Reggie Miller – Best 3PT Shooter Ever?


NBA’s Best 18 PT/GM 3PT Shooters :

. Player FG FGA 3P 3PA PTS FG% 3P% TS% eFG% 3P/FGA
. Reggie Miller* 6.9 14.2 2 4.9 21.2 0.485 0.407 0.627 0.555 0.141
. Kevin Martin 6.6 15.2 2 5.2 22.3 0.432 0.38 0.593 0.496 0.132
. Peja Stojakovic 6.5 14.3 2.4 6 18.4 0.451 0.406 0.582 0.536 0.168
. Ray Allen 7.9 17.5 2.7 6.8 22.6 0.449 0.402 0.578 0.527 0.154
. Paul Pierce 7.4 16.7 1.7 4.6 22.9 0.444 0.367 0.568 0.494 0.102
. Glen Rice 7.7 16.6 1.9 4.6 21.2 0.461 0.41 0.568 0.518 0.114
. Danny Granger 7.2 16.6 2.3 5.8 21.6 0.433 0.388 0.564 0.501 0.139
. Allan Houston 6.9 15.5 1.6 4 18.9 0.446 0.404 0.548 0.498 0.103
. Jason Richardson 6.8 15.3 2.2 5.7 18.1 0.447 0.384 0.543 0.519 0.144
. Joe Johnson 7.9 17.6 1.8 4.9 20.9 0.449 0.363 0.539 0.5 0.102
. Tim Hardaway 7.4 16.8 1.9 5.3 20.1 0.439 0.355 0.536 0.496 0.113

Above is a list of all the players in the history of the NBA who have scored 18 points a game while shooting at least 35% from the three point line and for whom 10% of their field goal attempts result in made 3 pointers. I set the age range at 24-32, and the data is cumulative across all seasons.

The list only contains 11 players. I put the 18 point requirement in place to differentiate great shooting lead scorers from low minutes / low usage 3 point specialists like Kerr or Korver. There were quite a few players who scored 18 points and shot at least 35% from the 3 point line. For this particular age range, Michael Jordan actually made the list (as did Bird and Dirk). However, nobody would consider Jordan a great three point shooter. To disqualify great scorers who happened to shoot well from deep without shooting often from deep, I added the 3P/FGA criteria. Players had to make 0.1 three point shots for every shot attempted from the field – essentially 10% of all shots taken must result in made three point baskets.

I sorted the list by true shooting percentage to illustrate who was the most efficient of these high volume, high percentage three point shooters. The answer, not surprisingly, is Reggie Miller at a staggering 63% TS mark.


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8 Responses to “Reggie Miller – Best 3PT Shooter Ever?”

  1. jpalumbo Says:

    Please excuse the jankiness of the table. Between Google Docs and WordPress, the process of formatting a table was about 600% more difficult than it should have been.

  2. boyer Says:

    Miller has the best TS%, so best overall shooter based on TS%, but maybe he was just better at 2’s and FTs. He is 2nd in 3pt. %, but 5 of these guys are over 40%. I would say he’s probably the best 3 pt. shooter ever, but how does TS% show that? Just based on 3 pt. stats alone, I would rather take Allen’s 2.7/6.8 at .402 than Miller’s 2/4.9 at .407.

    Jordan could sometimes make 3’s when needed, but overall he was a bad 3 pt. shooter. Minus the 3 years when the 3 pt. line was shortened from 95-97, which saw a huge improvement in 3 pt. %’s across the board, which was when Jordan shot a lot more 3’s and had a very noticeable improvement from 3, his career 3 pt. % was only 28.8%. After the nba moved the 3 pt. line back in 98, Jordan shot less than half as many 3’s as he did in 97, which probably means he was more selective, meaning his % should be better, but this is not the case. His % fell from .374 to .238.

    Kobe narrowly made your list. His % was .346.

  3. jpalumbo Says:

    Good point re: TS% not being exclusively a three point shooting measure. I sorted using that stat because it gives a good indication of most efficient overall scorer, and the other criteria had already established that this was a pool of the best three point shooters. Reggie does lead in fg%, three point percent, and effective field goal percent as well, so it’s hard to pick against him from any range.

    MJ entered the league without great range. Throughout the ’80s he rarely ever shot threes and did so poorly. However, he got significantly better prior to the line being moved. In 1990 he shot .376 from three. and for the ’90s prior to the line moving in he shot 34% which is Kobe’s career three point shooting percentage.

    If you look at Jordan’s 3 point shooting season-by-season, you see that every time he shot at least 2 three pointers per game, he shot over 34% from three. That’s not to say he wasn’t much better in ’96 & ’97 with the line moved in; he was, and that’s clearly because of the rule change (Bryant also seems to have shoot better when he took more, though his threshold was 4 per game – until he turned 30. He hasn’t shot well from deep the last few years probably because of his knee issues).

    Jordan’s playoff 3 point percentage from ’91-’93 was 38.7%, higher than it was during ’96 or ’97. That’s over a span of 58 pressure packed games in three title seasons before the line moved out. He was adequate at making them when they mattered, but the shot was never a truly important part of his game as it is for the players in this article.

    • boyer Says:

      Just by the using the stats you used, yes, Miller leads in all %. However, Allen is only .005 in 3 pt. %, but shot many more 3’s, or take Peja at 2.4/6 in 3’s at .406. These 2 players are getting more pts./game and benefitting their teams more from 3’s since they shoot more of them, though they are just slightly lower in 3 pt. %. It’s volume and efficiency, you need both. I think what you’ve shared with us is that Miller is the best shooter according to these stats, but he’s not the best 3 pt. shooter. He could be 1/2 for 50%, but that’s not shooting much. I think Miller was more of a spot-up shooter overall than Allen or some of these other guys.

      Also, Kobe has roughly 20% of his FGs made aas 3’s for his career and about 15% of his total shots taken are 3’s. He shoots a lot of 3’s.

      Yes, Jordan had a few years that stood out from 3: 1990 and 1993. However, he was awful before 1990, and not very good in 91/92. Usually, fewer shots means you’re more selective, so you should shoot higher, but jordan seems to be the opposite of that. Yes, at times he could be very effective, but overall, 3’s were a weakness for him, unless the line was shortened.

      As a rule, 3 pt. % for big-time scorers is going to be lower than your standard spot-up shooter because that scorer usually has the ball when the shot clock is down or in clutch situations or when his team is down big with a few minutes left and the only chance to win is to jack up quick 3’s. This is what Kobe often has to do. He shoots more 3’s in these types of situations, and his % takes a big hit, because these are low % shots, but better to go down trying than not, regardless of how much blasting he gets afterwards for shooting too much.

      • jpalumbo Says:

        I actually think it’s a myth that players shoot better when they shoot less often, at least for great 1st option scorers. Kobe shot better with more attempts. So did Michael. So did Bird. Only role players consistently get the advantage of getting easier shots when they shoot less because it means they are having to create less. Great players always have to create.

        For Jordan I’d say it was less about selectivity when he shot less than 2 three pointers per game and more about necessity. Chicago never ran plays to get 3 point shots for MJ – he was the one drawing doubles so that Paxson and BJ could shoot open 3s. Most of Mike’s 3s were late clock possessions or efforts to cut a lead.

        Kobe did take and make a lot of 3s, but the above group requires that 10% of all shots attempted (made and missed) be made three pointers. The point of the exercise was to find players who scored a lot and relied on the three to do it. Kobe used the three, but he didn’t need it. He could dominate a game with no made threes. These guys could not.

      • boyer Says:

        There’s always exceptions, but it’s not a myth. Kobe is a bad example to use, because he’s always taken a lot of 3’s. The years that Kobe took the most 3’s were the middle of his prime, and sandwiched in between his major knee injuries/surgeries for the most part. It’s partially injuries, partially age, and partially the extra workload he has to carry on his team as his team has been slowly getting worse these past couple of years, which has shown his decline from 3. Also, last year was a lockout year, so that messed up a lot of stuff, especially worse for older/injured players, and offense was substantially down across the board.

        Bird seems very logical. Somehow he had a great rookie year from 3, but this turn out to be anomaly. You can see he definitely worked on 3’s, which is why he got better, much like Kobe. Kobe truly did develop his 3 game before the 03 season primarily, and that is shown ever since. Just think about it. If you take less shots, then that means you’re more selective. Every player is different. But, if you’re more selective, then you should shoot better, which we saw from lebron last year, even in a lockout year. Lebron also has the luxury of being much more wide open from distance than 3. Lebron’s defenders rarely guard him that tightly on the perimeter compared to Kobe. This is partially because of his driving ability but also partially because he’s still not a great outside shooter, though he has worked on it enough to become adequate.

        You don’t really run plays for your star players to get 3’s unless in crunch time. Jordan’s teams just were stacked, and he’s always had many great 3 pt. shooters around him, so he didn’t have to shoot as many 3’s as someone like Kobe did. So maybe this is partially why Jordan didn’t work on his game from distance as much as Kobe did. Jordan’s big hands certainly helped him in some areas of the game, but generally players with large hands are bad shooters, at least from distance, so this is probably another reason why jordan wasn’t that great from 3. Rondo and Shaq have enormous hands, and are terrible shooters. I think Dirk has relatively large hands, too, always exceptions. Lebron’s hands are probably pretty big, too.

        I understand that the 11 guys you found were 3 pt. shooters more than star players necessarily, though all of them are AS players and some HOFers and some future HOFers. Kobe easily had at least 10% of shots as 3’s. He missed the cut because he was at .346, just short of your required 35%. Kobe is 7th in NBA history in 3 pt. FGA, and 17th in NBA history in 3 pt. FGM. Nobody would consider him a 3 pt. specialist, which would be correct, but the 3 is a huge part of his game. You’re correct that he doesn’t have to rely on the 3 to be effective, but it is still a strength of his.

      • jpalumbo Says:

        You’re still not quite understanding the criteria as far as the % of threes per shot attempt. 10% of all Field goal attempts (not made field goals, but total shots taken) must be MADE three pointers. For this age range, Kobe made 1.6 three pointers per game and shot 21.7 field goal attempts per game. That’s 7%. FYI Jordan’s for the same span was making 0.7 threes and taking 23.4 FGAs which is 3%, which shows just how much more of a weapon that shot was for Kobe than for Jordan. Miller’s 3P/FGA is 14%, twice Kobe’s, which indicates that where Kobe could use the 3 effectively, Miller was dependent on it.

        I agree with what you’re saying on Bird, and that goes to my point about great scorers actually shooting better with increased reps from deep. Larry clearly practiced the shot more when he moved to the perimeter after McHale started getting bigger minutes. Bird is considered one of the greatest ever shooters in the NCAA. They didn’t have the 3 point line when he was in college, but his range was highly regarded, so it makes sense that he always had the talent to shoot from long range but only practiced the 3 and unleashed it when he had to move outside. Coincidentally that is when the three point shootout was added to all-star weekend, and he won the first three.

        For LeBron, I’d say you’re 100% correct. He shot better from 3 last year because fewer of them were contested pull up threes and more were created by his star teammates. Honestly, people credit his post game for his improved play last year, but to me it was just improved shot selection.

        Hand size might be a factor. I never really considered that. Larry had huge hands. I believe Dirk’s got pretty big hands too, but other than those two I bet most of the great shooters do tend to have smaller hands.

  4. jpalumbo Says:

    And Kobe could have made the list on percentage, but I don’t think he would have passed the 10% of all field goal attempts are made three pointers criteria. He offense was too diverse to be grouped with these clowns.

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