Greatest NBA playoff ‘pure shooters’ in the three-point era

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Larry Bird's photo at Conseco Fieldhouse, Indi...

Larry Bird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your team is down by one and has the ball with 10 seconds left. Who do you want to take the last shot?

Your team is up by two with five seconds remaining. Who do you want to get fouled and sink two free throws to ice the game?

Your team is down by three and needs a three-pointer to tie. Who do you want to shoot the three?

One final question: Who would you rate as the greatest “pure shooters” in the NBA playoffs during the three-point era?

I know, a lot of questions to answer. But here’s a little help. To try to answer the last question of the greatest “pure shooters” in the NBA playoffs in the three-point era, I established a few guidelines. First, a player had to have played in 40 or more playoff games in his career. Secondly, to qualify for the best “pure shooter” label, a player had to have a career playoff shooting percentage of .450 in field goals, .300 in three-point attempts, and a .850 free throw percentage.

Here are the players who qualified for the list (minimum of 40 shots attempted in each category to qualify)

Player, playoff games, FG pct/3-pt pct/FT pct

Larry Bird, 164, .472/.321/.890

Jeff Hornacek, 140, .470/.433/.886

Dirk Nowitzki, 128, .463/.380/.893

John Paxson, 119, .494/.369/.867

Steve Nash, 118, .473/.409/.899

Ray Allen, 113, .453/.415/.893

Joe Dumars, 112, .462/.358/.855

Ricky Pierce, 97, .466/.355/.866

Antonio Daniels, 80/.461/.353/.863

Hersey Hawkins, 74, .455/.396/.907

Chris Mullin, 71, .495/.409/.859

Kiki Vandeweghe, 68, .510/.345/.907

Mark Price, 47, .464/.337/.944

If we use these same criteria for this year’s playoffs, and drop the minimum attempts to 10, we have only two players who qualify as the best “pure shooters” in this year’s playoffs. They are:

Chris Paul, 5 games, .469/.389/.882

James Harden, 4 games, .500/.462/.871

What do you think?

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


2 responses

  1. He’s not on your list, and he may not qualify as a “pure shooter” but I’d take MJ at clutch time over anyone on your list but Bird. Just saying . . .

    1. Dave: I would agree with you that Jordan would be near the top of the list, although I never saw Jordan as a “pure shooter.” I guess I saw him more as a “pure scorer.” For the basis of this blog, Jordan would make the list based on a playoff FG pct over .450 (.487), a playoff 3-pt pct of .300 (.332); he did not, however, make the list because his FT pct was .828, below the .850 mark to qualify. It would be interesting to see how many more players would make the list if I moved the FT pct mark down to .800. Thanks for reading. Jerry

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