5 NBA Players Who Could Break Stephen Curry’s 3-Point Record
On December 14, Stephen Curry became the all-time leader in made three-pointers. Curry surpassed Ray Allen’s 2,973 career three-pointers.
Curry’s three-point shooting has changed the NBA. It has caused the league to revolve more around the long ball.
Right now, Curry is just shy of 3,000 three-pointers. There’s no reason to believe he’ll slow down anytime soon. To speculate, let’s say Curry finishes his career with around 4,500. That gives us a baseline for active players to hit.
Let’s check out Curry’s biggest challengers.
Aside from Kevin Durant, James Harden is likely the best scorer of the 2010s. Harden had an insane scoring stretch from 2017-2020. Harden averaged 30.4, 36.1, and 34.3 points in those three seasons, respectively.
When you score at that high of a clip, it must have a lot to do with the three-ball. Check out his three-point numbers.
|Three-Pointers Made Per Game||Three-Pointers Attempted Per Game|
Unsurprisingly, Harden led the league in both categories in all three seasons. However, we’ve seen his pace drop off since joining the Brooklyn Nets.
His three-pointers attempted per game stand at 7.3. That’s far below his 9.0 in nine seasons with the Houston Rockets. Part of that has to do with Harden becoming more of a facilitator.
In his time with the Nets, he is averaging 10.4 assists. That’s way up from his 7.7 average with the Rockets. But he also isn’t in a position to shoulder the workload. He and Durant are why the Nets are the favorite to win the NBA Finals.
Let’s say Harden plays in 71 games this season. That means he would end the season with 2,619 career three-pointers. He would pass Reggie Miller for third all-time, but he still has a ways to go to catch Ray Allen.
James Harden just nailed his 200th stepback three-pointer, more than any other TEAM in the NBA ?? pic.twitter.com/3GeY3P6CfQ— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) August 1, 2020
Harden would need 1,881 to catch Curry’s projected total of 4,500. He is 32 years old, so let’s say he plays seven more seasons. He would have to make 269 three-pointers a season to break the record.
We’ll say he plays 70 games a year until he retires. Harden would have to average 3.8 three-pointers per game. That’s a number he has only hit twice in his career.
There’s an excellent chance Harden surpasses Allen for second all-time, but it would take a lot for him to overtake Curry.
It didn’t take long for Luka Doncic to become one of the best players in the NBA. Doncic is a consistent triple-double threat, but he is a strong three-point shooter.
Speaking of triple-doubles, there’s a chance he breaks Russell Westbrook’s record.
For his career, Doncic is averaging 2.7 three-pointers made on 8.1 three-point attempts. Where Doncic has an advantage over Stephen Curry is his age.
Curry came into this league at 21 years old. Doncic came in at 19 and didn’t turn 21 until halfway through his third season. Last season, Doncic became the fastest player in NBA history to reach 500 career three-pointers.
In the beginning of his career, Curry wasn’t a big three-point shooter. Let’s compare his first four seasons against Doncic.
|Stephen Curry||Luka Doncic|
|Three-Pointers Attempted Per Game||2.4||2.7|
|Three-Pointers Made Per Game||5.5||8.1|
Curry’s fourth year is when he began to take more three-pointers. That was his first season averaging over 3.0 three-pointers. If you take out the 2019-20 season where he played five games, Curry hasn’t gone below that number.
Doncic hasn’t shot better than 35 percent in a season. Compare that to Curry, who has shot above 40 percent in almost every year of his career.
If you look at his current numbers, Doncic will finish the season with 721 three-pointers. Considering he turns 23 in February, it’s safe to say Doncic has 15 years left in his career. For the sake of argument, let’s say he makes it 16 years.
Every season, he would need 236 three-pointers to match Curry’s projected total. If he plays 70 games a season, he will have to average 3.4 made three-pointers. It’s not out of the realm, but he’ll need to up his average.
Coming into the NBA, many people saw Trae Young as the next Stephen Curry. Young attempted 10.3 three-pointers per game in his lone season at Oklahoma, knocking down 3.7 per game.
Young came into the NBA with Luka Doncic, so this is also his fourth season. Unlike Doncic, Young’s three-point numbers have been all over the place. Check out his numbers in each of his first two seasons.
|Three-Pointers Made Per Game||Three-Pointers Attempted Per Game|
The numbers have stabilized in his last two seasons. Overall, he is averaging 2.5 made three-pointers on 7.1 attempts. That’s what makes him one of the best young players.
Young has been near Doncic’s pace, but he is slightly behind. However, we’ve seen him shoot above 35 percent twice. He should end the 2021-22 season with around 200 three-pointers. That will give him 697 for his career.
Now Young is a volume shooter. I expect him to shoot around eight to nine three-pointers in his prime. For the sake of this projection, let’s say he makes 3.3 three-pointers per game for the rest of his career.
To hit 4,500 career three-pointers, Young would need to play around 1,150 games. If we’re talking about an entire 82-game season, that’s 14 years. However, I like to build in some missed games, so I’ve been basing it off a 70-game season.
With that projection, he would need over 16 seasons to break the projected record. Again, we’re basing this on Young making 3.3 three-pointers per game for the remainder of his career. He might hit more or less at points of his career.
That volume gives him the inside track on Curry.
Typically, when we think about players that can break career records, it’s superstars that play a long career. So how does Buddy Hield find his way into the discussion?
Hield has never made the all-star game and has averaged over 20 points once in his six-year career. However, we’ve seen him becoming a consistent three-point shooter.
He didn’t do much in the beginning of his career, averaging 1.7 made three-pointers in his first two seasons. He has steadily increased that number, averaging 3.4+ three-pointers made in each of his last four seasons.
This season, Hield should clear 270 three-pointers for the fourth straight season. That should give him 1,425 for his career.
If Hield’s pace drops to 250 three-pointers a year, he needs to play for 12 more seasons.
The problem with him is he didn’t enter the NBA until he was 24 years old. That’s a considerable disadvantage compared to Curry, Trae Young, and Luka Doncic.
Theoretically, Hield has ten seasons left. He needs nearly 3,100 three-pointers to surpass Curry. Let’s break down his chances if he plays ten seasons.
|Three-Pointers Made Per Game|
He would need to play every game for the next ten years to break the record with 3.8 three-pointers made per game. For reference, Hield and Curry are the only players averaging above that mark this season.
Hield will have to play 11 or 12 more seasons to come close to Curry’s projected total. It’ll be tough for the Sacramento Kings sharpshooter.
Coming into the NBA, I didn’t have Anthony Edwards pegged as a three-point shooter. He only made 29.4 percent of his attempts in his lone season at Georgia.
Like Luka Doncic and Trae Young, Edwards has youth on his side. He came into the league at 19 years old and immediately became a knockdown shooter. His 171 three-pointers were the fourth-most all-time for an NBA rookie.
This season, Edwards has improved his three-point shooting across the board. Let’s compare his numbers.
|Three-Pointers Made Per Game||2.4||3.1|
|Three-Pointers Attempted Per Game||7.2||8.6|
His improved accuracy will go a long way towards chasing Stephen Curry’s record. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Edwards has established himself as a rising star.
If Edwards keeps up this pace, he’ll finish the season with around 233 three-pointers. That would give him just over 400 for his career. Damian Lillard is the only player in NBA history to make over 400 three-pointers in his first two seasons.
Anthony Edwards (38 PTS) just hit his 10th three-pointer of the night ?— NBABet (@nbabet) December 16, 2021
Over 21 PTS ✅
Over 2.5 3PM ✅ pic.twitter.com/VGPAjg6myP
Like Curry, Edwards will need to increase his pace in the middle of his career.
At the end of his 10th season, Curry had 2,483 made three-pointers. If Edwards has 400 at the end of this season, he will need 2,083 over the next eight seasons. That would require him to knock down 260 three-pointers per game. It’s achievable, but he needs to increase his average to 3.5-4.0.
In order to reach Curry’s projected total of 4,500, Edwards would need 2,017 more three-pointers. Given his young start, we’ll say he plays eight more seasons. He would need to average around 3.4 three-pointers.
Right now, that doesn’t look like a daunting task, but his pace will slow down towards the end of his career. There’s no doubt he is off to a big start.
Likelihood of Breaking Stephen Curry’s 3-Point Record
It seems like a few players are within reach of Stephen Curry’s three-point record. However, those players are going off Curry’s start to his career. His peak is what sets him apart.
Curry has four seasons with over 5.0 made three-pointers per game. James Harden is the only other player in NBA history to average over 4.2.
I think this is a record that will stand for a while. Today’s NBA revolves around three-point shooting, so someone will likely come around and challenge Curry, but it’ll be a while.
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