College Basketball

Move, McCloud, Here Comes Steph



During the 1995-96 NBA season, while playing for the 26-56 Dallas Mavericks, swingman George McCloud (an ACC legend, I presume, who played at Florida State from 1985-89) attempted an NBA single-season record 678 three-pointers. Considering the relative dearth of volume three-ball shooting during this time period in the league’s history, this is an astonishing number. McCloud played in 79 games that season, and averaged 8.6 attempts from deep per game. Again, that’s a lot.

This record of course occurred during the middle of the NBA’s three-season attempt in the mid-90s of moving in the arc — a decision made to increase scoring from 1994-97. The league changed the court’s dimensions, moving the three-point line to 22 feet the entire way around the basket; as opposed to where it currently sits: 23 feet and nine inches above the break, 22 feet in the corners. Like such:


So for 20 years now, McCloud has been this unlikely answer to this one specific trivia question. (And it should be noted: McCloud never attempted more than 283 three-pointers in any other season during his decade-plus career in the league.)

However, McCloud’s days atop this list are surely numbered, because Steph Curry is wizard, who can shoot from literally any location on the court with a comical amount of confidence.

At this point, referring to him as a cheat code simply isn’t enough. This is more than some formula embedded in the game that continues to glitch with made 3, after made 3. This is something way beyond that.

As I’ve noted in this space before, Curry is shooting a what-would-seem-to-be-bonkers number of threes per game. Steph has led the Golden State Warriors to an impressive 11-0 start, and in those 11 contests, the former Davidson Wildcat has attempted 126 three-point field goals (11.5 attempts per game, 11.8 attempts per 36 minutes).

The last three regular seasons Steph has played an average 79 out of 82 games — and lead the league in three-point attempts each year, too. So lets say Curry keeps up this shooting pace, and plays 79 games. I know the math is loose, but if this does manifest itself out, Curry will shoot 909 three-pointers. Bruh…holy god.

Oh, and of course, he’ll probably make damn near half of them; Curry’s currently shooting 45.2 percent on 3s. This number is especially wild once you factor in that nearly 40 percent of those makes come sans an assist. This type of prolific volume shooting, combined with accuracy, and shot type (off the dribble, as opposed to a catch-and-shoot) has never been done before in the history of basketball…no matter what your Uncle Steve tells you about Pistol Pete.

What I’m trying to get at here: Steph Curry is shooting nearly 12 threes per game, but he should honestly be shooting MORE of them. Like, if he’s going to continue making nearly 50 percent of these shots — and I don’t know why this party should ever end, then he seriously can’t shoot enough of them. He should take more; it’s crazy. More. We want more.

Honestly, we could even expect to see Curry’s shooting clip rise. This seems hard to believe, but according to Basketball-Reference, Curry has shot just 38.1 percent on corner threes this season — outside of a dunk at the rim, the most efficient shot in basketball. While that percentage certainly isn’t something to mock, it pales in comparison to the 56.4 percent he shot on corner treys during his MVP campaign last season. If he returns to his normal hit rate from this spot, that overall percentage could climb, too.

Curry’s Warriors lead the league in 3pt attempts with 333 (omg make a wish), which should come as no surprise. But what’s crazy is to see just how close Steph is to launching as many threes as several teams.

The bottom three NBA teams in three-point attempts this season:

Minnesota: 151

Brooklyn: 162

San Antonio: 166

(It may surprise some to see the Spurs in this area, but they usually land right around the league median for three-point attempts. So this isn’t as wacky as it may seem, especially since they’ve only played nine games so far.)

But that’s not all; let’s take this a step further. Curry has connected on 57 threes so far this season. That’s more makes than two teams (Brooklyn–43, Minnesota–52), and as many as two other teams (San Antonio and Memphis–both with 57).

Curry’s also shooting an insane 70 percent in the restricted area, and his usual ho-hum 93.4 percent from the free throw line. As of right now, there’s no ideal way to defend this dude. Hedge hard while defending a pick-and-roll with Curry and Draymond Green — the bread and butter of Golden State’s offense — and Curry will blow by you and get to the rim or an easy layup or throw a pocket pass to Green, who can then operate with a de facto 4-on-3, which equals death for opposing defenses.

Plus, if you cramp his air space, trying to deny a clean missile launch from deep, you better make sure to not draw contact, too, because a trek to the charity stripe for Steph is worth nearly 1.9 points. Best of luck to you, helpless defender!

We here at SC8 would like to celebrate the legacy of George McCloud. You’ve done Pat Kennedy proud, but his longstanding record has an expiration date, and it’s set for sometime in the first quarter of 2016.