For one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, a long-range shot is almost like a layup. Stephen Curry no doubt has a knack for knowing where the basket is at all times. He’s often put on a pedestal for his three-point shooting or wizardry with his handles. But outside of the fundamentals, Curry is also known to make shots that leave fans shaking their heads in awe and disbelief.
His most recent example came agains the San Antonio Spurs:
Curry was standing inside of the three-point line–on the other side of the court–when he launched this one. And what would just be a low-percentage prayer for any other player turns out to be a shot Curry has worked on in practice.
This video was from six years ago, when Curry, in China at the time, threw up a similar shot in warmups. And of course, it goes in.
It’s well known that Curry also practices his half-court shot in practice. It’s no surprise, then, that Curry can nail a shot anywhere on the basketball court. Below is a chart of every Steph Curry made three in his ten-year career, as of January 15, 2019. Note how many are much further beyond the three-point line.
Steph Curry Career 3s pic.twitter.com/STBcxazFDu
— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) January 15, 2019
With a few seconds left on the clock until the end of a quarter, teams usually just heave it up and will take the three points if it just happens to go in. Many players in today’s NBA don’t even take that heave because it’ll lower their shooting percentage.
However, Curry is so accurate that his teammates are actively looking for him with a couple of seconds remaining. Posting one clip of him nailing a half-court shot wouldn’t do him justice, so enjoy his uncanny half-court range, on full glorious display, in this career montage:
He’s the led the league twice in his career in made shots from 30 feet or beyond in a regular season. This year, he’s made 18 shots from 30 or more feet, which is second in the NBA behind Trae Young.
And no discussion of Curry’s long distance prowess would be complete without arguably his most famous shot: the game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2015-16 season. With five seconds left in overtime, Curry had the ball in his hands dribbling up-court. And even though he still had a couple seconds left on the clock to get closer, Curry stopped and unleashed this beauty of a shot from just inside the half-court line:
Curry’s unique sense of always knowing where the basket is unearths itself constantly in the form of crazy, absurd shots that have absolutely no business going in.
One of his craziest shots is not even during a game. Before every home game, Curry will take a shot from the hallway of the players’ tunnel in Oracle Arena–well outside of the basketball court. ESPN’s Sports Science estimates he’s about 52 feet away when he shoots these, and doesn’t have the luxury of a backboard to bank it in. Regardless, Curry still makes these shots on a regular basis.
Curry’s good eye for the basket translates in games too. Against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2015, Curry felt contact and was looking for the foul when he took this shot. Feeling the bump from a defender, Curry threw it up with one hand while he was falling to the ground. And while he was merely trying to earn three free throws, not surprisingly, one of the best shooters in the game banked it in.
His skillful handles and insane shot-making ability were on full display in this play against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015:
Driving into the teeth of the Clippers’ defense, Curry dribbled through the legs, and then behind his back to avoid the reaching hands of defenders. After evading a couple of Clippers, Curry found his way back to the three-point line, and without even having his feet set, he launched it. A terrible shot for every other player on the planet turned into three points for Steph Curry.
Against the Clippers again in the 2017-18 season, Curry had the ball in his hands with seconds winding down in the quarter:
Curry was drifting, his momentum carrying him to the right, when he put up this high-arcing just-under-half-court shot as the first quarter buzzer sounded. Nothing but net.
Many times, a good NBA shooter is merely a good shooter within the confines of normal basketball situations. And really, that’s all that’s needed to be a quality player. But Steph Curry is changing the way NBA defenses think by making them react and step up the second he reaches the half-court line. What once started out as simply “absurd” shot-making from Curry has now become a new normal.
Especially if the seconds are winding down in a quarter. And Curry is forced to launch a long-distance bomb. A long-range, off-balanced heave. No chance for almost any other player.
But for Steph? You hold your breath, watch the ball glide through the air, and can almost bank on it going in. Just like a layup for him.