have competed at the highest levels, each possessing a variety of unique talents and patented moves. Whether it’d be Allen Iverson’s signature cross-over, or Dirk Nowitzki’s rangy jump shots at seven feet, these revolutionary skill sets helped transcend the NBA into the game that exists today. Ever since the NBA added the three-point line in 1979, a host of stand-out shooters from all five positions have left a legacy as some of the greatest shooters we’ve ever seen. For some players, the three-point shot is seen as just a portion to their well-rounded offensive skill set. For other players, the three-pointer is a vital component to their overall offensive approach. Some of these players include Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr. For this specific article, I’ll be listing five of the greatest three-point shooters in league history, by each position. To make the cut for this specific list, a player must have converted at least 200 career three-point field goals. Keep in mind, this list is accurate as of the 2015-16 season. So kick back, and enjoy this exclusive list of the greatest three-point snipers in NBA history.
25 Point Guard: Mo Williams
Career 3pt%: 37.8%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,094
Although he may not be your typical pass-first point guard, Mo Williams more than makes up for that with his scoring and lethal jump shot. Williams's ability to pull up for a sweet midrange jump shot, as well as shoot a high arching three-point shot made him one of the more electric scorers in the NBA. Paired with Michael Redd in the backcourt for the Milwaukee Bucks in the mid-2000s, both have made a strong case as one of the greatest shooting backcourts of their era. Possessing a textbook jump shot, Williams peaked at an efficient 43.6% from the arc while averaging 17.8 points in 2009, making his first All-Star team that same season. LeBron James' old supporting casts in Cleveland get a bad reputation more times than not. However, from 2008-2010, LeBron had an All-Star sniper in Mo Williams. Let's all not forget that.
24 Point Guard: Mark Price
Career 3pt%: 40.2%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 976
Mark Price had an eight year run as one of the elite point guards during his time throughout the late '80s and early '90s. Comparable to Steve Nash, Price’s ability to shoot the rock helped him find open teammates consistently, peaking at an incredible 10.4 assists a game in 1991. Price’s jersey was retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 13, 1999, holding a legacy as one of the best players in the franchise’s history. Price won the three-point shootout twice, going back to back in 1993 and 1994. He is also a one-time member of the “50-40-90” shooting club, becoming the second player since Larry Bird in 1989 to do so. Although most of his scoring revolved around his three-point shot, there is something else you can't ignore. Price is also the all-time leader in free-throw percentage for the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise, and second all-time only trailing Steve Nash. His well rounded shooting abilities helped him become one of the most lethal three-point shooters we've seen in league history.
23 Point Guard: Steve Kerr
Career 3pt%: 45.4%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 726
Throughout the duration of the second Chicago three-peat, Steve Kerr was the go-to three-point sniper for the Bulls. During the 1996 regular season, the Bulls finished third as a team in three-pint field goal percentage, and Kerr’s 51.5% shooting from the arc that season helped contribute to that tremendously. In 1995, Kerr peaked at an incredible 52.4% from three-point range, while knocking down 89 treys. Kerr currently serves as the head coach the Golden State Warriors. It seems like the shooting prowess of Kerr’s never fades, whether it’d be as a player or coach. Steve Kerr is a five-time champion as a player, having won three with the Bulls and two as a member of the San-Antonio Spurs. While Kerr maybe remembered more for his position as a head coach, his lethal three-point shooting is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever.
22 Point Guard: Steve Nash
Career 3pt%: 42.8%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,685
Aside from his quintessential playmaking skill sets, Steve Nash is also one of the greatest shooters in league history. Part of what made Nash excel as a pass-first point guard was his ability to shoot at a very efficient clip, allowing him to post a career average of 14.3 points. A back-to-back league MVP in 2005 and 2006, Nash lead the league in assists five times and is currently the all-time leader in free-throw percentage. Nash also holds the record for the most "50-40-90" clubs in the regular season, a very exclusive shooting club where players convert at least 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 90% at the foul line throughout the duration of the regular season. Nash is also third on the NBA's all-time assists rankings, and is one of the great point guards of the modern era.
21 Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Career 3pt%: 44.4% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,610 (active)
Many experts and fans already consider Steph Curry to be amongst the greatest shooters in league history. When you consider the pace Curry continues to play at, that claim just gets harder to deny. The best part about Steph Curry’s offensive game is the versatility in his shooting -- Curry can take opponents off the dribble, spot-up, or take it to the hole and get to the line. With a slick handle that allows him to create shots all the way out to the three-point line, many analysts consider Curry the best offensive player in the NBA today. A member of the "50-40-90" shooting club in 2016, Curry continues to establish himself as one of the great snipers we have ever seen. At just 28 years of age, Curry still has plenty of years in the proverbial “tank” to unanimously establish himself as the greatest shooter in NBA history.
20 Shooting Guard: Dale Ellis
Career 3pt%: 40.3%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,719
An elite scorer and sniper, Dale Ellis peaked at an incredibly efficient 47.8% shooting from the arc while averaging 27.5 points during the 1989 regular season. A former NBA Three Point Shootout Champion, Ellis led the league in 3pt% once in 1998. A potent offensive player, Ellis' game consisted of a quick form and a lethal midrange shot, particularly while coming off screens. Ellis was one of the premier three-point shooters during an era featuring some of the great snipers we've seen, including Mark Price and Larry Bird. Before Jamal Crawford became known for his four-point plays, Ellis had become the first player in league history to convert two three-point shots while being fouled in a single game. That just put into perspective his lethal, deadeye three-point shot. Absolute marksman, to say the least.
19 Shooting Guard: Dražen Petrović
Career 3pt%: 43.7%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 255
If a Hall of Fame sniper says that you’re amongst the best shooters of all time, you must be legit. On an episode of "NBA Open Court" years ago, Reggie Miller acclaimed Dražen Petrović as the greatest shooter he’s ever seen, and played against:
"I consider myself the best shooter ever. But there's one guy that tops me. And he got underneath my skin. And the reason he got underneath my skin was because a lot of times, I couldn't understand what he was saying. And it was the late, great Dražen Petrović." - Reggie Miller.
Pretty high praise from Reggie Miller. Because of a career that was cut short due to a tragic car accident back in 1993, we can only guess Petrović’s full potential as a three-point marksman. However, a spot as the fourth best three-point shooting two-guard in history isn't all too bad.
18 Shooting Guard: Reggie Miller
Career 3pt%: 39.5%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 2,560
Outside his deadly three-point shot, Reggie Miller is also one of the great clutch shooters this league has ever seen. Standing at 6-7, Reggie Miller possessed one of the most lethal, unorthodox jump shots. Selected 11th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft, Miller established Miller immediately established himself as a standout sniper. What made Miller such a great player, besides his legendary trash talking, was his ability to effectively come off screens and torch opposing defenders with three-point shots, peaking at 24.6 points a game in 1990. Miller also one of seven players in league history to be in the exclusive “50-40-90” shooting club. Miller is a 5x NBA All-Star, and is currently a member of the TNT’s play-by-play commentary team.
17 Shooting Guard: Ray Allen
Career 3pt%: 40.3%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 2,973
Ray Allen currently holds the record for most career three-point field goals made, having passed Hall of Famer Reggie Miller back in 2011. He’s acclaimed by many as the greatest three-point shooter in league history, and a legitimate argument could be made for him. Possessing one of the best shooting forms, Allen’s abilities to either come off screens or create his own shot made him one of the more potent offensive players in the league for over a decade. Allen's textbook shooting form made him peak at 45.3% from three-point territory in 2012. He's also a standout free-throw shooter, having peaked at a great 95.2% in 2009. Drafted fifth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft, Ray Allen made an immediate impact with the Milwaukee Bucks. Ray Allen is a two-time champion, 10x All-Star, and will be enshrined as a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame one day.
16 16. Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson
Career 3pt%: 41.7% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,063 (active)
Selected 11th overall in 2011 out of Washington State, Klay Thompson has established himself as one of the deadliest shooters in just five seasons. Paired with another one of a kind marksman in Steph Curry, both make an easy case as to being the greatest shooting backcourt in league history. While most team defenses in the league are most concerned of Steph's Curry's marksmanship - and rightfully so, more times than not that gives Klay plenty of room to get hot, put up points and operate off screens. How often in league history do you find a player drop 37 points while making all nine treys - all in one quarter? Standing at 6-7, Thompson’s quick, textbook shooting stroke helped him peak at a solid 22.1 points during the 2016 season. He’s currently second all-time for most three’s ever made in a single season, trailing teammate Steph Curry.
15 Small Forward: Larry Bird
Career 3pt%: 37.6%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 649
Larry “Legend”, as he’s known. Lary Bird is more than just an NBA icon, although that can’t be easily overlooked. Bird’s three-point shooting was amongst the deadliest during his era, a time when the three-point arc was just being integrated into the NBA. Larry Bird was more than a downtown sniper - he was amongst one of the best rebounders and passers while being a pest on the defensive side of the ball. The Celtics great is one of seven players in history to be in the exclusive "50-40-90" shooting club. A big part of Bird's offensive arsenal was his three-point shot, where he peaked at an incredible 29.9 a game while hitting 41.4% from downtown. Bird's marksmanship helped him lead the league in free-throw percentage four times throughout his illustrious career, while also capturing three NBA titles and three league MVP's throughout the historic '80s.
14 Small Forward: Dennis Scott
Career 3pt%: 39.7%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,214
Selected fourth overall in the 1990 NBA Draft, Dennis Scott is one of the premier three-point snipers in NBA history. While probably more known by our younger fans for his commentary on "NBA TV," Scott was a once upon a time amongst the three-point shooters in the league. Before Ray Allen started torching teams and breaking records with threes, Dennis “3D” Scott held the single season record for the most three-point field goals ever made, converting 267 of his treys. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Scott also set the single game record for most threes made, knocking down 11 on April 20, 1993. Scott’s potent three-point shooting was one of many contributing factors to the Orlando Magic advancing to the NBA Finals in 1995.
13 Small Forward: Peja Stojaković
Career 3pt%: 40.1%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,760
A 6-10 small forward, Peja Stojaković was a key component to the Sacramento Kings’ deep Playoff runs in the early 2000s. A back-to-back three-point shootout champion in 2002-03, Stojaković's unusual height for a small forward at 6-10 helped him shoot threes over shorter defenders, peaking at an efficient 44.1% shooting in 2008. Stojaković's quick shooting stroke combined with his knack to come off screens helped him maintain a spot amongst the great shooters for several years. Stojaković is a three-time NBA All-Star, an NBA Champion with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, and a decorated player overseas. Posting a career average of 17 points a game, Stojaković was an offensive juggernaut in the early 2000's, possessing an offensive arsenal that helped him peak at an incredible 24.2 points in 2004.
12 12. Small Forward: Kyle Korver
Career 3pt%: 43% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,897 (active)
One of the deadliest catch-and-shoot players in history, Korver shot a record 53.6% from three-point range back in 2010. Korver’s knack for coming off screens, while perfectly setting himself up for a three-point shot has been a signature of his since arriving in the pros back in 2003. Aside from setting the league record in 3pt%, Korver also lead the league in free-throw percentage, shooting 91% in 2007. A first time All-Star in 2015, Korver remains one of the premier spot-up shooters in the league for over a decade. He's played for four teams throughout his 13 year career, including the Bulls, Hawks, Jazz, and 76ers. Korver's textbook form will undoubtedly reserve him a spot as one of the most respected three-point shooters of the modern-day era.
11 Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Career 3pt%: 37.9% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,146 (active)
When Kevin Durant’s name comes up, people generally think of the 4x scoring champion. Aside of Durant's historic scoring prowesses, he possesses one of the deadliest three-point shots in league history. Part of what makes Durant such an elite scorer is his combination of length and his consistent, deadeye three-point shooting. Selected second overall out of Texas back in the 2007 NBA Draft, Durant has seen himself capture a league MVP, a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012, and six All-Star teams. Outside of winning a championship, there really isn’t much “proving” Durant has to do at this point in his career. Durant can eventually go down as the all-time leading scorer in league history, and his three-point shooting would have a ton to do with that.
10 Power Forward: Kevin Love
Career 3pt%: 36.2% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 747 (active)
Kevin Love might just be the most overlooked member of the “Big 3” in Cleveland, a trio featuring the likes of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Despite the lack of attention Love has received for his productivity, his skill sets as an offensive player are a huge key for the Cavaliers' success. Love's offensive arsenal expands far beyond the three-point shot - his frame at 250lb's can help him either post defenders up, or face-up and drill a midrange jump shot with a sweet stroke. Love’s ability to play small offensively by shooting the three-point shot helped guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship just last season. As a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011, Love led the league in rebounding while knocking down 41.7% of his three-point shots. There are a select few players in history that can rebound like a seven-footer, and shoot from the perimeter like a guard. And Kevin Love can say he’s on that very exclusive list.
9 Power Forward: Ryan Anderson
Career 3pt%: 37.7% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 991 (active)
Picked 21st overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Ryan Anderson is simply a textbook sniper. Anderson is amongst the elite three-point shooting big men in the game today. His ability to shoot free-throws at an incredibly efficient rate, combined with his deadly shooting stroke make him one of the toughest covers in the league. Anderson peaked at 40.9% shooting from three-point range in 2014, while converting 95% of his free-throws. Anderson's ability to either spot-up and over shorter defenders, or draw big men away from the paint are what most coaches value at an incredibly high level, especially in a game where the "stretch four" is valued. Recently inking a deal with the Houston Rockets, Anderson will be looking to sustain high levels of success with none other than fellow marksman, James Harden.
8 Power Forward: Troy Murphy
Career 3pt%: 38.8%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 613
The three-point shot is an exclusive component to some players’ offensive arsenals, and Troy Murphy is one of them. Murphy’s textbook shooting stroke at 6-11 helped him become one of the most respectable three-point shooting big men in the modern-era. His ability to pull opposing big men from the paint, and open up the lane for his teammates gave his offensive game that much of an impact. His rare ability to crash the boards, as well as being an effective three-point shooter helped him become an inside-outside threat, averaging a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds in 2009. Murphy has seen himself play for a number of teams throughout his career, including the Warriors, Pacers, and Celtics. Off the court, Murphy was also a standout student in the classroom, posting a great 3.8 GPA, as well as a degree in Sociology.
7 Power Forward: Channing Frye
Career 3pt%: 38.6% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 844 (active)
Although never really a star, Channing Frye’s production is indubitable. In today’s game, a player like Frye are what most coaches would wish for. Frye’s abilities as a 6-10 power forward make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenders. His knack to get open off picks, as well as spot-up and drill the three-point shot is part of what makes him such a lethal offensive player. He peaked at an incredible 43.9% shooting from beyond the arc in 2010, and remains one of the better shooters in the game today His excellent three-point shooting was also a big component to the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully taking home the NBA title in 2016. Aside from being a great three-point shooter, Frye is is also one of the better complementary pieces in the NBA today.
6 6. Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki
Career 3pt%: 38.1% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,705 (active)
Dirk Nowitzki is widely recognized as one of the greatest internationally-born players of all time. His height at 7-0 tall made his patented one-legged fade away shot one of the toughest covers to defend in NBA history. With a release virtually behind his ear, Dirks high arching shot stands out amongst one of the best in league history. Nowitzki won a league MVP award in 2007, while also performing at an historic level in the 2011 Playoffs, capturing his first NBA title. Tallying up 29,522 career points (and counting), there is no doubt that Nowitzki will one day be enshrined on the stage in Springfield, Massachusetts. Nowitzki is not only the one of the greatest shooting big man we've ever seen, but also one of the premier power forwards of all time.
5 Center: Bill Laimbeer
Career 3pt%: 32.6%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 202
Bill Laimbeer was an absolute roughrider. Known more for his bruising style of play, Laimbeer lead the league in rebounding back in 1986 as a member of the Detroit Pistons. Had Laimbeer played the one, two, or the three position, he wouldn’t be close to making any of these lists when you consider his three-point percentages. Despite that, Laimbeer’s shooting stroke for a big man, especially during his era, was extremely rare. The three-point shot wasn’t a huge part of Laimbeer’s offensive arsenal, as most of his focus was centered around rebounding and sheer hustle play. Posting career averages of a near double-double, Laimbeer will forever be associated with the “Bad Boy Pistons” as one of the more solid complementary pieces we’ve seen in league history.
4 Center: Rasheed Wallace
Career 3pt%: 33.6%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 1,086
Despite being infamously known for the multitude of technicals Rasheed Wallace received, don’t let that fool you in the wrong direction. Sheed possessed one of the more unique offensive arsenals of his time. Standing at 6’ 10’’, Sheed was capable of doing his damage offensively in a multitude of ways, including having his back to the basket, shooting the mid-range jump shot, or torching opposing big men from the three-point line. Wallace was also a key component to the balanced-out championship Pistons team in 2004. He was a threat to opposing coaches on the basketball court, and is also a multiple time All-Star. As the NBA game evolves, and you start to see centers like Karl-Anthony Towns spread the floor, remember Rasheed Wallace as a big reason for the game’s evolution of the center position. And, of course, the technical foul fines.
3 Center: Andrea Bargnani
Career 3pt%: 35.4% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 627 (active)
Andrea Bargnani was able to make an immediate impact in the NBA after being selected with the first overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Bargnani averaged double digits in points during a nine-year stretch, up until the 2015-16 season. Peaking at a solid 21.4 points a game, Bargnani’s streaky three-point shot helped him maintain a spot as one of the better scorers in the league at the center position. His deadly stroke from downtown helped him peak at 40.9% in 2009. Bargnani poses a threat to shorter defenders at seven feet tall. Despite the criticism Bargnani has received for being too “soft,” there is simply no denying Bargnani’s results as a sniper from long range. He’s also a decorated player internationally, having won multiple league titles in Italy.
2 Center: Mehmet Okur
Career 3pt%: 37.5%
Career 3pt Field Goals: 596
Mehmet Okur was a key contributor to that Detroit Pistons team that ended up winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2004. Okur’s combination of length and strength made him one of the more potent scorers at the center position for several years. A career 13.5 point-per-game scorer, Okur’s soft touch from the arc translated to a spot on the West All-Star team in 2007. Over the course of his ten seasons in the league, Okur has played on just three teams, including the Pistons, Jazz, and Nets. Okur currently serves as the assistant coach for the young, developing Phoenix Suns. Drafted 37th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft, Okur had a solid run in the league, making a name as one of the great three-point snipers at the center position.
1 Center: Matt Bonner
Career 3pt%: 41.4% (active)
Career 3pt Field Goals: 797 (active)
Also known as “The Red Mamba,” Matt Bonner is one of the elite three-point shooting centers in history. Although he’s never received quality playing time throughout his career, Bonner managed to lead the league in three-point field goal percentage in 2011, converting 45.7% of his treys that season. Offensively, Bonner isn't really asked much other than shoot his lethal three-point shot. Despite being 6-10, Bonner was a below average rebounder, peaking at 4.8 boards in 2009. Bonner's deadly three-point shooting was one of many factors for the San-Antonio Spurs winning titles in 2007 and 2014. Possessing one of the more unorthodox releases, the results are undeniably consistent. Bonner has been a rock solid three-point shooter over the course of his twelve-year career, converting at a 41.4% clip from beyond the arc.
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