Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history. Everyone who doesn’t get paid millions of dollars to puke out daily hot takes on TV has known this fact for years.
But Steph made it official on Wednesday by passing Ray Allen for the most three-pointers made in NBA history. Four months shy of his 34th birthday, Curry has drained 2,977 threes one-third of the way through his 13th season in the NBA. His whole career has been building to this moment. From the second he burst into our lives as a fresh-faced assassin leading Davidson to the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, we knew he was special.
With Curry leading basketball’s three-point revolution, it makes sense that he’s the patron saint of the long ball. But when there’s a coronation, there are always those ready to usurp the king. Curry changed the game. But that means the next generation, some who grew up idolizing Curry, is coming for the crown. Next in the line of succession are James Harden (2,509 made threes) and Damian Lillard (2,119 made threes).
Both Harden, 32, and Lillard, 31, are too close in age to Curry to make a run at the record. The successor will probably come from the next generation of players who were barely in elementary school when Curry became a household name. One man in that next group of NBA stars might not be the conventional heir apparent to Curry’s three-point kingdom, but Anthony Edwards has a case to be the one to break Steph’s record.
Edwards is not your typical three-point artist. The second-year budding superstar has a 33.9 career three-point percentage. Contrast that with Curry’s career mark of 43.1 percent, and you can safely throw Ant’s application as the three-point prince in the trash, right? Despite the accuracy disparity, Edwards has a legitimate claim to the throne. The biggest reason for that is the sheer volume of threes he fires off.
Through his first 100 NBA games, Edwards has hoisted 762 threes (7.6 per game) and made 258 (2.6 per game). He’s made more threes in his first 100 games than anyone in NBA history except Duncan Robinson. On his current trajectory, Edwards is on pace to take 709 threes this season (8.6 per game) and make 255 (3.1 per game) of them. Curry has only attempted more than 709 threes four times in his career and eclipsed 255 made threes in seven seasons.
If Edwards averages 255 made threes a season, he’ll hit 2,977 threes in about 10.5 seasons, near the end of the 2031-32 season. Ant will only be 30 going on 31, three full years younger than Curry is now.
Volume is the only reason Curry left the door open for youngsters like Edwards to have a chance. To revolutionize the game, Curry had to spend his first few seasons in an NBA that still didn’t quite get that three points are better than two. He didn’t eclipse the volume Edwards is seeing until his seventh season. At 20, Ant has a big head start on Curry, who didn’t truly become the three-point god until he was in his mid-20s. Early in his career, Curry’s ankle issues caused him to miss 56 games in the 2011-12 season, and a broken hand wiped out all but five games of his 2019-20 season. If Ant can stay healthy (perpetually knocking on wood), he can make up some ground on Curry in a hurry.
The obvious elephant in the room is that Curry is the greatest shooter of all time, and Edwards is just some dude who takes a lot of shots. Edwards will likely never come near Curry’s percentages, and Steph’s game is set up to keep launching three’s well into his 40s. Some people who actually like doing math have put Curry’s final three-point number somewhere around 4,500. For Edwards to reach a number like that, he would have to keep up his current pace for another 16.5 seasons without missing a game. He’d only be 36 after the 2037-38 season, which seems increasingly more realistic.
Edwards can look at someone like Harden as his three-point godfather with a career path that could get him in the record conversation. Harden is a career 36.3 percent three-point shooter and has never shot better than 39 percent in a single season, yet he’s about to pass Reggie Miller for third on the career three-point list. Harden mixed being a slightly above average shooter with a huge volume to chisel his face on the three-point Mount Rushmore. It’s not too crazy to think Edwards can keep improving his shot and settle somewhere between 36 and 38 percent for his career while increasing his volume.
The real game-changer for Edwards is that in an ever-evolving league. We have no idea how crazy the three-point volume will get during his career. In 2009-10, Curry’s rookie year, Aaron Brooks led the league with 525 three-point attempts (6.4 per game). Fast forward more than a decade, and 44 players average more attempts per game. Who is to say that by 2031 Edwards and others aren’t consistently attempting 15-20 threes per game and making 600 threes per season regularly? Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal would have heart attacks, but it’s not that farfetched with how the NBA is evolving.
We should absolutely take this time to bask in the greatness that is Steph Curry. He’s one of the best and most important players in NBA history. But when records are broken, it’s natural to think ahead to who is the next in line. There are plenty of others vying for the title, and when you come at the king, you best not miss.
Edwards will need to improve his percentages, keep up his volume, and probably hope Curry gets bored and retires to host Holey Moley full time before he’s 40 if Ant has any chance at the record. But it’s more realistic than you would think, and Edwards might just be the prince that was promised to break even the records nobody thought he could.