With a catch-and-shoot corner 3 in third quarter Saturday night in Salt Lake City, Stephen Curry passed Hall of Famer Reggie Miller for second place on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers made list.
Miller made 2,560 3-pointers over 1,389 regular season games during his 18-year NBA career; Curry passed him in his 715th career game, coming early in his 12th NBA season.
“My favorite player growing up was Reggie Miller.”
— NBA (@NBA) January 24, 2021
“That’s pretty dope,” Curry said after the game (the Jazz beat the Warriors 127-108). “We got our head beat tonight, but I was trying to still enjoy it. After I made the third one, I knew that was a big one, and then to make that fourth one in the third quarter was pretty special. Something I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.”
With Miller in his rearview, the only player that stands between Curry and the title of 3-point king is another legendary shooter — Ray Allen, who holds the top spot with 2,973 career 3s. With a cushion of over 400 3-pointers made, Allen’s title should remain safe for 2021, but it’s only a matter of time before Curry claims the record for himself.
"You are an inspiration to so many little ones like mine."
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 24, 2021
At Curry’s current 3-point pace (4.1 3PM per game), he would need just over 100 games to catch Allen. With only 57 games remaining in this shortened 72-game season, Curry would likely not challenge Allen’s record until the second half of the 2021-22 season.
What separates Curry from Miller and Allen is the pace at which he has climbed the all-time leaderboard. While Miller and Allen utilized the 3-point shot as part of their game, Curry was part of a 3-point revolution thanks to his shooting ability and a rising emphasis on the 3-point shot. To put it simply — he changed the game.
Over the past six seasons, Curry has averaged at least 9.8 3-point attempts per game each year and has three seasons averaging at least 11 3s per game. By comparison, Miller’s career-high in 3-point attempts for a season was 6.6 in 1996-97 (3rd in NBA), while Allen’s was 8.4 in 2005-06 (1st in NBA by 1.6 3PA).
But Curry’s rise is not only attributed to a higher volume of 3-point attempts. The reason Curry is nearly universally regarded as the greatest shooter of all time is that he matches his high volume with historic accuracy. Curry is a career 43.3% shooter from distance, compared to 39.5% for Miller and 40.0% for Allen.
Curry’s 43.3% career 3-point percentage ranks seventh all-time and leads all players ranked in the top 200 in 3-pointers made. Curry has a strong connection with the top two players on the all-time 3-point percentage list: No. 1 is his head coach Steve Kerr (45.4%) and No. 2 is his younger brother Seth (44.9%), who is shooting a league-best 59.6% this season from 3 for the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s his combination of high volume and incredible accuracy that are the key reasons why Curry needed only 715 games to surpass the career total that Miller accumulated over 1,389 games. And it’s also the reason why Curry will be the first player to eclipse 3,000 career 3-pointers made and will set the standard that all other shooters will have to chase.
Which Players Will Eventually Challenge Curry?
Assuming Curry does catch and pass Allen to establish a new record for career 3-pointers, there are two lingering questions that will remain: 1. How high will he set the mark? 2. Which current players will have a shot at catching him in the future?
Let’s go back to the all-time leaderboard for 3-pointers made, but rather than track totals we’ll look at per game averages instead. The 14 players with the highest 3-pointers made per game are all active players before we get to Allen at No. 15. Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 on that list and see which players may have a shot at catching Curry.
With the lead that Curry currently holds and showing no signs of slowing down, it is tough to see fellow veteran players catching him. Harden is currently fifth all time and trails Curry by nearly 200 3-pointers made. After making 3s at a ridiculous pace during his final two seasons in Houston (4.8 per game in 2018-19, 4.4 per game in 2019-20), Harden is now adjusting to a new role in Brooklyn and has averaged 3.2 3PM so far this season.
If we remove the veterans from the list (Thompson, Lillard, Harden and George), then we can focus on the younger players that were influenced by Curry’s game as they watched him on their journey to the NBA. These players have not only been influenced by Curry, they are spending their entire careers in an NBA that has embraced the 3-point shot like never before.
Most 3-pointers, first 100 games of a player's career:
1. Duncan Robinson, 326
2. Luka Doncic, 250
Other notables (remember, the game has changed A LOT):
11. Klay Thompson, 204
12. Stephen Curry, 200
18. Mike Miller, 190
59. Ray Allen, 145
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 19, 2021
Earlier this week, Donovan Mitchell passed Buddy Hield’s record for fewest games needed to reach 600 career 3-pointers – hitting the milestone in 240 games compared to Hield’s 244. Mitchell is not known as a 3-point specialist, but because the 3-point shot is such a big part of everybody’s game now, his pace is faster than the players that came before him — similar to how Curry has passed Miller and is set to pass Allen.
Two players to keep an eye on are the two youngest players on that top 10 list — Atlanta’s Trae Young (22) and Dallas’ Luka Doncic (21). Both players are in their third season in the league and can drain 3-pointers at will. Their combination of 3-point volume and youth give them the best chance to challenge Curry.
4 More Stats to Know on Curry’s 3-Point Shooting
1. Double-Digit 3-Point Shooting Games
Curry has 15 of the 56 games in NBA history when a player has made at least 10 3-pointers in a game. The next ranked player is his teammate Klay Thompson with five, followed by the trio of Damian Lillard, James Harden and JR Smith with three each and Zach LaVine with two. No other player has more than one game with at least 10 3-pointers made.
Thompson holds the record for most 3-pointers made in a single game (14) with Curry and LaVine right behind him with 13 3s. Curry was the first player to reach 13 3-pointers as he set a new record on Nov. 7, 2016 when he shot 13-for-17 from beyond the arc in a win over the Pelicans. Thompson would top the record two years later and LaVine would tie Curry in 2019.
2. Playoff 3-Pointers Made
Keep in mind that all of the numbers discussed so far are for regular season games only, and do not count Curry’s record 470 3-pointers made in the NBA Playoffs. Curry racked up his 470 3s over 112 career playoff games (4.2 3PM per game); he is followed by LeBron James, who has 414 3s in 260 career playoff games (1.6 per game).
As for the legend he just passed, Reggie Miller ranks sixth in playoff 3s with 320 in 144 games (2.2 per game); and the legend he’s still chasing in regular season 3s, Ray Allen, ranks third in playoff 3s with 385 in 171 games (2.3 per game).
3. Most 3-Pointers Made in a Season
There have been four seasons in NBA history when a player has made at least 300 3-pointers – Curry accounts for three of the four, with James Harden being the only other member of the club. In 2015-16, Curry not only became the first-and-only unanimous selection for the Kia Most Valuable Player award, he also set the record for 3-pointers made in a season as he shot 402-for-886 (45.4%) from beyond the arc over 79 games.
Harden ranks second with 378 3s in 2018-19; in the same season Curry posted the third-most 3s in a season with 354; and in 2016-17 Curry made 324. Not only does Curry own three of the top four seasons in total 3-pointers made, he also holds six of the top 20 spots on the list. Harden holds four of the top 20, while Buddy Hield and Klay Thompson are the only other players with more than one spot in the top 20.
4. Most Consecutive Games With a 3-Pointer
Curry holds the record with 157 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer made, a streak that spanned three seasons from Nov. 13, 2014 to Nov. 3, 2016. Kyle Korver is the only other player to reach 100 straight games with a 3-pointer at 127 games.
Curry does not have the longest active streak in the league, that belongs to Sacramento’s Buddy Hield at 82 straight games, followed by Curry and Brooklyn’s Joe Harris each with 77 consecutive games. Toronto’s Fred VanVleet and Brooklyn’s James Harden are the only other players with an active streak of at least 40 games.
Curry’s Milestone 3-Pointers on Climb to No. 2
Curry’s journey to the No. 2 spot in career 3-pointers made began in 2009 after he entered the league as the No. 7 overall pick out of Davidson College. Here is a look back at the major milestones he achieved as he climbed the ranks.
1 – Oct. 30, 2009: After missing his only 3-point attempt in his NBA debut, Curry shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc in his second career game, a 123-101 loss to Phoenix.
100 – Feb. 27, 2010: Curry’s 100th 3-pointer came in his 58th career game as he shot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 27 points in a 95-88 win over Detroit.
500 – Jan. 26, 2013: Curry reached 500 career 3-pointers in his 221st career game with No. 500 coming on a night when he scored 26 points on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point land in a 109-102 loss to Milwaukee.
1,000 – Jan. 7, 2015: Curry became the fastest player to ever reach 1,000 3-pointers made as he reached the century mark in just his 369th career game. He reached the milestone during a 117-102 win over Indiana when he shot 4-for-8 from deep and finished with 21 points.
1,500 – March 11, 2016: The theme of Curry being the fastest to reach a 3-point milestone continued as he hit the 1,500 mark, this time shattering the previous record held by Ray Allen. Curry needed only 477 games to reach 1,500 3-pointers made, while Allen needed 661 games.
Enters Top 10 – March 5, 2017: Curry entered the top 10 on the all-time 3-pointers made list at Madison Square Garden in New York – the same arena where he set his career-best scoring mark of 54 points four years prior (he topped that mark with a 62-point game earlier this season). Curry scored 31 points and shot 5-for-13 on 3s in a 112-105 win, ending the night with 1,833 career 3-pointers, passing Chauncey Billups (1,830) to crack the top 10.
2,000 – Dec. 4, 2017: Curry became the eighth player in NBA history to reach 2,000 career 3-pointers and did so faster than any other player, needing only 597 games to hit the milestone. Curry scored 31 points and shot 5-for-11 on 3s in Golden State’s 125-115 win, but the achievement was marred by a sprained ankle late in the game that would cost Curry nearly four weeks of action.
Enters Top 5 – Oct. 24, 2018: Curry entered the top five on the all-time 3-point list in style as he scored 51 points and made 11 3s during Golden State’s 144-122 win over Washington. With his third 3-pointer of the night, Curry (2,162) passed Jamal Crawford (2,153) for fifth place in career 3s made.
2,500 – Dec 27, 2020: In the third game of the 2020-21 season, Curry became the third player in NBA history to reach the 2,500 career 3-pointers made milestone, joining Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. Curry scored 36 points and shot 5-for-15 from deep to help the Warriors earn their first win of the season.