Ray Allen broke Reggie Miller’s NBA record for most 3-pointers in a career. Allen now has more than 2,800 3-pointers in his illustrious and soon-to-be Hall-of-Fame career. However, despite having the distinction of being the NBA’s all-time 3-point king, is Ray Allen the best pure shooter in the game today? Moreover, where does Allen rank among the all-time great pure shooters in NBA history? Let the debate begin.
OneManFastBreak.net examines the 10 best pure shooters in NBA history. Editor’s note: As much as we’d like to include Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Pete Maravich, Kobe Bryant or even Dirk Nowitzki on this list, they’re more great scorers than pure shooters. A pure shooter is someone who relies on screens and excels in an offense that highlights ball and player movement. Pure shooters can also stretch a defense with their ability to make jump shots from beyond 23 feet. And they can go for long stretches without touching the basketball, yet when given the opportunity they rarely miss. #snipers
10. Drazen Petrovic
It is unfortunate that Petrovic died at 28. The basketball world only saw a short trailer of the Croatian sensation’s made-for-TV career. Petrovic was a natural-born shooter and his impact in the NBA, even though it was shortlived, was undeniable. His game blossomed after he was traded from Portland to New Jersey, instantly becoming the Nets best scorer. His range was unlimited, and he oozed with remarkable confidence for someone who was totally out of his element. During the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Petrovic was the only player who stood up to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the rest of the U.S. Dream Team.
9. Mark Price
The pride of Oklahoma and Georgia Tech, Mark Price is basketball’s Baby Face Assassin. Price offers that choir-boy appearance at first but then you realize this guy is a true sniper who can knock down cold-blooded shots. Price was a 40% 3-point shooter and 90% free throw shooter in his 12-year NBA career, nine of which were spent with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He shot 94% from the line during the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.
8. Klay Thompson
Anyone who doubts the son of former Lakers standout Mychal Thompson belongs on this list should watch Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference playoff series between Golden State and Oklahoma City. That was the night when Klay almost single-handedly kept the Warriors’ season alive with a shooting exhibition for the ages. Klay swished an NBA playoff record 11 treys and scored 41 points in an elimination game on the road. The out-of-this-world performance cemented Thompson’s place as one of the game’s best long-range shooters. Chris Webber said it best: “All heart and will.”
7. Glen Rice
You want “Minute Rice” or “Instant Rice?” That was the question posed by Glen Rice to teammate John Salley before the start of the 2000 NBA Finals. It’s not boasting when you own one of the sport’s deadliest jump shots. The man used to be known as G-Money was a pure gunner who never took a shot he didn’t like. Once Rice got off the team bus, he was open. He was an absolute sniper. His range was unlimited and his form was almost perfect. It was a stunner whenever he missed because it seemed like every shot he took looked good coming out of his fingertips. Rice averaged more than 20 points per game six times during his career, and drained 1,559 3-pointers.
6. Peja Stojakovic
Stojakovic was drafted in the first round in the 1996 draft by the Sacramento Kings, one of Geoff Petrie’s major draft gems. His 1,760 3-pointers ranks in the top five all-time and is a 40% shooter from behind the arc for his career. Peja’s incredible shooting was one of the reasons the Kings were one of the best scoring teams in the NBA from 2001-05. He’s made more than 100 threes 10 times in his career – 240 in 2003-04 with the Kings, 231 in 2007-08 with the Hornets. He’s currently a key contributor to the Dallas Mavericks as a sniper off the bench. At 6-foot-9, Stojakovic is a shooting guard in a forward’s body, which allowed him to shoot over any defender. He loved to drift to his left side to set up his jump shot, a step-back move that became his signature shot.
5. Chris Mullin
The former collegiate star from St. John’s University wasn’t fast nor flashy and wasn’t blessed with great athleticism. But he made his living by perfecting a deadly baseline jump shot, a smooth left-handed stroke that would enable him to last 16 years in the NBA and amassed almost 18,00 points. A member of Golden State’s formidable trio “Run TMC,” Mullin averaged more than 20 points six times in his career and shot 86% from the free throw line. When the 1992 Dream Team was being constructed, Mullin was called to provide the greatest team in basketball history some much-needed outside shooting. He averaged 12.9 points, which was fourth on the Dream Team.
4. Reggie Miller
Most Indiana Pacers fans were scratching their heads when Miller was chosen by the team in the 1987 NBA draft, especially when Indiana’s favorite son, Steve Alford, was still on the board. Well, more than 25,000 points and 2,560 3-point shots later, the Pacers were left satisfied with their pick. Miller basically invented the art of running off defenders on screens. To do so, you had to be in tremendous physical condition, which he was. Miller worked extremely hard at his craft. He was always one of the first players in the gym shooting jump shots. He also was one of the league’s best trash talkers, and he backed up his big talk more often than not (see Reggie Miller v. Spike Lee at Madison Square Garden, 1994 NBA playoffs).
3. Ray Allen
In terms off work ethic, very few in the game has worked harder than Ray Allen. Even though he’s in mid-30s, Allen continues to amaze with his incredible endurance and leg strength. Reggie Miller and Richard Hamilton were incredibly fit during their primes, but Ray Allen blows both of them away because he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Allen has taken the art of running off screens from Miller and enhanced it with his own style. Allen also has a unique shooting stroke because his release is uncanny and hard to teach. He may have one of the quickest shots in the sport, a shot so smooth and compact that it is almost perfect.
2. Larry Bird
In terms of technique or statistical achievement, Bird is not on par with his constituents. For his career, Bird was only a 37% shooter from 3-pointer range and never made more than 98 in one season. His career total of 649 doesn’t even crack the NBA’s top 100. Heck, J.R. Rider (667), Rodney Rogers (690) and George McCloud (920) made more threes than Bird. However, when the stakes are at its highest and the lights are at its brightest, very few can compare with Bird. Larry Legend saved some of his best shots during the postseason, helping the Celtics win three titles in 1980s. Adding to his legendary legacy, Bird was also unbeatable during All-Star Weekend. He entered the 3-point contest three times and won it three times. One time he didn’t bother to take off his warm-up jacket. That’s Larry Bird for you. He won’t wow you with stats or amazing highlight plays, but he is a pure assassin when it’s money time.
1. Stephen Curry
Wardell Stephen Curry is redefining shooting guard position. Yes, folks. He’s really a shooting guard masking as a point guard. The son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry could very well be the greatest basketball sniper we’ve ever seen. His resume speaks for itself. He holds the record for most 3-pointers made in a single season (402), and he has led the NBA in 3-pointers made four times. He also has remarkable range and accuracy. He can pull up from 25-feet or beyond with relative ease. He has never shot below 42% in a season from behind the arc and he shot 45% during his record-breaking season in 2015-16 when he shattered his own mark by hitting 116 more threes. NBA legend Jerry West said Curry is changing the way we look at the game. Throughout the history of basketball, the game was played inside-out. Winning the battle under the basket usually translates into championships. But Curry and the Golden State Warriors are shattering that mold. The 3-point shot has gone from a desperation move to a powerful weapon. Today’s basketball analytics say 3 beats 2 every time, and more and more teams are subscribing to that strategy. Steph has not only become the face of the NBA but he is setting the bar for a new generation of ballers.