The most important aspect of modern NBA offenses is the three-point shot because it makes or breaks a team over the course of an individual game. Making more threes at a higher percentage than the opponent normally gives a team the best chance to win games, because 3 points on the board per possession is much more impactful than two points. Of course, it also beats out taking and missing free throws.
But which players are considered the greatest shooters ever? Stephen Curry (2,977) has passed Ray Allen for the most threes in NBA history (2,973) after a 5-14 shooting performance against the New York Knicks, an incredible feat considering Steph is only 33 years old with plenty of time to continue adding to his incredible record. Quite simply, Curry’s shooting has been alarmingly special and we never thought we would ever see Ray Allen or even Reggie Miller get surpassed at taking shots from the perimeter. But where do these rank among the all-time greatest three-point shooters?
We have ranked the 15 best shooters ever based on skill, consistency, percentages, and total threes made. We will also take into account each player’s impact as a shooter and what they did in their respective eras. Without further ado, here are the 15 greatest shooters in NBA history.
1787 - 4625 (3PTM - 3PTA), 38.6 3PT%, 1,049 Games Played
22nd In 3PM
93rd in 3P%
Mainly known for his exploits as a floor-spacing power forward and All-Star with the Orlando Magic, Rashard Lewis was a great player during his prime with the Seattle SuperSonics as well. The 6’10” power forward was effective at spotting up for threes and also getting open for his patented arcing jumper that would normally hit straight-net.
Lewis is easily one of the best three-point shooters ever because he ranks 22nd in threes made all-time despite attempting less than 5 threes per game over his career. The former No. 32 overall pick was especially effective playing alongside Dwight Howard in Orlando because he got unlimited open looks and often drained them with ease.
15. Dale Ellis
1719 - 4266 (3PTM - 3PTA), 40.3 3PT%, 1,209 Games Played
25th In 3PM
32nd in 3P%
Dale Ellis is not a name that many people will know, but he was one of the best shooters in NBA history. The 6’7” small forward was an unspectacular rookie after getting drafted No. 9 overall in the 1983 NBA Draft and averaged under 10 PPG for 3 straight seasons. However, he blossomed into the Most Improved Player in his 4th season after averaging 24.9 PPG on 35.8% shooting from three.
It would take another 2 seasons before Ellis would make his first All-Star and All-NBA Team, averaging 27.5 PPG on a whopping 47.8% shooting from three. Dale Ellis would shoot over 40% from three in 11 separate seasons, and had seasons draining over 45% on two occasions. Had Ellis played in today’s game, we are looking at a top-10 shooter ever but 15th place is certainly not bad at all.
14. Steve Kerr
726 - 1599 (3PTM - 3PTA), 45.4 3PT%, 910 Games Played
220nd In 3PM
1st in 3P%
Steve Kerr was never a star, and not a single stat across his career averages stand out except one: his three-point percentage. The 5-time NBA champion leads all players in 3-point shooting at 45.4%, an incredible number that will be hard for any player to reach. Even when Kerr became a Hall of Fame head coach, players under him such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Kevin Durant were not able to shoot over 45% from three.
Kerr was a master at taking his opportunities and making defenses pay for sagging off him. Playing with the greatest player ever in Michael Jordan certainly helped his career, because Kerr was able to take advantage of open space to let loose his perfect jumper. Kerr only made 726 threes, but playing in the 90s did not help his total numbers. But picking his shots certainly helped him have the greatest 3-point percentage ever.
13. Dirk Nowitzki
1982 - 5210 (3PTM - 3PTA), 38.0 3PT%, 1,522 Games Played
13th In 3PM
131st in 3P%
Easily a top-50 player of all-time and former NBA champion and MVP, Dirk Nowitzki was one of the first dominant shooting big men in the league. The big German stood 7’0” and with an incredibly high-arcing jump shot, Nowitzki’s shots were never blocked. Dirk could fire shots over any defender in the league and had no problem draining close to 2,000 threes over his illustrious career.
Nowitzki ranks 13th in total threes made, an incredible feat for a power forward. The Dallas Mavericks were incredibly fortunate to have Dirk in their ranks because a player like him comes once in a lifetime. Whenever Dirk was not draining threes, he was doing damage from mid-range with an unstoppable fadeaway shot that was the stuff of legends. Dirk is one of the NBA's greatest legends, and his shooting was the main reason why.
12. JJ Redick
1950 - 4704 (3PTM - 3PTA), 41.5 3PT%, 940 Games Played
15th In 3PM
17th in 3P%
Despite being a role player for the entirety of his career, JJ Redick was one of the most impactful shooters in NBA history. The former Duke legend shot 41.5% from three over his career and ranks 15th in total threes made. It is amazing how Redick averaged 25.5 MPG in his career yet was able to make over 1,900 three-pointers.
The shooting guard played for 6 different franchises in his career, with the highlights of his career coming as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers. Redick averaged 17.6 PPG in two seasons with the 76ers on 40.7% shooting from three, and 15.8 PPG on 44.0% shooting with the Clippers. Everywhere Redick went, he was able to make an impact with his deep-range shooting and is one of the greatest players ever at coming off screens for jumpers.
11. Steve Nash
1685 - 3939 (3PTM - 3PTA), 42.8 3PT%, 1,217 Games Played
27th In 3PM
11th in 3P%
One of the greatest passers ever, Steve Nash was also an offensive force thanks to his long-range shooting. The point guard could create a shot for anyone on the floor but could also drain his outside shots with a perfect jumper at any time. The 2-time MVP is 11th in all-time three-point percentage despite taking less than 4000 threes in his Hall of Fame career.
Nash should have shot the ball more because he was proficient from anywhere on the court as well. The Canadian superstar shot 49.0% from the field in his career, including 42.8% from three and 90.4% from the free-throw line. Averaging close to 50-40-90 from the field over a career is ridiculous, and Nash is easily one of the best shooters to ever grace the court.
10. Kevin Durant
1703 - 4439 (3PTM - 3PTA), 38.4 3PT%, 910 Games Played
26th In 3PM
108th in 3P%
An all-time great scorer with an unstoppable skill set, Kevin Durant is also one of the best shooters ever. The 4-time scoring champion has an incredible three-point shot in his arsenal, shooting 38.4% from deep and also making over 1,700 threes in over 900 games. Durant should be much higher on the list of all-time threes made, but his unselfishness prevents him from scoring the ball more.
Still, Durant is one of the greats at stroking it from deep even if his all-time makes and percentages are not comparable to other players on this list. If a coach had to draw up a play for one player to make a long-range shot, Durant’s name is one of the first that would come up immediately. The lengthy forward seems to be getting better with age as well, because he continues to shoot at an elite level.
9. Peja Stojakovic
1760 - 4392 (3PTM - 3PTA), 40.1 3PT%, 804 Games Played
23rd In 3PM
46th in 3P%
Peja Stojakovic is one of the greatest foreign players in NBA history because he is one of the best shooters to have ever graced the hardwood. Stojakovic shot over 40% over his career and made over 1700 threes, thanks to mainly his time with the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Hornets. With Peja on the squad, the Kings came within a few games of an NBA title if not for the juggernaut Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Peja was a knockdown shooter whether he created for himself or had others create for him. The Serbian star was a major part of the Kings franchise that was a force in the Western Conference during the 2000s and deserves to be recognized as a top-15 shooter ever. After all, averaging over 40% shooting from three in 6 different seasons is an amazing feat.
8. Larry Bird
649 - 1727 (3PTM - 3PTA), 37.6 3PT%, 897 Games Played
255th In 3PM
165th in 3P%
It is unbelievable and very unfortunate that Larry Bird only made 649 threes in his Hall of Fame career because he played in an era where long-range shooting was not encouraged. Instead, Bird made the most of what the 80s encouraged and brought his competitive style of play to the court every night. Larry even shot above 40% from three in 6 different seasons, despite never attempting more than 3’s per game on average in any season.
Easily one of the top-12 players ever, Larry Bird does not rank anywhere near the other players on this list in total threes made. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Bird won three straight 3-Point Contests, and has countless clutch baskets from beyond in competitive matchups. Larry Legend should have played in today’s game because if he did, we are looking at a top-5 shooter ever without a doubt.
7. James Harden
2509 - 6918 (3PTM - 3PTA), 36.3 3PT%, 903 Games Played
4th In 3PM
254th in 3P%
James Harden is not the most efficient shooter in the NBA, but he is without a doubt an all-time great scorer from deep. The Beard can create his own shot from anywhere on the floor and has been known to attract double and triple teams from opposing teams. Most times, he is run off the three-point line and forced into passing the ball to his teammates.
Harden has found out that three-pointers, layups, and free-throw shots are the best way to generate a ton of points per possession. The Beard is 4th all-time in threes made, an extraordinary number even for a player who takes as many shots as Harden does. Even if he takes a lot of threes that are normally contested and considered “bad shots”, there is no denying Harden’s talent as an all-time great shooter because of his willingness to build his game around that facet of offense.
6. Kyle Korver
2450 - 5715 (3PTM - 3PTA), 42.9 3PT%, 1,232 Games Played
5th In 3PM
10th in 3P%
Running off screens and nailing jumpers is what Kyle Korver does best, and he did it better than almost every player in NBA history. Playing until his very late 30s, Korver had an incredibly long career after getting drafted with the No. 51 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. No one expected Korver to become an impactful player, because he was quite limited in athleticism and was not known for much other than shooting at a stand-still.
But the shooting guard/small forward made an entire career off his shooting gifts. Korver never needed the ball to be effective because he is one of the greatest shooters to ever grace the court when moving off the ball. The shooting guard ranks 5th all-time in threes made and 10th in 3-point percentage, extraordinary numbers for a guy who was a role player with a career average of 25.3 MPG.
5. Klay Thompson
1798 - 4290 (3PTM - 3PTA), 41.9 3PT%, 615 Games Played
21st In 3PM
14th in 3P%
Stephen Curry’s “Splash Brother” in Golden State, Klay Thompson is without a doubt a top-5 shooter ever. Thompson does not get enough credit for being a consistent threat from deep because of his superstar teammate, but nailing 41.9% from three over his career is truly amazing for a player that lives at the three-point line.
Remember, Klay is the player that holds the record for most threes in the game (14). Thompson also scored 60 points through 3 quarters in only 11 dribbles, an indication of how special of a shooter he is. Klay “only” ranks 21st in threes made, but he will climb up the ranks as soon as he gets back on the court full-time. It is also worth mentioning that of every player playing right now, Klay has the most expectation to break his own record for most threes in a single game because he tends to heat up in the most magical way.
4. Damian Lillard
2114 - 5680 (3PTM - 3PTA), 37.2 3PT%, 704 Games Played
10th In 3PM
189th in 3P%
Even if he does not shoot the highest percentage from three out of the rest of the players on this list, Damian Lillard is one of the greatest shooters ever because of his unlimited range. Lillard can literally drain contested shots from 35 feet and has no problem taking them in the most crucial situations. How many times have we seen Lillard pull up from deep to win games in Portland’s favor? Remember, Dame was the man to end the Paul George experiment in Oklahoma City and also the Dwight Howard era in Houston.
Armed with a long-range sniper that he can pull out against any opponent, the 31-year-old is already 10th in three-pointers made and has plenty more to accomplish in this game. Nailing over 37% from deep despite averaging 8.1 attempts over his career is truly extraordinary and he is nowhere finished at 31 years old.
3. Reggie Miller
2560 - 6486 (3PTM - 3PTA), 39.5 3PT%, 1,389 Games Played
3rd In 3PM
61st in 3P%
Reggie Miller is a legend and one of the greatest players in the 90s era. Even if he never captured an MVP Award or an NBA championship, Miller was a force on the court and was a part of a great Indiana Pacers squad that made the NBA Finals in 2000. With his clutch shooting and long-range prowess, Reggie was a one-of-a-kind offensive player.
He held the three-point record for most threes for a long time, although he never benefited from playing in the modern era. Had Reggie played in today’s game, he might have been an even more impactful superstar on the court. Either way, Miller ranks 3rd all-time behind two other players who passed him in total threes made.
2. Ray Allen
2973 - 7429 (3PTM - 3PTA), 40.00 3PT%, 1,300 Games Played
2nd In 3PM
48th in 3P%
Ray Allen made history when he broke Reggie Miller’s record for most threes made because we never would have thought that a shooting guard could make more outside shots. Armed with a consistent jumper that was perfect in any situation, Ray Allen made over 2,900 three-pointers in his career as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.
Allen was known to have practiced thousands of shots per week and made sure that he would get his jumper off in any in-game situation. He was a valuable member of the Celtics team that would win an NBA title and made arguably the biggest shot in playoff history when his corner three saved the Miami Heat in Game 6. Allen was proficient with his 40.0% average from three, but he is being the greatest shooter in the history of basketball.
1. Stephen Curry
2977 - 6903 (3PTM - 3PTA), 43.1 3PT%, 789 Games Played
1st In 3PM
7th in 3P%
As expected, the man who holds the record for most threes made is the greatest shooter ever. After last night’s game, Curry is now 4 three-pointers clear of Ray Allen for the top spot and he is not slowing down soon. Thanks to his deep-range prowess and unlimited range, Steph completely changed the game for the foreseeable future. Steph took a whopping 29 three-pointers over the last two games, an indication that he might have the biggest green light in basketball history.
Teams are always scrambling to plan for ways to stop Curry on the court, and are willing to give up layups if it means stopping the point guard from draining threes. We have seen some special shooters in the NBA including Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, but neither player could create their own shot from three and attract 3 defenders on them at a time. Ranking 1st in 3PM and 7th in percentage, Steph will likely remain the best shooter ever for the rest of eternity.