Free-throw shooting is considered an art because it is a chance for players to generate easy points for their teams. With no defense and just the rim in front of a player, an accurate free-throw shot is critical in winning situations. That is why all-time great players generally have high shooting percentages from the stripe.
But which players are the greatest free-throw shooters of all time? We collected the 10 best free-throw shooters ever, based on their percentages from the stripe on a minimum of 2,000 made shots from the stripe. While some names are expected, including the greatest shooter alive, but some other names could surprise you considering their under-the-radar style of play. Without further ado, here are the best free-throw shooters of all time.
10. Calvin Murphy - 89.16% (3445 FTM)
3.4 - 3.9 (FTM - FTA)
One of the greatest Houston Rockets players of all time, Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy averaged 17.9 PPG and 4.4 APG over his career. The 5’9” point guard was incredibly undersized but had the skill and agility to make his impact felt whenever he suited up for the Houston franchise. A second-round pick, Houston never thought that Murphy would develop into the player he became. Averaging over 20 PPG in 5 separate seasons, Murphy made his only All-Star appearance during the 1979 season.
Calvin Murphy nailed over 89% of his free throws, using his agility and cleverness to make over 3,400 free throw shots over his Hall of Fame career. Despite being undersized, Calvin knew how to take contact and use it to his advantage by getting hot from the stripe. He shot over 90% from the stripe in 6 separate seasons, leading the league in 2 seasons (95.8%, 92.0%) and making a name for himself as a man who should never be fouled by any means.
9. J.J. Redick - 89.18% (2060 FTM)
2.2 - 2.5 (FTM - FTA)
J.J. Redick was a great college player, taking his shooting and translating it to the NBA where knocking down shots was the easiest thing for the shooting guard. Redick is one of the greatest off-ball players of his generation, using picks and running off screens to catch and shoot. He averaged 41.5% from three, 44.7% from the field, and 89.18% from the stripe. While Redick was mainly effective at shooting spot-up shots or off the dribble jumpers, he was proficient from the stripe.
Redick made a little over 2,000 free throws over his career, coming close to nearly 90% proficiency. The shooting guard wasn’t the most explosive, but he could draw fouls when he found himself cleverly forcing defenders to tightly contest his shots. The shooting guard played for many franchises over his career, but he was always consistent from the stripe.
8. Damian Lillard - 89.30% (3788 FTM)
5.5 - 6.1 (FTM - FTA)
It is always refreshing to see current NBA players among the all-time rankings in statistics because the game has changed so much it truly is unbelievable. The presence of three-point shooting has changed the way teams prepare for games, and the playbook is catering to pace and space. Out of all the current stars playing today, only two will make this list. One of them is Damian Lillard, a star who made the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Lillard is known for his deep range and clutch shooting from deep, but he is a terrific free-throw shooter.
While his numbers and free-throw attempts are down this year following rule changes, Lillard has made a living from the free-throw line. Dame is averaging 6 free-throw attempts per game for his career, an extraordinary number that can be explained by the relaxed rules over the last decade. But Lillard is nearly draining 90% of his shots, indicating that his marksmanship is the main reason he is one of the greatest 75 players to ever play the game.
7. Ray Allen - 89.39% (4398 FTM)
3.4 - 3.8 (FTM - FTA)
A legend and Hall of Famer, Ray Allen was considered the greatest shooter of all time before a particular Warriors superstar came along. The argument for the greatest shooter ever often involved Ray Allen and Reggie Miller’s names thrown in the mix, because of their deep-range accuracy. Allen was a terrific defender and all-around scorer, but his perimeter shooting was by far his best skill. Ray made a career (10 All-Star Teams, 2 All-NBA Teams) out of being a knockdown shooter, and currently leads all players in total 3-point shots made.
While that three-point record will be broken soon, being the second place is nowhere near a bad thing. But Allen was also a proficient free-throw shooter, averaging over 89% for his career. The former SuperSonics and Celtics superstar was explosive early in his career and later chose his spots to attack the rim as he aged. Either way, Ray averaged nearly 4 free-throw attempts per game and was guaranteed 3 makes at the least. Ray Allen averaged at least 90% shooting from the stripe 10 times, making him an all-time great marksman.
6. Chauncey Billups - 89.40% (4496 FTM)
4.3 - 4.8 (FTM - FTA)
Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups is mainly known for his clutch shooting and also his leadership on the floor. Despite possessing average athleticism and explosiveness, Billups was a powerful point guard who knew how to be effective on both ends of the floor. A 5-time All-Star, Billups also made 3 All-NBA Teams and 2 All-Defensive Teams. By far his biggest impact came in the 2004 Finals, where he was the undisputed leader and best player for the Pistons that won the championship.
Billups was a solid shooter over his career, nailing 38.7% of his shots from three and also 89.4% of his free throws. Chauncey was a solid scorer, often using his deep range to get his points and also using his powerful frame to attack the rim and draw fouls. Billups amazingly made 4,496 free throws over his career, an unbelievable number considering he shot such a high percentage while averaging nearly 5 free throws per game. Billups was a quiet scorer, but when he was at the line (which was often), the point guard was nearly automatic as he shot over 90% from the line 7 different seasons in his career.
5. Peja Stojakovic - 89.48% (2237 FTM)
2.8 - 3.1 (FTM - FTA)
A 3-time All-Star and one of the greatest European players to ever play professional basketball, Peja Stojakovic was a special shooter. He averaged 40.1% from three over his career, including 45.0% from the field and 89.48% from the free-throw line. Peja made a living with his shooting, leading the NBA in free-throw percentage on two separate occasions (92.7%, 92.9%). Amazingly, Peja never shot under 85% from the line in any season and averaged over 90% shooting in 5 different seasons.
Stojakovic was generally out on the perimeter to get his shots but still averaged around 3 free-throws a game for his career. Peja was automatic when he got to the line, so the scouting report greatly encouraged preventing him from getting there by all means. Stojakovic struggled to stay healthy for the majority of his career which did derail an otherwise great career, but his free-throw accuracy will always remain the stuff of legends for generations to come.
4. Rick Barry - 89.98% (3818 FTM)
4.8 - 5.3 (FTM - FTA)
Rick Barry was a superstar in the ABA and the NBA and did everything on the floor at an elite level for both organizations. But as a member of the NBA, Rick Barry was the 4th greatest free-throw shooter ever. Barry was truly an all-around superstar, averaging 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 4.9 APG over his career. An 8-time All-Star in the NBA, Barry also won an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors and also captured the Finals MVP.
But out of all the things Rick Barry did at an elite level, his free-throw shooting stood out the most. The 6’7” small forward was unstoppable when he attacked the rim because he had the aggressiveness and size to handle the pressure that was thrown at him. But oftentimes, he was fouled. Barry made an incredible 3,800 free-throws over his NBA career, shooting a shade under 90%. That is truly incredible, considering he was averaging around 5 free-throw attempts per game. Rick Barry is a Hall of Famer because of his all-around talent but his strength from the stripe certainly helped his case.
3. Mark Price - 90.39% (2135 FTM)
3.0 - 3.3 (FTM - FTA)
One of the all-time great Cleveland Cavaliers stars, Mark Price made his name by making 4 All-Star appearances and also leading the franchise into multiple playoff runs. As a controlled scorer and playmaker, Price was truly a star player for Cleveland’s franchise for many years. Averaging a career 15.2 PPG and 6.7 APG for his career, Price made a living by scoring the ball from deep and also attacking the rim with force.
But Price was a special free-throw shooter, nailing over 90% of his shots from the line. Price averaged around 3 free-throws a game for his career, and would often make them all. Price led the NBA in free-throw percentage in 3 different seasons (94.7%, 94.8%, 90.6%) and never shot under 83% for any season. Mark Price is a Cleveland legend, but he is one of the greatest free-throw shooters of all time and is only behind two other great shooters in that regard.
2. Steve Nash - 90.43% (3060 FTM)
2.5 - 2.8 (FTM - FTA)
A two-time MVP known for his playmaking, Steve Nash is a first-ballot Hall of Fame talent. Very few point guards can create shots for others like Nash, and the Canadian superstar did it consistently for a very long time. But other than being an all-time great playmaker, Steve Nash was a sensational shooter. From three, Nash shot 42.8% and also 49.0% from the field overall. Nash picked his spots and always had a perfect stroke from everywhere on the court.
But Nash was most deadly from the stripe. Making over 3,000 free throws and shooting over 90% for a career is simply ridiculous, and the point guard had the routine to follow as well. As soon as Nash would lick his fingers and release the ball from the stripe, a “swish” would soon follow. Nash was automatic from the stripe, making over 2 free throws a game over his career and making it look effortless. However, only one player is better than Nash at free-throw shooting and he happens to be the greatest all-around shooter ever.
1. Stephen Curry - 90.80% (2972 FTM)
3.8 - 4.2 (FTM - FTA)
Unsurprisingly, Stephen Curry tops the chart in this shooting category. The superstar point guard is considered the best marksman in NBA history, but he is often remembered for his three-pointers. After all, we have not seen a player create his own offense from beyond like Curry, and he has been doing it since he became a premier All-Star in the league. But other than three-point shooting, Curry does it from 15 feet as well.
His quick release and tucked shoulders allow for a consistent stroke every time he releases the ball from the stripe, and he is getting there around two times a game for his career. He is near perfection from the line over his career, inching close to 91%. With over 2,900 free throws made and counting, we will likely never see a player as accurate as Curry from the stripe. It is simple: Curry is the greatest all-around shooter ever and his free-throw shooting accuracy is yet another example of that.