In the National Basketball Association, a shot taken from beyond the arc that half-circles more than twenty fee t from the rim is worth three points. This is the most points a single shot can earn, so being able to shoot the three is a very valuable skill; however, since it is at a longer distance than other shots, it has a higher difficult level that requires a finer accuracy than closer shots in the post.
Most players do not specialize in the three-pointer, choosing other beneficial skills instead. In fact, often simply by being bigger, some NBA personnel are forced to focus on their inside skills without being able to refine their jump-shot capabilities. Throughout the league’s history, though, certain players have emerged as long-distance shooters.
The player whose image graces the NBA logo outline, West played for championship Lakers teams before the three-point line was ever introduced by the ABA merger. However, he was renowned for his shooting accuracy, reflected by his remarkably high point totals and averages. One of his most famous plays is hitting a half-court shot in the playoffs to tie the game. Had the three-pointer existed in his era, it would have been an immediate victory rather than cause overtime.
An often underrated player who gained most of his prominence for his service to the Chicago Bulls in the 1980’s, Hodges was a role player who certainly specialized in the three-point shot. In addition to coming into games just for his shooting touch, he also set the long-standing record for highest total in a round for the All-Star weekend Three Point Shootout.
Larry Legend was one of the best pure shooters the game of basketball has ever seen, with his clutch shots helping to solidify the Boston Celtics’ second dynasty in the 1980’s rivalry against the Showtime show of the Los Angeles Lakers. While Bird was notable for his shooting no matter where he was, he was capable of draining the long ball as well, and often did so despite being heavily guarded in he final seconds of a game.
Kerr is notable for the simple fact that, in several seasons, he hit over 50% of the three-pointers he attempted! He set an astounding pace that remains as the gold standard for three-point accuracy. And it was no fluke, either; rather than a statistical aberration for hitting the few that he attempted, Kerr completed over 700 three-point shots in his career.
In the annals of NBA history, Dennis Scott is not a big name. But, for a brief period when the NBA experimented with a shorted three-point line, Scott suddenly exploded onto the scene as a premier shooter for the Orlando Magic. In a single season he set the record for both three-pointers made in a single season and the amount made in a single game.
Like Bird, Miller will be remembered as a pure shooter, and arguably the greatest three-point shooter of all time. Despite never winning a championship, Miller was a clutch performer supreme who was notorious for late-game theatrics for the Indiana Pacers and bringing on the threes in clusters. At the end of his career, Miller retired from the game with 2,560 total three-pointers today, a record that still stands far above every player in history but Ray Allen.
Those are the absolute cream of the crop, but as with any best-ever list, there is plenty of room for expansion, discussion, and disagreement. Suffice to say, the three-pointer continues to be a thrilling shot in basketball, and will have fond shooters for years to come.