Last month, Stephen Curry officially passed Ray Allen for 1st place on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list. Several weeks later, Curry became the first player to eclipse the 3,000 3-point mark. Incredible, incredible numbers for a 33-year-old that still has many productive seasons ahead of him.
While Curry has cemented his name as the greatest 3-point shooter ever, he has certainly been aided by the NBA’s recent shift to volume 3-point shooting. Due to the sheer number of 3-pointers Curry takes, it’s been apparent for years that he would eventually pass Allen. The NBA’s 3-point shooting volume has taken off in the last 7 or 8 seasons, thanks in large part to examples set by Golden State’s Splash Brothers and Houston’s Moreyball.
As Seattle fans know well, the Sonics have a long history of excellent 3-point shooters. Some of the greatest long-distance shooters to ever play in the NBA sported the green and gold. Fred Brown, Dale Ellis, Dana Barros, Hersey Hawkins, Brent Barry, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis - the list goes on. Curry’s recent accomplishments beg the question: what kind of numbers could these sharpshooting Sonics put up if they were given the same volume-shooting opportunity?
Fred Brown, arguably the greatest long-distance shooter in Sonics history, barely even got a chance to play with the 3-point line, much less shoot threes with Curry’s volume. Even Ray Allen, who played much more recently, topped out at 8.4 3-point attempts per game (2006-07 season). Compare that to Curry, who has fired over 10 threes per game in 5 of his last 6 full seasons. This year, he’s taking an astronomical 13.4 threes per game. The most threes per game Downtown Freddie Brown ever took over a season? 1.1. Dale Ellis? Only averaged 3.5 attempts per game over his career. Undoubtedly, their career totals of all these Sonic legends would be higher if they played in today’s NBA.
As a die-hard Sonics (and basketball) fan, I followed Curry’s pursuit of Ray Allen’s record closely. Although Curry didn’t break the record at home, he chose the next best place to do it: Madison Square Garden. Having Ray Allen in courtside to see it happen made the moment all the more special. Several weeks later, I attended the game in San Francisco where Curry drilled his 3,000th career three. The Warriors’ crowd went wild, a timeout was called, and celebratory graphics flashed across the screen. As I sat there and watched, I couldn’t help but wonder: would this be Allen (or Brown or Ellis) if their career began when Curry’s did?