Two years ago, Stephen Curry broke the NBA record for career made 3-pointers, and his tally has only been growing since. It feels like he could play well into his 40s should he choose. That’s at least five more years, counting this coming season. If he does that, he’ll almost certainly clear 4,000 made 3s for his career.
That’s a big number. The assumption is his record will never be broken, or at least not for a very long time and almost certainly not by a current player. But not so fast. There is in fact one current player who could feasibly pass Curry if he stays on his current pace, and it’s probably not a name that’s popping into your head right now.
It’s not James Harden, who will likely move into second all-time this season. It’s not Luka Doncic, who will likely pass 3K made 3s for his career by getting to 4K would require a major percentage jump from what he has shown thus far. It’s not Damian Lillard or Paul George, both of whom could very well end up in the top five all-time. It’s not Curry’s teammate, Klay Thompson, who is too far along in his career at 34 years old and has the added obstacle of having missed two full seasons of action.
The guy to watch is Buddy Hield.
Over the last five seasons, Hield has finished with the second-highest total for made 3s four times, and he finished fourth the other season. Since 2017-18, nobody, not even Curry, has made more 3-pointers than Hield’s 1,557.
Over the last five seasons, Hield has averaged 276 made 3s; if he does that again this season, he’ll jump from 29th on the all-time list to 17th. If he adds a couple more, totaling 278 this season, he will jump Dirk Nowitzki for 16th. If he makes 284, he’ll jump Jason Kidd for 15th.
It’s well within striking distance. Hield made 288 3s last season, second only to Thompson’s 301. Hield is only entering his eighth season, and the guy does not miss games. Hield has played at least 70 games in each of the last six seasons; four times he’s played at least 80. Over the last two seasons, he’s missed a total of three games.
Let’s say Curry and Hield both play until they’re 40. That’s five more seasons for Curry, and 10 more for Hield, who, to this point in the respective careers, has actually averaged more 3s made per season than Curry (243 to 242). If Hield, who currently sits at 1,705 made 3s, were to make his his average of 276 3s every season for the next 10 years, he would land at just under 4,500 for his career.
As for Curry, let’s assume he makes 300 3s per season for the next five seasons, which is just about his average over his last six non-injury seasons. That would put him at 4,890 for his career. Yes, that’s still a higher number than Hield, but not by much, and that’s assuming he doesn’t suffer a long-term injury over these next five years. Hell, maybe Hield plays a few years longer than Curry or has a couple huge seasons over 300 made 3s, which is entirely feasible.
I wouldn’t favor Hield to break the career 3-point record by the time he retires, but I wouldn’t count it out by any stretch. Hield is flat-out one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history, even if he’s never talked about in that kind of light. He’s going to be around for a long time, even as his prime fades, because he can make every kind of 3-point shot in the book.
Last season, Hield hit 45.8% of his spot-up jumpers (91st percentile, per Synergy), 42% of his pull-up 3s, 41.5% of his catch-and-shoots, 61% of his step-back 3s, and 42.5% of his overall 3s — including 41.3% from above the break, 51.1% from the right corner and 45.7% from the left corner.
Dude is an assassin, and it will be a long time before he’s done firing. Again, Curry’s record might very well stand for a long time. Maybe forever. But should someone eventually pass him, Hield just might be the guy to do it.