Aside from Stephen Curry, the two players who each get the most consideration for being the greatest shooter of all time are Ray Allen and Klay Thompson. The reason is their sustained greatness as shooters, and pure efficiency have given them plenty of accolades over their respective careers. Ray Allen played in 18 seasons while Klay is going onto his 10th season in just a few months. Since they become All-Stars, their shooting ability has truly been impressive to watch, and they are ranked among the best to ever do it in terms of making shots from the perimeter.
Ray Allen is ranked 2nd all-time in three-pointers made with 2,973 and before Stephen Curry came along, he was considered the best to ever do it by usurping Reggie Miller for most threes made over a career. Allen also had tremendous success as a Hall of Fame player, making 10 All-Star Teams and 2 All-NBA Teams while also winning 2 NBA championships. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson has made 5 All-Star Teams and captured 4 NBA titles with the Golden State Warriors, along with holding the record for most three-pointers made in a game with 14.
Clearly, both Allen and Thompson are dominant players who made their living on the offensive end of the court. In order to distinguish between the two all-time great sharpshooters, it is time to compare the careers of both players by their most significant achievements to get an indication of which one had the better all-time career.
Ray Allen: 2 (2008, 2013)
Klay Thompson: 4 (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022)
Whenever a debate takes place between two Hall of Fame players, NBA championships are often the first thing that comes up. After all, winning is what matters most and the greatest player of all time must be a winner of the highest order. Both players have/will retire with NBA titles to their names, but Klay Thompson has 4 rings and ultimately has the advantage. This beats out Allen’s total and is essentially a massive edge in favor of Thompson in this comparison.
Ray Allen won 2 NBA titles with two different superteams in the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. His first came with the 2008 Celtics when Allen was the third-best player on a team that also featured Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Again, Allen was just as responsible for his ring as any other player on the roster because his sharpshooting was invaluable. Allen also captured a second title with a Miami Heat superteam led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Allen’s shot in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals will go down in history as one of the best plays in playoff history, but he does not have the number of championships that Klay has to his name.
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson managed to win 4 NBA rings with one of the NBA’s greatest dynasties with the Golden State Warriors. Alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, Klay helped form a dynamic trio that has stood the test of time until today. While Steph and even Kevin Durant often get the credit for the championship victories, Klay was always a suitable second or third option on the offensive end and often the best defensive player. No doubt about it, Klay was just as responsible for the Warriors’ rings as Steph or Durant.
Advantage: Klay Thompson
Finals MVP Awards
Ray Allen: 0
Klay Thompson: 0
Ray Allen never won a Finals MVP award, as he lost out on both his chances to Paul Pierce and LeBron James. Allen was the third-best player on the championship Celtics team of 2008, as Pierce was the best player in the Finals while Kevin Garnett was second place. Allen knew he had to sacrifice his numbers and his game to win a title, and didn’t mind doing it in favor of letting Pierce and Garnett carry them to a championship. In 2013, Allen was simply a role player behind a team of three superstar players. LeBron was the best player in the Finals, and Allen accepted a 4th or 5th option role in favor of capturing his second championship.
Similarly, Klay Thompson has 4 NBA titles, which is 2 more than Ray Allen, but he never managed to win a Finals MVP award. This is obvious because Klay had to play a secondary role to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, and never truly had a shot at winning the Finals MVP award as a result. Even in 2015, Klay was not in the mix as he lost out on the Finals MVP award to Andre Iguodala. Again, no knock on Klay, because the sharpshooter was unselfish enough to forego the award for the sake of the team.
In the end, neither player has a Finals MVP award, and that means there isn’t an advantage for either player during a comparison of their resumes.
Ray Allen: 0
Klay Thompson: 0
The MVP Award is also another major achievement that comes up in debates between star players. The MVP award shows who the best player is throughout an entire regular season, and in the case of most players throughout NBA history, it shows how many times they were the best player in the league. Unfortunately for either player, they never had a shot at winning the MVP award because they never quite managed to be the best player in the NBA at any point. There is nothing to be ashamed about there because both players played in eras where the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Stephen Curry, and Tim Duncan all dominated at respective times.
As great as Allen was, he never quite had the numbers or impact to be an MVP of the league. At 6’5” and 205 lbs, there was only so much he could do to carry a franchise, although he was the face of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise for a few years. The closest Allen got to winning the MVP was in 2005 when he finished in 9th place in MVP voting. Again, that should not take away from Allen’s legacy because he was exceptional in his role.
Klay Thompson also never came close to winning an MVP award, as he was usually overshadowed by his teammates, including Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. At times, Klay was also overshadowed by the more vocal Draymond Green. But Klay is an unselfish star, and will never mind playing second-fiddle if it meant winning NBA championships and also solidifying himself as one of the best shooters ever. In the end, neither player won an MVP award in their careers.
Ray Allen: 2 (1 Second Team, 1 Third Team)
Klay Thompson: 2 (2 Third Team)
Ray Allen was recognized for his longevity. He played 18 seasons and made the All-Star Team 10 times, something impressive and even more incredible considering he played in an era filled with elite guards with exceptional athleticism. Ray Allen was truly a bona fide star during his prime and was arguably the best knockdown shooter in the NBA when he aged. It can be argued that Allen should have made more than 2 All-NBA Teams as a result.
Klay Thompson also made 2 All-NBA Teams, and he has also made it clear that he deserves to get more recognition around the league. Klay has made no secret that he felt he belonged to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team and that he is often overlooked. Based on his championship success and resume so far, he might have a point. But as things stand, Klay does not have an edge over Ray Allen because they both have 2 All-NBA Team selections and the former Celtic did make a Second Team.
Ray Allen: 10
Klay Thompson: 5
Ray Allen was a 10-time All-Star, and he made the first 5 All-Star Teams in the 4th season of his career. The sharpshooter averaged 22.1 PPG in his first All-Star Team, and it would be the first of three straight with the Milwaukee Bucks. Allen would make 6 straight as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics and Boston Celtics, followed by his last All-Star Team appearance with the Celtics at age 35. Overall, Allen was a consistent All-Star presence because of his elite marksmanship and scoring ability. Earlier on, Allen was an explosive athlete who could get to the rim and also create his own offense, so he benefitted from that. As he aged, Allen was more of a spot-up shooter and still made All-Star Teams because of his efficiency.
Meanwhile, as Klay nears age 33, he has a total of 5 All-Star appearances. Thompson was always undermined by his superstar teammates, from Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant. Klay was therefore underrated for most of his career, but the fact remains he has half the number of All-Star Teams that Ray Allen has. Making 5 All-Star Teams is nothing to sniff at, and he has a chance to make a few more before his career is up. But as it stands, Klay has quite a margin to make up if he wishes to equal Ray Allen’s mark of 10 All-Star Team selections.
Advantage: Ray Allen
All-Defensive NBA Teams
Ray Allen: 0
Klay Thompson: 1 (Second Team)
Ray Allen was not a bad defender by any means, but he was not the best in his position at that end. Ray often focused on the offensive end, which is where his statistics truly shone, but he was also an above-average defender because of his basketball IQ. If statistics do not show in a player’s favor, it is hard for him to make an All-Defensive Team and that is what happened to Allen over his career. Even without an All-Defensive Team appearance, Ray Allen was known to be a very solid defensive player.
This one ends in Klay Thompson’s favor because he was a better perimeter defender than Ray. Klay is widely recognized as one of the best two-way perimeter players in the game. Unfortunately, Klay’s stats never compared to other elite defenders, which is why he was never selected to more All-Defensive Teams. But Thompson has the size, basketball IQ, and desire to be a decent defender and was often placed on the opposing team’s best players as a result. In the end, Klay has made an All-Defensive Team and Ray Allen did not, giving the Warriors star the edge.
Advantage: Klay Thompson
Total Win Shares
Ray Allen: 145.1
Klay Thompson: 48.5
Win Shares is a statistic that tries to allocate a team’s wins for each player on the roster. For example, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar owns the single-season record for Win Shares with 25.4 during 1971-72 on a Milwaukee Bucks team that won 63 games. In terms of contributing to a winning side and helping his side to win games consistently, it is obvious Ray Allen has a better win shares rating than Klay Thompson. The Hall of Fame shooting guard was always a threat when he had open shots, and his constant movement eventually made him a legendary perimeter shooter.
For whatever reason, this advanced statistic shows that Klay Thompson was not as responsible for his team’s victories as Ray Allen was. While that narrative can be argued depending on their teammates and all-around talent in the league, Ray Allen clearly blows Thompson out of the water in this category. It might have to do with the fact that Klay has always been a second or third option over his career, and his statistics have taken a hit as a result. Meanwhile, Ray has been the number one option in his career multiple times and has better stats. No matter what the reason is, Klay’s win shares rating is not as good as Ray Allen’s.
Advantage: Ray Allen
Career Player Efficiency Rating
Ray Allen: 18.6
Klay Thompson: 16.4
Player Efficiency Rating, better known as PER, is a statistic created by John Hollinger that’s goal is to give each NBA player a comprehensive rating. Hollinger’s PER metric is unique because it combines a player’s positive and negative contributions on the court.
Chris Paul ranks 135th all-time in PER, with a figure of 18.6. That is still a strong rating considering there have not been many NBA players with at least 18 PER ratings. For a shooting guard with limited impact in terms of physicality, Allen’s PER is quite strong when compared to other shooting guards in his era. Allen was an elite shooter with an average of 45.2% from the field and 40.0% from the three-point line.
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson does not rank among the top 250 players in NBA history in PER rating, which means he was not quite a star by this metric. Clearly, this is inaccurate because Klay’s impact came on the court and not on paper. A factor that might have hurt Klay’s rating would be his lack of impressive statistics in an all-around sense. Outside of his solid shooting percentages (45.8% FG, 41.7% 3-PT FG), Klay’s numbers are not comparable to Allen’s.
Advantage: Ray Allen
Ray Allen vs. Klay Thompson 3-2
Ray Allen Has A Slight Edge Over Klay Thompson
This is a very close career comparison, as both players are exceptional offensive players with beautiful jump shots. In terms of getting buckets, Ray Allen is one of the best in his era. The man was unstoppable when he had an open look, mainly because he had one of the purest jumpers in NBA history. But Ray wasn’t always a spot-up shooter, as he had elite speed and explosiveness in his prime, which saw him average at least 21 PPG for 8 seasons in his carer. Even as his athleticism waned with his age, he was able to score points thanks to his automatic jumper, and that is why he is one of the top scorers in his position. In terms of all-time regular-season rankings, Allen is currently sitting 25th among prior and active players.
Klay Thompson has not played as long as Allen has in the NBA, and his scoring numbers pale in comparison to his counterpart. Klay is ranked 235th all-time in points scored, and he has a chance to climb the rankings before it is all said and done. But as things stand, Klay has a long way to go to equal Allen’s scoring record and he might never achieve it when considering the Warriors star is heading to 33 years of age next year. But Klay is still an excellent scorer, averaging 19.5 PPG over his career and it can be argued he is a better defender than Ray Allen.
But in the end, Allen has a slight career advantage over Klay Thompson and it will likely remain the case when Klay retires. Ray Allen earns the advantages in this career comparison so far because of his incredible longevity and his luck of being a first option in the early part of his career. That gave Allen the advantage of appearing in many more All-Star Games and also padding his scoring stats because, as a pure scorer, it can be argued Ray was better than Klay. Of course, championships do matter and there will be arguments for Klay as the better overall player over a career. But in terms of this career comparison, Ray Allen is considered the better player with the better career.