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These 5 Sharpshooters Would Enjoy Today’s NBA

Stephen Curry Standing on NBA Court

The game of basketball has changed a lot over the past two decades, and more frequent 3-point shooting is a big part of this transformation.

When the 3-point line was added to the court for the first time in the 1979-80 season, only 3.1% of shots came from downtown. Ten years ago, 22.2% of shots came from beyond the arc, while that number climbed to 35.9% in 2019.

Back in the day, there were a lot of players capable of making those long-distance. We want to show you five great sharpshooters who would enjoy today’s style of basketball gameplay, but we had to omit some famous names like Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Mitch Richmond, Peja Stojakovic, etc.

Bird was an all-around superstar. Mitch Richmond was a tremendous scorer and arguably one of the best shooting guards of the ‘90s. Ray Allen retired in 2014 and was a big part of the NBA’s transformation.

But we had to narrow it down further, so we choose five players who were far ahead of their time but still played during the 3-point line era. They were lethal shooters and brilliant offensive minds who would know exactly what to do in today’s NBA.

Steve Smith

In his 14-year NBA career, Steve Smith had seen a lot. He was a rookie when Michael Jordan’s Bulls searched for their second championship. Smith played for six different teams, winning his only title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. Smith took 35.8% of his shots from deep during the regular season, but he averaged 39.4% from downtown in the playoffs.

Drafted as the fifth pick overall by the Miami Heat in 1991, Smitty’s stats may not seem so impressive to some basketball fans, averaging only 14.3 points, 3.2 boards, and 3.1 assists throughout his career. Still, he will be remembered as one of the best shooters from the late ‘90s.

The Atlanta Hawks acquired Smith in 1994. During his first three seasons with the team, Smith was attempting an average of 5.3 shots from deep. However, he was sinking only 33.3% of those triples, so the Hawks decided to split ways with Smith, who went on to join the Trail Blazers in 1999.

In his first season out of two in Oregon, Smitty was making 39.8% of his 3-pointers. By that time, he was already a classic spot-up shooter who was trying not to be a defensive vulnerability. But Smith was still a lethal shooter, and Gregg Popovich needed one in San Antonio.

Smitty tallied 47.2% from beyond the arc during his first year with the Spurs. Next season, he won the championship but played only 7.3 minutes per contest in nine appearances during the 2003 playoffs. Steve has never won the 3-point contest, though he hit nine triples against Gary Payton’s Supersonics back in 1997.

Glen Rice

Glen Rice and Steve Smith were teammates in Miami for a while. G Money was a bigger star than Smitty and arguably a better shooter than his teammate. He shot .456/.400/.846 through his 15-year career, averaging 18.3 points in 35.0 minutes on the floor per game.

“When I was playing, if we shot six 3-pointers as an individual per game, we thought we were shooting too many threes,” Rice said. “The opportunity to get out there and maybe shoot 15 3-pointers a game? I would really hurt myself if I wasn’t averaging 30 points per game. It would really be a great time.”

Rice was a three-time All-Star, but in today’s game, I think he would have more value. In his greatest days, G Money was shooting 5.6 triples per contest, and connecting on 47.0% of them.

Glenn joined the LA Lakers in 1998 and won the championship alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. That year, Rice started all 23 games in the postseason, making 41.8% of his 3-pointers. G Money was a one-time 3-point contest champ from 1995, too.

Hersey Hawkins

I enjoyed watching Hersey Hawkins as a kid. He’s also one of my favorite 2K players, alongside Shawn Kemp, of course. Hersey Hawkins was a lethal shooter. He was making at least 40.0% of his triples in six of his 13 NBA seasons. In 74 playoff appearances, Hawk shot 39.6% from beyond the arc.

Hersey Hawkins was not a one-dimensional player, though. He loved to attack the rim and was pretty successful when doing it. Furthermore, he always played with great energy and had decent defensive skills.

Simply put, Hawk was a natural. He shot 87.0% from the free-throw line and 46.1% from the field which are excellent numbers for a 6’3” guard. Hersey knew how to penetrate and use his speed, but leaving him open for a shot was a complete disaster. He would knock it down every single time.

Dale Ellis

“I’m the best shooter of all time,’’ Dale Ellis said once.

I know that from the jump. I set the standard. I gave them something to shoot for. I was the first player in the history of the game to get 1,000 3-pointers. To be able to play on that level, you have to have that attitude about yourself. You can say it’s arrogant or cocky or whatever, but that’s OK. There’s no way you can compete without it. There’s no way you can excel without that confidence level.

Back in 2011, Ellis was right. The Splash Brothers were soon to come. But Dale was a splash father, as 40.7% of his shots during his last seven seasons came from downtown. Ellis retired in 2000, finishing his career with a 40.3 three-point percentage, enough for him to be the 28th-best ever.

Larry Bird won the first three 3-point contests in 1986, 1987, and 1988. He didn’t participate in 1989, so Dale Ellis took advantage of it, winning his only 3-point contest title, just to establish his legacy as one of the best shooters in NBA history.

Chris Mullin

I assume many young basketball fans would doubt Chris Mullin’s ability to fit in today’s NBA. But Mully was a member of the original Dream Team. He was a five-time All-Star and undoubtedly one of the best players of the Jordan era.

Though Chris Mullin struggled with alcoholism in his rookie and sophomore days with the Golden State Warriors, after checking into rehab prior to the 1989-90 season, he transformed into a monster that averaged at least 25 points per game for the next five years.

Chris shot “only” 38.4% from deep throughout his career, but he’s still one of the purest sharpshooters in the history of basketball. During his veteran days with the Indiana Pacers, Mullin brought devastation from downtown. Chris made 44.0% of his treys in the 1997-98 season, starting all 82 games for the Pacers.

Mullin’s greatest legacy is probably Run TMC, a high-scoring trio consisting of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin, who all played with the Warriors from 1989 to 1991. Mully joined forces with a couple of young lions to play a type of basketball that would fit perfectly with today’s NBA.