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The Most Career 3-Pointers Made By Position: Stephen Curry Leads The Point Guards, LeBron James Will Lead The Small Forwards Very Soon

The Most Career 3-Pointers Made By Position: Stephen Curry Leads The Point Guards, LeBron James Will Lead The Small Forwards Very Soon

Teams in the modern NBA are entirely in love with the three-point shot and often live and die by the outside shot. The idea is simple: the three-point shot puts the most points on the board, and more attempts mean more points. That is why sharpshooters are paid a massive premium in today’s game because spacing and relaxed defensive rules allow for better ball movement and quality looks from the perimeter. The presence of shooters also allows the paint to be more open, allowing for easy buckets at the rim.

With Stephen Curry completely changing the game with his shooting, this style of basketball is probably here to stay. Even before Stephen Curry, we had the likes of Reggie Miller and even Ray Allen as the most impactful long-distance shooters in the league. The three-point shot has always been a valuable weapon, but the Golden State Warriors legend made it “cool” to jack up threes as much as possible.

It is widely known that Stephen Curry is the all-time leader in three-pointers made and also the greatest 3-point shooter by a point guard. As such, he ranks 1st all-time among point guards in terms of threes made. We know he creates his own shot better than anyone from behind the arc, and his off-ball movement is sublime. But who is behind him in the all-time list of three-pointers made by point guards? What about the other positions? We have collected the 10 greatest 3-point shooters ever based on their positions to determine which sharpshooters are the most consistent throughout NBA history. Here is the 3-point leader by each position on the all-time rankings, followed up by the current runner-up.


Point Guard

Stephen Curry - 3,117 Threes Made (7,290 Attempts, 42.8%)

2nd Place: Damian Lillard - 2,143 Threes Made (5,752 Attempts, 37.3%)

Stephen Curry has built an entire Hall of Fame career off of being a three-point shooter, and he has done it better than anyone else. Curry has never shot under 38% per season in his entire career (other than the 2020 season when he played 5 games), along with incredible averages of shooting at least 41% for 11 seasons. Steph moves terrifically off the ball and has a nice rainbow shot that gets fans off their seats. Because of his shooting alone, Curry has changed the NBA for good. No surprise, he is also the greatest three-point shooter of all time.

Current Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard is averaging a career 37.3% from three, a number that is very impressive for a player who is required to do the bulk of the ball-handling and scoring. Soon after getting drafted with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Lillard blossomed into a superstar scorer and elite deep-range shooter. The point guard shot 36.8% from three in his first season in Portland and would nail over 37% from three over his next 9seasons. Lillard has the ability to make shots from anywhere on the court, and his shots from near the NBA’s logo could be his most attractive attribute beyond his tremendous explosiveness. Lillard has a ways to go to equal Curry’s record that the Warriors star will continue to add to, but being runner-up to Steph is certainly an achievement on its own when it comes to three-point shooting.


Shooting Guard

Ray Allen - 2,973 Threes Made (7,429 Attempts, 40.0%)

2nd Place: James Harden - 2,593 Threes Made (7,176 Attempts, 36.1%)

Hall of Famer Ray Allen was a terrific shooter and was always consistent with his stroke. The guard had his brightest moment as a professional during the 2013 season with the Miami Heat when he nailed arguably the biggest shot in Finals history in Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs. That shot going in was due to years of working on his craft because Allen made an effort to become an all-time great shooter. Averaging 18.9 PPG over his 18-year career, Allen’s job was to let fly at any time he felt comfortable because the percentages were off the charts.

Not known as a natural shooter and considered an all-time great scorer, James Harden ranks 2nd all-time among shooting guards when it comes to three-point shooting, even beyond Reggie Miller. Harden ranks 3rd all-time among players in threes made, a testament to his willingness to take any three-point shot he wants. Shooting 36.1% is quite good considering Harden’s usage rate, and the shooting guard was able to climb up the rankings because of his patented step-back three. We have seen players try to mimic Harden’s move, including Luka Doncic, because it has proven to be extremely potent.


Small Forward

Paul Pierce - 2,143 Threes Made (5,816 Attempts, 36.8%)

2nd Place: LeBron James - 2,140 Threes Made (6,186 Attempts, 34.6%)

One of the greatest Boston Celtics players of all time, Paul Pierce, was more than just a mid-range scorer. The Truth is one of the most gifted scorers we have ever seen, but also an accurate three-point shooter. Nailing almost 37% of his threes over 19 seasons in the league, Pierce was always a threat when it came to making open three-point shots. The All-Star small forward was also capable of making contested threes, mainly through his slow but effective step-back. Pierce had a strong body and could create space through a little bump before draining shots. But most likely, Pierce will no longer have the record among small forwards by next season.

Believe it or not, LeBron James will lead all small forwards in NBA history when it comes to three-point shots made next season. The King is only 3 three-pointers away from equalling Pierce, even if he will never be considered an elite shooter. James is nailing 34.6% from three over his career, which is average at best, but he has shown the willingness to adapt his game to fit the modern era. The King realizes that the three-point shot could be the key to longevity, and it has certainly worked because the small forward is going into his 20th season next year. LeBron has only shot at least 37% from three in two seasons, with his career-high coming in 2013 when he made 40.6% from deep. Amazingly, James will not only become the leading scorer of all time next year but also the most historic three-point shooter by small forwards.


Power Forward

Dirk Nowitzki - 1,982 Threes Made (5,210 Attempts, 38.0%)

2nd Place: Kevin Love - 1,467 Threes Made (3,935 Attempts, 37.3%)

A Hall of Fame and all-time great player that played for one team over his career, Dirk Nowitzki was always known for his proficiency as a sharpshooter. Drafted No. 9 overall in the 1998 NBA Draft, Nowitzki would find significant playing time in his second season, where he averaged 35.8 MPG and 17.5 PPG. Dirk shot 37.9% from three and would go on to have a historic career when it comes to shooting. Nowitzki would finish his career in 2019 and had a resume that included 11 seasons shooting at least 38% from the three-point line. Very few players had the consistency that Dirk had, which was the main reason why Nowitzki is considered a top-35 player of all time.

Amazingly, Kevin Love ranks 2nd all-time among power forwards when it comes to three-point shooting. Love has been a power forward for the majority of his career and so far is less than 550 threes made away from passing Dirk. The Cleveland Cavaliers big man was an elite post scorer in his prime but found out he was more effective in draining outside shots. Love is shooting 37.3% from deep over his career and has 7 seasons of nailing at least 37% of his threes. An accurate shooter with a quick release, Love’s 6’8” height was certainly a positive factor in his percentages.


Center

Karl-Anthony Towns - 779 Threes Made (1,961 Attempts, 39.7%)

2nd Place: Kelly Olynyk - 734 Threes Made (2,011 Attempts, 36.5%)

Out of all the three-point shooters among centers, no player has surpassed Karl-Anthony Towns in terms of volume. The current Minnesota Timberwolves star has had an incredible resume which includes being the first center ever to win the coveted Three-Point Contest. Remember, Towns has stated before that he believes he is the greatest shooting big man of all time. Unless Dirk Nowitzki and even Kevin Love are considered big men, that is not true. But as a center, it is hard to argue against Towns being the very best. Nailing almost 40% for his career, Karl-Anthony Towns is truly a special talent.

Surprisingly, Kelly Olynyk ranks 2nd all-time among centers in three-pointers made. The big man is not an elite shooter by any means, but his ability to space the floor as a big man has seen the player gain significant playing time over the past few seasons. Kelly can play inside and outside, but he seems most effective when he is draining outside shots. Shooting 36.5% from three over his career is very impressive for a center, especially since he has made over 700 three-pointers. Olynyk will likely never catch Towns, a player who is 5 years younger and has at least 6 more years at an All-Star level when it comes to shooting. 

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