Leading Off

It’s too early to call Stephen Curry best shooter of all time

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry gestures after Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Houston.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry gestures after Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Houston. AP

While most of the attention was focused Tuesday on Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s fall and rise in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against Houston, the ongoing story line of the NBA playoffs is Curry’s shooting.

In 14 playoff games, Curry has made 44.9 percent of this three-point shots and is averaging 29.4 points. And after he made 7 of 9 three-point attempts and scored 40 points in the Warriors’ 115-80 thumping of the Rockets in Game 3 on Saturday, the Internet was abuzz with folks calling him the greatest shooter of all time.

He’s third among NBA career leaders in regular-season three-point shooting percentage (44.1 percent) and he’s made some incredible shots in the playoffs, but he’s played only six seasons, so perhaps it’s premature to call him the best when there have been so many great shooters who have come before him.

Here’s our list of the five greatest shooters of the past 35 years, a group Curry figures to join in the near future (remember, we’re talking shooters, not scorers):

Larry Bird: The Celtics forward tops most lists of best shooters, mostly because he did it when the stakes were highest and in the biggest games. “Larry Legend” could make any shot, any time, from anywhere on the court.

Ray Allen: In 18 seasons, Allen made 2,973 three-point baskets, the most in NBA history. As a hired gun with one of the league’s quickest release, he made his mark with the SuperSonics, Celtics and Heat.

Reggie Miller: The Pacers guard is known almost as much for his antics with Knicks superfan Spike Lee as he is for his shooting. He made an art of running off defenders on screens and firing jump shots. And he had a swagger.

Chris Mullin: He certainly wasn’t the fastest or flashiest guy, but he had a deadly baseline jump shot during his 13 seasons for the Warriors and three for the Pacers.

Steve Kerr: The Warriors’ coach is probably the best off-the-bench shooter of all time. He leads the NBA in career three-point percentage (45.4 percent).

Tom Couzens: (916) 321-1097, @tomcouzens

Playbook

  • WHAT TO WATCH: NBA playoffs, Houston at Golden State, 6 p.m., ESPN. The Warriors, up 3-1 in the series, are 45-3 at home this season.
  • TWITTER CHATTER: “Had chance to ask Steph Curry if he'll go out of his way to avoid replays of scary fall. ‘I’ve seen it once,’ he said, ‘and once was enough’” – @ESPNSteinLine
  • ON THIS DATE: On May 27, 1998, in one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history, Pete Sampras was ousted from the French Open by 97th-ranked Ramon Delgado, 21, of Paraguay 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-4.
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