Hollinger: Best shooters ever

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
1:57
PM ET
Getty ImagesSteve Nash, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird. Who's the best shooter of all-time?
ESPN.com's John Hollinger tackles the near impossible task of ranking the greatest shooters in NBA history (post 3-point era). It's interesting to note that three Celtics occupy spots No. 7-10 in his final results. First, Hollinger's explanation on how this all works:

But which one is the best of the best? Aye, there's the rub. We've never had a clear metric for ranking the game's best shooters … well, at least until today's ill-advised endeavor. That's right -- we're going to try ranking the best shooters in the game's history.

First, a caveat: By "history," we're limiting ourselves to the 3-point era. There were plenty of great shooters who played prior to that point, but we have no way to verify their cases statistically. In particular, it appears Calvin Murphy and Rick Barry -- two players from the 1970s who were renowned for their shooting range and rank among the top six free throw shooters of all time -- are slighted by today's methodology. Bill Sharman, Mike Newlin and Fred Brown also get my apologies.

OK, now for the method. My first step is to require players pass through a couple of fairly low "gates:" shooting 85 percent from the line with at least a 45 percent mark on 3s, or shooting 87.5 percent from the line with at least 42.5 percent made on 3s, or shooting 90 percent from the stripe with at least 40 percent made on 3s.

The point at this stage isn't to determine the best shooter of all time but to eliminate all the players we know darn well aren't the best shooter of all time. This does an efficient job, narrowing our list to 44 players.

From there, I set about creating a formula to rank the best shooters. I thought I'd have to dream up something very complex to adjust for all the variables involved, but it turned out a simple formula worked far better than any of my more exotic concoctions. I simply added a player's 2-point, 3-point and free throw percentages. We'll call this "Combined Shooting Rating," or CSR for short.


Here's a look at the final three spots on his top 10 list. You'll have to hop HERE Insider to see the full list, but we'll note that Steve Nash tops the rankings at 1.849 CSR (with Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Mark Price, and Jeff Hornacek rounding out the top five spots):

Click HERE Insider to read Hollinger's full story.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
18.7 1.6 0.9 33.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 7.9
AssistsJ. Nelson 7.0
StealsJ. Nelson 2.5
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8