When it comes to getting it in from behind the 3-point line, the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is the NBA player to beat. In the 2015-2016 regular season, he scored 402 3-pointers. That’s the equivalent of hitting 103 home runs in a baseball season, which is impressive by any measure, but as this visualization from the New York Times‘s Upshot shows, Curry is not just a little better than his peers when it comes to 3-point attempts. No one else, past, or present, even comes close.
The chart tells you that at a glance. (Just look at the line tracing Curry’s 3-point performance in the ’15-’16 season compared with everyone else’s.) But if you want to dig deeper, you can unearth plenty of intriguing data points.
The chart contains 752 lines, one for each player who managed to end up in the NBA top 20 for his season. The visualization starts in 1980, which is the first year the NBA played a full season in which players were allowed to make 3-point field goals. In that year, Ricky Sobers managed to get into the top 20 for shooting just 21 3-pointers. Today, Stephen Curry could probably shoot 21 3-pointers in his sleep.
What’s truly impressive about Curry’s performance in the 2015-2016 season isn’t just that he soundly beat every NBA player ever. It’s that he’s gotten significantly better at taking 3-point shots over time. He scored 286 3-pointers in 2014-2015, and 261 in 2013-2014, and 272 in 2012-2013. Curry not only set the new record, he scored 30% more 3-point shots last season than his previous personal best, which was also a record.
That calls for a celebration.