Basketball has always been a big man’s game, but once in a while, some small dude comes and dominates it. Back in the day, there were Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and others. Fast track to the past decade, and there was one guy who changed the NBA’s landscape through his shooting: Stephen Curry. This article aims to list the reasons why Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history by a wide margin.
But before doing so, let’s tackle the most basic question head-on.
Is Steph Curry the Greatest Shooter in NBA History?
Unless you ask John Salley this question, the answer that you’d get is a resounding YES. Older NBA players like Rick Barry take the more conservative route by mentioning that the three-point line was not introduced to the NBA until 1979.
“You can’t even do it because you can’t compare guys who played before the three-point line was introduced,” said Barry, a 12-time All-Star who led the Warriors to a championship in 1975.
But other than Barry, different NBA personalities known for their shooting have no problem conceding the all-time shooting title. Kiki Vandeweghe, a small forward who at one time led the league in three-point shooting percentage, saw Curry’s body of work in 2015 and was amazed.
“Comparing year to year, people at their peak, I’ve never seen anyone better,” Vandeweghe said. “The difficulty of some of the shots he makes is incredible. He makes shots I wouldn’t even think of taking, and I took a lot of shots. He has a certain body and court awareness. He always knows where the basket is. His fundamentals are as good as anyone I’ve seen. Dell’s form (Steph’s dad) is actually more textbook because his release point was higher—and no matter where he is, he can always get off a good shot.”
Steve Nash also had no problem crowning Curry as the best shooter ever. Nash was a shooting savant himself and has achieved the statistical holy grail of 50-40-90 four times in his career. He is one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history, right in the alley of Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, and Klay Thompson. If there ever was anyone who could chime in on this conversation and hold weight, it’s the two-time MVP.
“He’s as good as anyone I can think of on every level—pure shooting, the array of shots, percentage, getting hot, plays to the end—he checks all the boxes,” Nash said of Curry.
Nash also gave context to shooting efficiency, noting that it’s not always everything. He approached the game differently than Curry, who is more of a scorer than him, who’s a facilitator at heart.
“He’s probably going to shoot a lower percentage than me his whole career because he’s going to take more shots and he should,” Nash said of Curry. “It’s just a difference in mentality. I would shoot a higher percentage than Steph because I was much more conservative. I would try to shoot as high a percentage as possible to save shots for my teammates and then shoot more in the fourth quarter.”
The most striking similarity between Nash and Curry is their exceptional ability to pull up and shoot off the dribble, especially from long range. In this department, Nash still considers Curry to be a notch above.
“Steph takes it to another level,” Nash said. “I was able to do it going left and right, and we can both do it at speed, but I was always trying to get to the three-point line. He can do it from deeper and, frankly, I never took a step back. He has no trouble taking a step back and making it. You add that to all the other shots. It could be a clincher in this game of deciding who’s the best.”
Why is Steph Curry the Greatest Shooter?
Is Steph Curry the best shooter in NBA history? Steve Nash’s comment on Curry (mentioned above) is a beautiful explanation of why he’s the greatest shooter ever. Ray Allen, who once held the record for most threes in a season, also pointed out how Curry differs from all the other shooters, including him.
“Myself, Reggie Miller, Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson—we play a different game,” Allen observes. We’re shooters. We come off screens, pin downs. Steph can do that, but he’s creating a different lane. Point guards haven’t been able to do what he’s been able to do because he’s mixing that 2 guard-ish in there with having the great handles of a point guard.”
As to Allen’s point, most shooters rely on screens and pin downs to get open. Curry can do that as well, as evidenced by the 10-minute video compilation below of him taking catch-and-shoot threes.
However, as Nash mentioned earlier, he takes everything to a whole other level. He can shoot pull-up threes (off-the-dribble), and it doesn’t matter where or when. He can make it from 40 feet and has the ultimate green light to attempt one even if the shot clock reads 20 seconds.
In short, Curry can be an off ball threat while also having the ability to create his own three-point shot. If that’s not the definition of “greatest shooter,” then what it is?
Is Steph Curry a Better Shooter Than Ray Allen?
Ray Allen had said some strange things before, like how Dell and not Steph is the best shooter he’s seen. Well, Dell should obviously have a massive influence on Steph, but comparing the son to his dad is downright disrespectful. Steph made 3,117 treys so far, and he’s not done yet, while Dell made 1,245 throughout his career. Steph Curry three-point percentage for his career is 43%, and Dell’s is 40%.
What about Allen? He is undoubtedly a generational shooter, but Steph broke his all-time record while playing in 511 fewer games! Curry also owns the record for most three-pointers made in a single season (402), most three-pointers made in the playoffs (470), and most three-pointers made in the NBA Finals (121).
How can anyone dispute that?
How Did Stephen Curry Get So Good at Shooting?
Despite having that NBA pedigree, Steph was an underdog his whole life. Stephen Curry’s height as a high school freshman was only 5-foot-6, while weighing 130 pounds soaking wet. That means he should be willing to grind and work harder than everyone else just for a coach to give him a shot.
How did Curry approach the game that he became the best ever at shooting the basketball?
“The quick release was more important early,” Curry says. “With my height, I had to use that to my advantage, get my shot off quick. In the NBA, open space continues to get decreased. Then as I got that down, being able to expand my range and create space with the ball, the dribble became equally important.”
Sounds simple enough? Not really. To be able to get his game at this level, Curry had spent thousands of hours honing his craft. Even in the offseason, Steph Curry is out there grinding, trying to stay fit and sharp. He says he is in the gym six days a week during the season, working on his game and conditioning. In the summer, he spends three hours a day keeping his game on point while staying ahead going into the next season.
When in the gym, Steph is not goofing around. He only practices shots he would take in a game, not just standing around in a spot and hoisting mindlessly. That said, Steph aims to make 500 shots during the offseason and approximately 250-300 makes on game days. It’s all about practice and repetition.
The Secret to Steph Curry’s Shooting Form
It’s different strokes for different folks. Stephen Curry’s shooting form is neither the perfect textbook form nor the most ideal. Nonetheless, it’s a work of art painted on a canvas of sweat and hard work. He does what works for him and no one can argue the results.
Steph Curry maintains proper alignment of his shooting shoulder, elbow, and hip. His shoulder is squarely behind his elbow and parallel to his hip. His forearm is slightly angled away from this line, allowing the ball to remain above his shooting eye.
Curry is a right-handed shooter; thus, he moves his feet slightly to the left to line his right side. His foot occasionally points right at the rim while dribbling. He rotates his hips while jumping and turning in the air to preserve that alignment.
Another observation to make on Curry’s form is his stance. Like most shooters, he maintains a wide stance to keep himself balanced while his knees point inward. He also does not keep the ball high, but instead dips the basketball below his waist to use the momentum to create a rhythm for his shot.
Defying another shooting rule is the fact that Curry is a palm shooter. Yes, he lays the ball on his entire hand, with the ball’s weight on his palm. As he snaps his wrist forward, he moves the ball from his palm to his finger pads and off his fingers.
His elbow is directly above his head, and his arm is fully straight on his follow-through. This motion allows the ball to move straight ahead. It begins above his eye and ends right above his eye on his follow-through.
At the end of the day, it’s not really about a shooting secret that is what makes Steph great. It’s about putting in the hours and working tirelessly until you achieve what works best for the type of player that you are.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Stephen Curry is the Greatest Shooter in NBA History?
Is Stephen Curry the best shooter in NBA history? Nostalgic oldheads may hesitate to give Steph Curry the crown already, but there is no doubt he is the best at what he does. Curry holds multiple shooting records, including the most threes of all time (3,117), most three-pointers made in a single season (402), most three-pointers made in the playoffs (470), and most three-pointers made in the NBA Finals (121). On top of that, Curry is the only shooter who can hurt you in many ways. Ray Allen and Reggie Miller did their damage coming off screens, and Steve Nash was an excellent pull-up shooter from mid-range and deep. However, Steph Curry can do both styles at an insanely high level, not to mention the range he’s shooting from!
To conclude, the statistics and the eye test leave no doubt. These allude to why Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history. For someone to tell you otherwise is a travesty.
If you’re interested in learning Steph Curry’s story, check out this basketball biography book.