From the beginning of basketball, three-point shooters were an integral part of ballhandling and scoring. They became a crucial piece in the NBA’s offensive strategy as its popularity has grown over time.

The “who is the best 3-point shooter in nba history” is a question that has been asked many times before. The answer to this question is Stephen Curry.

Once Upon a Time, 3-Point Shooters Were the NBA's Version of Kickers

Stephen Curry’s historic feat was recently recognized by the NBA. When he surpassed Ray Allen’s record of 2,973 made 3-pointers in just over half as many games, the Golden State Warriors icon became the NBA’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers. The 3-point shot has become a standard in today’s game, with practically everyone taking one.

With an average of 35.5 long bombs per game, the NBA is on track to surpass the record for deep attempts for the 11th straight season.

The triple threat made its debut in the American Basketball League, which only lasted two seasons from 1961 to 1963. The long ball was resurrected in 1967 by the American Basketball Association, but the 3-pointer was lost when that league dissolved in 1976. The shot was first used by the NBA in 1979. However, it took many years for it to become a popular weapon.

Before the mid-1990s, the NBA took very few 3-point attempts.

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The NBA overlooked the 3-point line as a shooting destination in the early years of the arc, considering it a fad rather than a weapon.

In 1979–80, the inaugural season of the 3-ball, teams averaged 2.8 attempts per game. Attempts faded once the novelty wore off. It wasn’t until 1984–85 when teams averaged more than three shots each game. It wasn’t until 1994–95 that the line was reduced to a standard 22 feet that the average reached double digits.

For a decade after the NBA restored the 3-point arc to its former length in 1997, attempts did not match those of the short-line period.

For the first time, clubs averaged 20 attempts each game in 2012–13. Last season, the league average per club jumped from 20.0 in 2012–13 to a new high of 34.6. Along with the rise in attempts, the NBA matched a league record last season by shooting 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. That was the same as in 2008–09, when teams only attempted 18.1 triples a night.

Why wasn’t the NBA on board with the long ball from the start? There are various aspects to consider.

Players didn’t drill 3-point shots on a regular basis.

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When every basket was two points regardless of length, closer was better in the ancient days. Coaches urged their players to slam the ball into the hoop and shoot from close range.

When the 3-point line was introduced to the NBA, the league lacked the essential talents and coaching styles to make the most of it. Instead, it was a last-ditch effort. When a team is down late in a game, they will bring in a shooter off the bench to attempt 3-pointers. The defenses were prepared for what was to come. It worked on occasion. Most of the time, it didn’t.

The San Diego Clippers attempted 543 3-point shots in their debut season and made 32.6 percent of them. The Atlanta Hawks only scored one deep try each game on average. For the season, they were 13-of-75, a dismal 17.3 percent. So it’s probably a good thing they kept their mouths shut. In 1979–80, the league average from 3-point range was 28.0 percent.

Brian Taylor of the Clippers, an ABA veteran, set a single-season record of 90 3-pointers in 1979–80, which he held for four years. No one had ever scored more than 100 points until Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics did it in 1987–88.

In 2015-16, Curry established the current record of 402 points. Curry’s job would have been quite different a few decades ago.

3-point shooters in the NBA were a specialty.

Brian Taylor of the San Diego Clippers was the NBA's first 3-point shooting king.

Brian Taylor of the San Diego Clippers was the NBA's first 3-point shooting king. The San Diego Clippers’ Brian Taylor was the NBA’s inaugural 3-point shooting champion. | Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Because of their long-range shooting, a few NBA players in the early 1980s were able to keep their roster slots.

These players were more like the NBA’s version of placekickers in the National Football League than rotation players. Because of his shooting range, Joe Hassett moved about from the Indiana Pacers to the expansion Dallas Mavericks to the Warriors.

The teams with the most specialists tended to be the weaker ones. Poor teams were more likely to fall behind and have to play catch-up. Only three of the top ten 3-point shooters in 1979–80 were on playoff teams.

The absence of players entrusted to shoot from deep was mirrored in the 3-point percentage leaders. In 1979–80, just 15 players hit the required 25 3-pointers to earn the league lead. The next season, that number dropped to eight. There were four in 1982–83, with Mike Dunleavy leading the pack with 34.5 percent.

It wasn’t until 1984–85 that the NBA had 20 qualifiers. The benchmark has been 82 since 2013–14, an average of one every team game. Last season, 156 players were eligible for the league championship.

Other players, including Hassett and Dunleavy, survived as 3-point specialists for a few years. Similar players were Mike Bratz, Chris Ford, Freeman Williams, Kevin Grevey, and Kyle Macy.

Players who do not have a 3-point shooting are now regarded a liability. It’s being fired from behind the arc by everyone. Only a few professionals risked to shoot from the abyss in the early days of the 3-pointer. The shot took a generation to make its way into coaching game plans.

Basketball Reference and Stathead provided the statistics.

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RELATED: Stephen Curry’s Record-Setting Night Requires Some Reminders About Ray Allen’s Peak Performance

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The “best 3-point shooters in nba 2k21” is a topic that has been discussed for years. In the past, three-point shots were the NBA’s version of kickers.

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