Let’s put one myth aside from the start: not all records are made to be broken.
Case in point? The NBA.
When I say “Wilt”, you say “100”, to which I reply “that’s not even his most absurd record.”
- Wilt Chamberlain once averaged 48.5 minutes per game … in a league with 48 minute games.
- Walt Bellamy once played 88 regular-season games … in an 82-game season.
- AC Green played once in 1,192 straight games … in a league that is still unaware of load management.
- Rasheed Wallace once promoted to T’d 41 times in a season … in a league where players are now suspended after receiving 16.
As Stephen Curry outscores Ray Allen with the most 3-pointers in NBA history without any signs of slowing down anytime soon, it’s fair to wonder if his final tally will forever be etched in the record books. We’re going to analyze him by taking stock of where he is, projecting his career into the future, and then figuring out exactly what it would take to catch him.
CURRY MAKES HISTORY: The creation of the best 3-point shooter in NBA history.
Projecting Stephen Curry’s career 3s
There is no perfect science for projecting the future, and I don’t have a sophisticated algorithm that projects health, the evolution of the entire league, or future rule changes. All we can do is move forward with the information available at this time and hold ourselves to somewhat reasonable expectations.
That means not venturing too high or too low. When I say “best-case scenario,” that’s not the same as Curry setting a new record every year and playing until he’s 44. Could it happen? Look at Tom Brady. But we are toning down expectations to stay within reason, if not overly optimistic.
Similarly, the “worst case scenario” gets pretty dark, so we’re going to put aside any serious injuries or personal incidents that could derail a career. It could happen? Look at Tiger Woods. But again, we are charting a way forward within reason and without any relative apocalyptic pessimism.
Here are three plausible scenarios to consider.
Scenario 1: the absolute ceiling at best
At his current pace, Curry will finish this season with 3,242 3s.
This is also the fourth season that the two-time MVP has averaged at least five 3s per game. No other player in NBA history has done it even once.
So let’s start there. Imagine that for the next five seasons after this, he continues to hit 5.0 a game. Since you’ve only played 80 games twice in 13 years, let’s allow you to miss five games each year during that period.
That’s exactly 400 a year, which brings us to 5,242 at the end of the 2026-27 season, when he would be 38 years old.
While the best shooter in NBA history should age well, even Father Time will eventually register at the scorer’s table. Could I play until 43? Vince Carter did. Even if Curry is still there in 2032, he is much more likely to camp on corners for 25 minutes a night than to dance around defenders with the ball on a rope. We’re going to cut it down to 3.0 triples a night with 65-game seasons, which adds up to another 975.
5,242 + 975 = 6,217.
Math. Isn’t it fun?
Scenario 2: The realistic floor in the worst case
Again, we are completely eliminating injuries or race-ending events. However, it’s wise to note that Curry isn’t exactly an AC Green-level ironman, either. Even though he overcame some brittle ankles early in his career, it’s fair to wonder how Curry will hold up given his history and lightweight build.
With that said, it’s almost unfathomable to expect Curry to suddenly decline from a superstar level. All things being equal, let’s give him another two seasons beyond this one averaging 4.2 makes per game (the same amount he hit in 2017-18) and playing 65 games. That brings us to 3,788 during its 15th season.
Curry has four more years on his current contract after this one, which would take him to 17 seasons, one less than Ray Allen and Reggie Miller. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that during the last two years of his contract, during which the Warriors will pay him a staggering $ 55.7 million and $ 59.6 million, Curry drops to 3.0 per game and misses 30 games each season. .
If you consider it a career after his 17th season under this scenario, Curry would still finish with 4,100.
Scenario 3: the best plausible guess
Naturally, the best guess is somewhere in the middle.
Let’s play the end of Curry’s career in three stages beyond 2021-22. Once again, we will assume that Curry maintains his current pace for the remainder of this season and will use that as our initial benchmark.
- All-star: Four more seasons. 4.5 brands per game. 72 games.
- Good start: Two more seasons. 3.2 brands per set. 60 games.
- Dirk and D-Wade Torch Pin: Two more seasons. 1.7 brands per game. 50 games.
This trajectory allows Curry’s career arc to naturally relax while respecting the likelihood that his game will age gracefully. It’s not hard to imagine Curry taking on a role similar to that of Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas or Dwyane Wade in Miami, two legends who stayed behind to usher in the next era for the franchises they defined over two decades.
MORE: Ranking of the 11 Greatest 3s Shooters of All Time
Under this scenario, Curry surpasses 5,000 career 3s, an unfathomable number and more than 2,000 more than Allen’s previous mark.
Who could challenge Stephen Curry?
When Miller retired, Allen was the obvious successor.
When Allen retired, Curry was designated the next man on the rise.
Who will challenge the potential Mr. 5,000 every time he decides to hang it up for good? There is no obvious answer.
Just take a look at the active leaders. No one on that list is touching Curry, who continues to leave everyone in his dust.
|Player||Total||Get older||2021-22 by game|
|1. Stephen Curry||2,972||32||5.4|
|2. James Harden||2,509||32||2.5|
|3. Damian Lillard||2,109||31||2.8|
|4. LeBron James||2,023||36||2.8|
|5. Kyle Lowry||1,880||35||2.1|
|6. Paul George||1,825||31||2.7|
|7. Klay Thompson||1,798||31||–|
|8. Wesley Matthews||1,731||35||0.5|
|9. Kevin Durant||1,701||33||1.8|
|10. Eric Gordon||1,673||32||23|
Any potential challenger is just getting started, isn’t in the NBA yet, or hasn’t been born yet. Here’s a very quick rundown of the top challengers:
Luka doncic He is the fastest to reach 500 3-pointers made both in terms of age and games. At just 22 years old, he could be around 30 points per game for the next 15 years. That said … he’s still averaging 3.0 per game over four seasons and he’s actually earning less now than he was in his second season. An amazing scorer, Doncic is simply not a high enough volume shooter.
Bring young takes and does a lot of them. No player in NBA history, including Curry, made more 3s in 230 career games. Although given the fact that Robert Covington hit more 3s than Curry at that same benchmark, he doesn’t credit that fact has any real meaning.
Donovan MitchellNot Young, he might be the closest competition to Curry in terms of pull-up ability from the center. This is the second year in a row that he has accumulated more than three per game and has increased his 3-point rate in each of his first five seasons. He entered the league at the same age as Curry and his career 2.7 3s per game are exactly the same as Curry for five years. How much more can you increase it?
Devin bookerLike Doncic, he could lead the NBA in scoring for years to come, but his throwing game relies more on mid-range jump shots than bombing from deep.
MORE: Kareem shares thoughts on LeBron’s quest for the all-time scoring record
Truth be told, the most likely answer is no one.
5,000 is a huge, BIG number.
To catch Curry, it will take someone to win at least four a game for more than 15 consecutive seasons. Every other player in NBA history other than Stephen Curry has combined to do it a total of five times. Four times, the new king of triples has hit five per game, a feat no other player has accomplished even once.
MORE: All Steph Curry 3s Records
The knee-jerk reaction is that eventually someone will come. That among the millions of kids shooting in driveways, parks and gyms right now, at least one will take advantage of this new era started by Curry himself.
But while it’s easy to assume that players and teams will just continue to let it fly more and more often, the year-over-year increase in 3-point attempts is is already starting to decline, indicating that perhaps we are near a tipping point where the math will no longer just say “shoot more triples.”
The reality is that Curry is playing a game that is completely different from all the others. The result?
The NBA’s next unshakable record.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.