Kevin Durant said it himself: Stephen Curry is the best shooter ever. Now, I’m not agreeing with Durant and saying Stephen Curry is actually the best shooter to ever wear an NBA jersey, but he could be in a couple years. He is still 2068, and counting, three-point field goals away from tying Ray Allen’s all-time NBA three-point record, but only time will tell if Curry can surpass Allen and become the greatest shooter to ever play in an NBA game.
One part of Curry’s shooting that separates him from Allen and even Reggie Miller is his ability to create his own shot wherever and whenever. Curry’s role on the Warriors is not to stand on the three-point arc and wait for the ball to come to him, or take a baseline screen every play to get freed up on the corner for a shot; Curry is required to run the point, set up his teammates, run the fast break, and hit threes when the team needs them. He is able to handle the ball up the court, perform a crossover and maybe a spin move to get open, and then bury a three in the defender’s face. Throughout Allen’s career, and on both the Boston and Miami championship teams, he has never been asked to do more then take a few screens, find a way to get open without the ball, and then catch a pass and bury a three. That’s his job, and he does it well, but Curry’s ability to create his own shot without a lead pass or a few screens set for him is a unique skill, and makes his job to get open a little harder. It may convince people that Curry is the better shot creator and overall shooter.
The most amazing thing about Curry’s accomplishments is that he’s still young and has been able to handle all the responsibilities on his team while still maturing as a player. He is only 26, and through his first 254 games in the league he had 214 more three-pointers than Allen had at that point in his career. At only 25 he broke Allen’s single season three-point record with 272 threes of his own, and did so with 45 percent shooting from behind the arc. He followed that up this season with 261 three pointers, as well as finishing sixth in the league with 8.5 assists per game. Curry takes on multiple responsibilities for his team, is able to be one of the premier three-point shooters in the league each season and leads his team in assists. Who knows what Curry would be capable of if his focus every game could be strictly to make strong cuts, take screens at the right times and shoot threes.
Although the 2014 draft is mainly featured by athletic and explosive drivers and finishers, the draft also has a fair share of shooters, and these players will not be overlooked. If any two players were to join the debate for the greatest shooter ever from this year’s draft, Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas would be the two. Although McDermott could virtually score anywhere at Creighton, he may find less success in the paint in the pros, meaning he will need to shoot more at the top of the key or beyond the three-point arc. However, he is certainly not a stranger to deep shooting. In his final three seasons at Creighton, the 6’8” forward shot 49 percent from the three-point line both his sophomore and junior seasons. He followed that up his senior season by making 96 three pointers while shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc. McDermott was the star for Creighton. Whenever they needed a bucket, he was able to give it to them, often creating his own shot and doing it himself. Many people question if his play style will transition into the NBA, but there is no question that a great shooter can fit in anywhere. The situation is similar for Stauskas. At 6’6” and 205 pounds, the shooting guard may be a bit outsized in the paint, at least at the beginning of his career. However, Stauskas can shoot. He connected on 80 three pointers his freshman season and 92 threes his sophomore campaign, while shooting 44 percent both years. Stauskas is a high energy, quick player, great at beating his defender off of screens, and shaking off a defender to get an open shot. Both McDermott and Stauskas have tall frames, an ability to shoot off screens and create their own shot. Even if their identities may change from versatile scorers to pure shooters in the pros, they have a chance for success in the league and could eventually join Curry and Allen in the discussion for the best shooter ever in a couple of years.
Ultimately, Ray Allen’s 2973 three pointers, and counting, solidify him as the greatest shooter to this date. He has also had success on his teams while setting that record, making appearances in four different NBA finals with two different teams, winning two of them, and playing for another one this week at the age of 38. But in today’s league the pace is fast. Many players need to be versatile scorers and be able to create their own shot in order to get on the stat line. There are players like Allen who still find success with their role being to mainly shoot threes, such as Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson and Marco Belinelli. However, players such as Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard have shown that it is important to make defenders question your next move; to add the threat to your game that you may pull up for a shot or take the ball to the hole at any moment. Curry is still young and has time to develop a better shot. The multiple roles he plays for the Warriors inhibits him from shooting all the threes he wants, but now playing under one of the most clutch, intelligent and successful three-point shooters to play in the league, Steve Kerr, hopefully Curry will be able to continue to develop his shot and win. It will take a lot more three pointers, celebration shimmies and deep playoff runs before Curry, or any other player, can truly be named the best shooter ever, but Curry could certainly do it based on the path he is on right now.