Amid all the many arguments in basketball circles these days, there is one unquestioned truth. Stephen Curry is the king of the 3-point era. The Golden State Warriors' uberstar ranks third in longballs, fifth in success rate and eighth in attempts in NBA history. Does that make Curry the greatest shooter ever? After all, he also shoots better than 90 percent at the free-throw line, right?
Yet if best means most efficient, as many would contend, then not so fast there. The 3-ball is the highest-risk, highest-reward shot in the game. While Curry sinks more than his share of them, he also misses more often than anyone. If the primary goal of every shooter is to maximize opportunities, then we need a metric that compares points scored to point potential.
Well, it just so happens that we’ve got one. It’s called Shooter Efficiency Rating (SER), which measures all-around excellence and a lot that goes with it, i.e., accuracy, shot selection, self-awareness and ability to draw fouls. The formula: points scored / ((3FGA x 3) + (2FGA x 2) + FTA). If a player converted half of his shots in each of the three point values, for example, the result would be a .500 SER. (The league average was .476 in the 2018-19 season.)
We set some arbitrary guidelines to balance the field. A player had to attempt at least 15 percent of his field goals from beyond the arc with a minimum 37 percent success rate. That eliminated Larry Bird, LeBron James and Michael Jordan, to name a few. He also had to be a regular or thereabouts (24.0 minutes or more per game) for the brunt of his career. Sorry, Steve Kerr and Tim Legler, but we want some volume here.
With this criteria in mind, here are the top 25 most effective shooters.