The NBA three-pointer was born in 1979. Dell Curry began his pro career seven years later, as the long bomb began to take off. In Dell's rookie year, no one in the league took more threes than Dale Ellis, who launched 240. The average NBA team took 388 all season, or a whopping 4.7 per game. Curry took 60 all season. It would take him a few seasons to find his stroke, and it would take the NBA a decade to lose its conscience from beyond the arc.
These days, shooters launch much more frequently. The league leader in attempts last season, Ryan Anderson, took 422 three-pointers ... in 61 games. The average team took more than 1,200 threes in a lockout-shortened season, averaging 18 per game. Even the shooting averse Hornets, last in the league in attempts, took almost 12 a night. And Dell's son Stephen Curry fit right in with the more trigger happy NBA, launching 4.7 attempts per game -- the same that the average team took in Dell's rookie season.
Stephen works in a completely different NBA, one more focused on spacing and schemes designed to get players open 23 feet from the basket. In the '80s and '90s, finding open players near the basket or getting the ball to players who could beat their mark -- in the post or facing up -- was the name of the game. Dell's own career showed how NBA offenses evolved. A rangy gunner at heart, Curry saw his three-point attempts rise with the league's trendlines, peaking in 1994-95 when the NBA debuted a shorter three-point line. (That shorter line survived three seasons. Like most players of the era, Curry's attempt frequency spiked during that window.) But even before the "juiced threeball" era, Curry had begun a pretty little streak of eight straight seasons in which he shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. Over the first half of that streak, as he reached his peak, his attempts grew and grew in number. He became one of the league's most notorious shooters. Even deep into his 30s he provided a shooting spark for teams; in 1998-99, he led the league in three-point shooting percentage at 47.6 percent while coming off the bench for Milwaukee.
His son didn't wait long before reminding fans what the name Curry meant in the NBA. As a rookie in 2009-10, Stephen gunned nearly five attempts per game ... and hit 43.7 percent of them. The younger Curry hit better than 40 percent of his bombs in each of his first three seasons, and is taking more attempts than ever this year. (He's at 35 percent, but there's a lot of season left.) Last year, Curry became only the second player ever to shoot more than four threes per game and hit more than 40 percent of them in each of his first three seasons in the league. (Ben Gordon was the first to do it. Only four other players, including Allan Houston and Kyle Korver, have ever done it twice in their first three seasons. Gordon actually accomplished it over his first five seasons.)
Shooters are at a premium in today's NBA, and Stephen inked a massive four-year extension that kicks in next fall. By the end of the 2013-14 season, the younger Curry will have made more in five seasons in the NBA than his father did in 16. (Like I said, it's a different NBA.) But he'll have made it in much the same way: from having supreme confidence and superb marksmanship from far away from the basket. It's the Curry way.