Shooters are a valuable asset for any team. They space the floor and keep their teams in a winning position. Here, we take a look at the best shooters in NBA history, ranking shooters from 20 to one.
In an attempt to do so without bias, we’re going to base our best shooters in NBA history ranking on stats, awards and general success in the league. Different eras will, obviously, skew numbers in one direction or the other, making this an inexact science.
20. Dale Ellis
Dale Ellis didn’t really shine bright in his rookie year. However after riding the bench of the Dallas Mavericks for three seasons, he eventually emerged to become one of the best players for the now defunct franchise, Seattle Supersonics.
Ellis made his mark in shooting, to the point, he even proclaimed himself to be one of the best shooters in NBA history. He was the record-holder for the most points scored in a season by a Seattle Supersonic until 2009-2010, as he logged in 2,253 points during the 1988-1989 season which was enough to name him an All-Star.
Furthermore, he also bagged the NBA Three-Point Contest Trophy in that same season. It is also worth noting that he was the first player to make 1,000 three-pointers in a season and also the first player to make two four-point plays in a single game. With his confidence and shooting achievements, it should be enough to consider him in the Top 20 greatest shooters in NBA history.
19. James Harden
With the NBA today evolving into a three-point shooting league, James Harden has definitely become one of the players that have flourished in the league. In his career, The Beard has achieved a lot in terms of scoring. He has bagged the NBA Scoring Champion twice and also became the league’s MVP in 2018. Obviously, he’s also one of the best shooters in NBA history.
Harden is a different shooter compared to the traditional catch-and-shoot players. He makes a lot of his long distance shots by utilizing his step-back maneuver in isolation. Despite the unorthodox method, Harden makes it look easy as he can drop 9 or 10 triples anytime he gets hot. Furthermore, it is worth noting that he is the all-time leader in most unassisted three-point conversions and four-point play makes.
Because of his ability to make his shots off the dribble, there’s no doubt he should be part of the Top 20 conversation.
18. Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce was the face of the Boston Celtics in 2008, when they won the championship against the Los Angeles Lakers spearheaded by the great Kobe Bryant. No doubt, a big part of that success was Pierce’s sniping especially during big moments which earned him the Finals MVP.
Although the 10-time All-Star isn’t really regarded as a pure shooter, Pierce has shown he can shoot the lights out. In 2010, he ruled the NBA Three-Point Shooting Contest, becoming the first player from Boston to win it since Larry Bird. Furthermore after 19 seasons in the NBA, The Truth finished with 2,143 three point field goals made, as this was good enough to place him at number 9 of the Top 10 Three-Point field goals made of all time.
Thus, we placed him at number 17 for for our list of best shooters in NBA history.
17. Chauncey Billups
Like Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups also led his team to a championship and was crowned the Finals MVP. Billups was one of the players you can count on to shoot the three in clutch situations. He shot two unforgettable game-winning threes against the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, earning him the moniker Mr. Big Shot.
Later on, he would even bank a game-tying shot from half-court which would send the Pistons to overtime against the New Jersey Nets.
There’s no doubt that Billups’ shooting is one of his greatest assets. In their Finals victory against the favored Lakers, Billups shot a clip-high 50% field-goal percentage, supplanted by 47% shooting from downtown and 93% from the free-throw line. After 17 seasons, he averaged 15.2 points per game with a 42% field-goal percentage and shot 39% from beyond the arc. The 5-time All-Star also ended his career with a high clip of 89% from the free-throw line.
16. J.J. Redick
Being one of the best shooters out of Duke, J.J. Redick has successfully brought his shooting skills to the professional scene. Although he has never been an All-Star like the other players previously mentioned on this list, we have ranked Redick above them due to his shooting ability. He is, without a doubt, one of the best shooters in NBA history.
During the 2015-2016 season, Redick emerged to become one of the best shooters in the league. Playing for the Clippers in a game against the Houston Rockets, he scored 40 points, spiked by 9 three pointers in twelve attempts. He would finish that season as the league leader in three-point field goal percentage.
In April of 2019, Redick went on to shatter the Philadelphia 76ers’ record of most 3-pointers made in a season by a player. His achievements show that he is one of the most dangerous off-the-ball catch and shoot players in the league. Thus, we ranked him 16th on our list.
15. Danny Green
When it comes to shooting, it is hard to leave out Danny Green. He is simply one of the best 3-and-D players to have on your team. So far, he has won two rings, one with the San Antonio Spurs and just last year with the Toronto Raptors.
His breakthrough came at 2013, when against the Big 3 of the Miami Heat, Green shot lights out in that final series as he set the record at that time for most three-pointers in a final series with 27. Although they lost that series, Green would eventually come out a champion the year after.
Ever since that series, Green has been considered as one of the deadly shooters in the league. His ability to knock down open shots at a high clip (45% from beyond the arc), despite his limited role, puts him 15th on the list.
14. Kyle Korver
If we are talking about pure shooters, Kyle Korver deserves to be in the conversation. Korver has made a living out of three point shots, mostly in catch-and-shoot situations. Throughout his career, he has been automatic with a clip-high 43% from deep.
Every time he is on the court, you can count on Korver to knock down corner threes and to pop out of screens for a three-point shot. Any defender wouldn’t want to leave him open as he owns the all-time record for three-point field goal percentage in a single season with 53.6%. Furthermore, the 2017 All-Star also led the league in three-point field goal percentage three more times later on.
13. Drazen Petrovic
Drazen Petrovic was one of the best players that entered the league out of Europe and was one of the pillars that caused the influx of European players in the NBA. His shooting ability made him a valuable prospect out of Croatia. Although he struggled with the Portland Trailblazers in his first two seasons in the league, Petrovic made up for lost time with the New Jersey Nets as he eventually led his team in field-goal shooting and free-throw shooting.
Unfortunately, his rise had to be cut short due to a car accident. It would have been nice to see Petrovic reach his full potential. However despite his career being cut short, Petrovic did enough to become of the greatest shooters to play in the NBA. He finished his career by shooting 51% in overall field-goal percentage and 44% from downtown.
12. Chris Mullin
When talking about shooters, Chris Mullin is definitely one of the best. In order to make up for his speed, the left-handed marksman utilized his shooting skills. The 5-time All-Star displayed his scoring ability from 1987 to 1993 with the Golden State Warriors, as he posted at least 20 points per game during those seasons.
With a reliable jumper, he was even named to the 1992 USA Dream Team that included Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. After a memorable career with the Warriors and a short stint with the Pacers, Mullin’s career posted averages of 18.2 points a game, while shooting 51% from the field to go along with a lethal 38% from downtown.
11. Peja Stojaković
Another player out of Europe, Peja Stojakovic became one of the best shooters that has played in the league. His career posted averages of 17 points per game, while shooting 45% overall along with a mind-boggling 40% from deep and 89.5% from the free throw line, which was fifth all-time in the league’s record books.
Reinforced with an unorthodox jumper and a decent height at the wing position, his shooting allowed him to make a name for himself in the NBA, as he appeared in three All-Star games. Furthermore, he also won the NBA Three-Point Shooting Contest twice. In 2011, he was able to get his first ring by helping the Dallas Mavericks win their first ever NBA Championship. His ability to catch-and-shoot and knock down open shots make him a dangerous player to leave open.
10 Best Shooters In NBA History
A small reflection point, adding reminders across the board here. This ranking shooters list is not only based off stats and achievements, but the success a player had in his era of the NBA.
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of the data is going to be vastly different from one generation to another, leaving monster gaps in both counting and advanced stats.
10. Mark Price
In talking about the best shooters in NBA history, Mark Price is one of the best. At point guard, Mark Price is a nightmare for opposing teams especially when he starts pulling up in transition or gets open from screens. His numbers show how successful he is in doing so as he put up 15.2 points per game, which was supported by a 40% clip from deep and a lethal 90% accuracy from the free-throw line.
The 4-time All-Star’s ability to shoot off the dribble with accuracy allowed him to join the 50-40-90 club in his stay with the Cavaliers. Furthermore, his shooting prowess were displayed when he took home the NBA Three-Point Shooting Contest for two straight years in 1993 and 1994. His accolades, including 4 All NBA selections, only manifest how effective he is on the court when it comes to showcasing his ability to shoot.
9. Steve Nash
Being a pass-first point guard, Steve Nash didn’t really take a lot of shots. However when he does, he shoots it with accuracy, which was made him rank 9th in this list. The 8-time All-Star from Canada was a major headache for opposing teams, since he possessed top-tier passing skills that forced defenses to guard his teammates properly while also making sure not to leave him open.
In his career, Nash shot 49% overall, 43%from deep, and 90% from the free-throw line, which is good for second in NBA history. Because of his passing excellence and deadly shooting, Nash was able to earn the Most Valuable Player Award for two straight years in 2005 and 2006 to go alongside with 7 All NBA Team Selections.
8. Steve Kerr
Shooting 45% from deep is no easy feat and until now, not one player until today is able to break it. This is why Steve Kerr deserves to be in the Top 10 of greatest shooters in NBA history. The spitfire shooting guard has mastered the art of catch-and-shoot as he leads the NBA record books in terms of three-point field goal percentage.
Apart from his championships as a coach, Kerr has won five as a player, four with the Chicago Bulls and one with the San Antonio Spurs. This includes the game-winning three point shot that Kerr made to clinch their title in 1997. Because of his achievements, Kerr makes a case to be one of the NBA’s top shooters.
7. Dirk Nowitzki
Who says big men can’t shoot? Dirk Nowitzki, the prospect from Germany, showed everyone that a power forward can shoot with dangerous accuracy. Standing at 7 foot tall, Nowitzki paved the way for the existence of stretch-bigs. He could pull up from deep and become do some damage in the mid-range, especially when he does his automatic signature one-legged fade-away jumper. He was unstoppable to the point the league named him the Most Valuable Player in 2007.
However, his shooting capabilities were at peak when he took over the Finals series against a heavily-favored Miami Heat, who were spearheaded by no other than the All-Star cast of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Despite the unfavorable odds,
Nowitzki took it upon himself to showcase his shooting as he helped the Dallas Mavericks clinch their first ever title in 2011, with Nowitzki declared as the Finals MVP. During the playoffs of that year, Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points per game, shooting 49% overall to go alongside with 46% from downtown and 94% from the charity stripe.
His abilities certainly makes him one of the best shooters in NBA history.
6. Kevin Durant
Speaking of big guys who can shoot, Durant is definitely part of the conversation. I believe there is no one in the league who can match with Durant’s ability to create his own shot and to catch-and-shoot at the same time. Reinforced with height, Durant makes it even harder for his defenders to cover him. He can simply take over anytime he gets hot and when you’re the opposing team, you just have to pray that he starts missing his shots.
In terms of scoring, Durant has no problem with torching any defender. He has so far posted career averages of 27 points per game, shooting 49% overall to go along with 38% from beyond the arc and 88% from the free-throw line. The 10-time All-Star has shown his ability to score is unmatched, with him winning the NBA Scoring Title four times. He was also crowned with the league MVP for two straight years. More importantly, his lethal shooting helped the Golden State Warriors win two championships at the expense of the Cleveland Cavaliers which also allowed him to be named Finals MVP during those championship runs.
5. Reggie Miller
There was a time when Reggie Miller was the greatest shooter of all time. He made a case for it when he had the most three-point conversions of all time with 2,560 until 2011. Furthermore, his clutch moments or “Miller Time”, including his popular feat of scoring 8 points in 9 seconds, are hard to forget.
Given that the 6ft. 7 swingman was arguably the most feared shooter in his era, Miller deserves to be mentioned in the Top 5 Greatest Shooters in NBA History. His career posted averages of 18.2 points per game and shot the ball beyond the arc at 40%. Furthermore, he also led the league in Free-Throw Shooting percentage in five seasons. Miller’s shooting prowess also allowed him to join the prestigious 50-40-90 club. Because of this, his achievements are good enough to rank him in the top 5 of this list.
4. Larry Bird
If there is a guy that can shoot anywhere with ease, it is Larry Bird. He is indeed one of the greatest shooters the NBA has ever seen. His career posted averages of 24.3 points per game while shooting 50% overall, along with 38% from beyond the arc and 89% from the charity stripe.
He was so good that his achievements speak for itself, as he has three NBA Championships, two Final MVPs, and two Season MVPs under his belt. In fact, he even played a game, where he only scored with his non-shooting hand. Furthermore, he dominated the NBA Three-Point Shooting Contest for three straight years. It would be interesting to see Larry Bird put up some shots during today’s Three-Point era.
3. Ray Allen
If there was another player that made the case for the best shooter in NBA history, it would be Ray Allen. A great catch-and-shoot player, Allen was able to post career averages of 18.9 points per game, while shooting 45% overall and 40% from deep.
There’s no doubt he is one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen. He was crowned NBA Three-Point Contest Champion in 2001. Also, he was responsible for dethroning Reggie Miller’s place in the NBA All-time 3-Point Field Goals Made, as he is the current record-holder with 2,973. Allen also shined during playoff moments. He shot 8 three pointers in the heated Finals duel between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics which was a record back then. More importantly, Allen also shot the game-tying corner triple that would help the Miami Heat emerge victorious against the San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals in 2013. His heroics eventually gave him his second ring in the NBA. With this, Allen takes the 3rd spot in this list.
2. Klay Thompson
Another player that can shoot the lights out with no hesitation is Klay Thompson. Mastering the art of the catch-and-shoot, Thompson actually managed to score a career-high 60 points in one game in 29 minutes, spiked by 8 triples while using only 11 dribbles. In his previous career-high, he scored 52 points, where he also had a record-breaking night of making 14 triples back in 2018. The Warriors swingman only solidified his place as one of the best shooters in the league.
His shooting has earned him a spot in the All-Star Game five times, as he also helped the Golden State Warriors win three championships. With a good amount of years ahead of him, Klay still has a chance to break more shooting records. However as of now, he places 2nd in this list of best shooters in NBA history.
If there is a player that influenced the league in terms of three-point shooting, Stephen Curry has to be on your mind. Arguably, he is the best shooter we have ever seen. Pull-up threes, off-the-ball catch-and-shoot, buzzer-beaters, and half-court heaves are all what makes Curry the greatest shooter of all time. His shooting ability is unmatched when it comes to how he gets his shots and the accuracy of the shots he takes.
He has broken records to become number one in this list. As of the moment, Curry is the record holder for most three point conversions in a single season with 402. The lethal marksman is also the record holder for most three-point field goals made in a NBA Finals game with 11. In his career, the 6-time All-Star has three NBA Championships and two League MVPs under his belt. With some years still ahead of him, I won’t be surprised if he overtakes Allen in the Most 3-Point Field Goals Made.
Due to this, we consider Stephen Curry as the No. 1 man on our list of best shooters in NBA history.