It's extremely impressive that the Golden State Warriors just broke the record for most wins in an NBA season, and we should talk about it. Any time anybody breaks a record previously held by Michael Jordan, it deserves to be talked about, and we should talk about it.
However, they only broke that total by one win. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry broke his own record for three pointers in a season by A HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN. He made 402 threes when nobody besides him had ever broken 270.
The leaderboard for most threes in a season is now a joke. It's Curry, then 100 threes later, Curry again and then Curry again.
Curry hit 126 more shots than anybody else has ever hit -- that anybody else being his own teammate, Klay Thompson, who hit 276 this year in Curry's shadow. That's a difference of 1.53 per game over the course of an 82-game season. You cannot do this by being hot once or twice. You can only do this by being incredible every single game.
I can't recall a major record in any sport being demolished so thoroughly as Curry demolished the NBA's three-point record this season. A lot of words have been written about Curry and these Warriors and just how amazing they've been, but I'd also like to take some time to show the preposterousness of the sheer number of threes Curry hit this year.
Steph Curry just hit more threes than most teams in NBA history
Steph Curry did not outshoot any NBA teams this season. The Milwaukee Bucks hit the fewest threes of any NBA team with just 440, almost 40 more than Curry. Jesus, Steph! Step up your game!
However, this is not true of most seasons. Over the past 10 years, Steph Curry would've outshot the worst team in the league almost every season:
And almost all these teams -- save the 2007 Sixers -- attempted more threes than Steph.
But even these totals reflect a massive shift in NBA philosophy towards the three-pointer. For almost the entirety of the NBA's history, even the best shooting teams failed to hit as many threes as Curry hit this year. Here's a look at the team that hit the most threes in the NBA every year from 1980, when the three-pointer was introduced, until 1994, when a team finally hit as many as Curry hit this year:
(Finding all the historically accurate logos was a pain, but worth it, I think.)
So, to summarize: Steph Curry just made more threes than any team for the first 15 years after the three-pointer was introduced.
A lot of people have pointed out that Curry made more threes than the first league leader in the category, the 1979-1980 San Diego Clippers, who made just 177. But even that 177 was a result of an early infatuation with the three that quickly disappeared. Nobody would hit that total for seven seasons. Nobody hit 300 until the 1988-89 Knicks, and nobody hit 400 until the 1993-94 Houston Rockets, who used Vernon Maxwell, Kenny Smith and a young Robert Horry to provide spacing for Hakeem Olajuwon en route to a championship.
This season, Curry made more three-pointers the average NBA team for the first 25 years that the three-point shot existed. Here's a look at how the league average has increased in comparison to Steph's 5.1 threes per game mark.
From here on out, even the worst teams will surpass five made threes per game and 400 made threes in a season.
Steph is the most accurate volume shooter of all time
The dots in this graph represent the person who led the NBA in three-pointers made each season since the NBA introduced the three-pointer. Except here, we can also see the percentage they shot on those threes.
A lot of people have implied that NBA legend X could've made 402 threes if only they were allowed to shoot 883 three-pointers like Curry did. But this shows that's not the case: Nobody has ever led the NBA in three-pointers while shooting as high a percentage as Curry shot this year. Second place is Curry. Third place is also Curry.
Steph Curry hit an NBA legend's career's worth of threes
When Larry Bird hit his 400th career three in the 1987-1988 season, he was stepping into uncharted waters: he was the first player ever to make 400 threes. And it took him eight years as the pioneer of the three-point shot, breaking new NBA boundaries, with each three, to set the bar that high.
Steph Curry just hit 400 threes in a season.
Obviously this graph is a bit unfair, since neither Michael Jordan nor Magic Johnson were known as three-point shooters. (In fact, Jordan's performance in the 1990 Three-Point Shootout remains the lowest-scoring of all time.) But they were NBA players who played the entirety of their careers in an era where it was legal to hit three-point field goals.
But still: Larry Bird's entire three-point shooting career was less than two seasons of Steph threes, MJ's was less than one-and-a-half and Magic didn't make as many threes in his entire 13-year career as Steph Curry just did in a single season.
Apologies for the photo choice.
Steph Curry vs. The Babe
The play that leads to the most points in basketball is a three-pointer. Steph Curry just demolished the record in that. The play that leads to the most points in baseball is a home run. About 100 years ago, a guy started demolishing the records in that, and he's pretty famous.
For the first, like, 20 or 30 years they played baseball, the record for most homers in a season slowly creeped up, from four to seven to nine to 14 to 19 to 20 to 25. (In 1884, a dude named Ned Williamson hit 27 homers because his manager decided balls hit over the 190-foot right field fence should be homers instead of ground-rule doubles. This change that only lasted for one year. but for the sake of argument, let's exclude him.) The record sat at 25 for 20 years.
Then, in 1919, Babe Ruth came along and broke the long-standing record with 29 home runs. Amazing!
Then, in 1920, Babe Ruth came along and hit 54 FREAKIN HOME RUNS. One year, he broke the all-time record by four. The next, he broke his own all-time record by TWENTY-FIVE, twice as much as the previous record.
Now let's look at the same progression, but for the NBA three-point record:
For, like, the first 20 or 30 years they allowed threes, the record slowly crept up. It kept creeping up until Dennis Scott hit a ridiculous 267 in 1996, 50 more than the previous record, set a year before. 10 years after that, Ray Allen hit seven threes in the season's final game to push him over the top with 269 threes, two more than Scott's record.
Then Curry nipped in over the top, hitting four threes in the final game of the 2012-2013 season to break Allen's record by three. It was the pinnacle of Curry's young career.
Then, last year, he comfortably broke his own record with 286, almost 20 more than the record Scott set two decades earlier.
Then, this year, Curry broke his own record with FOUR HUNDRED AND FREAKIN' TWO THREE-POINTERS.
First, Curry and Ruth tested the waters: after decades of a commonly understood ceiling, both broke records by a little teensy bit at first. Then, both absolutely smashed the records they themselves set, functionally changing the expectations everybody else in their sport had.
He didn't know it at the time, but Ruth was establishing a new upper boundary for what's possible in baseball. After 50 years where 20 seemed like a large amount of home runs, he took a foray into the 50s, then hit 60, and that's where the line has been drawn for almost a century. Nobody would hit 60 home runs for another 30 years, and when somebody did, it came with a famous asterisk: In 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st homer in the 162nd and final game of the season, making baseball purists point out Ruth only had 154 games. Later, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds would hit over 60, and baseball purists would invalidate those results by definite or probable use of steroids. For the past 100 years, nobody has hit more home runs than Babe Ruth did without making somebody uncomfortable.
With Curry, we don't yet know what's possible. Our wildest fantasies could've foreseen Curry hitting 300 threes this season, and he made those measly dreams look pathetic.
Is 450 next? Is 500 next? Is Curry simply the first in a future where 400 threes by a player in a season is normal, or is he a historically great champion whose name will be remembered like Babe Ruth's in 100 years?
We don't know, but I'm quite happy continuing to watch the Warriors to find out.
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Sharpshooting: Steph Curry knocks water out Draymond Green's hand
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