One of the most deadly weapons in any NBA team’s arsenal is the three-point shot. Teams that use analytics understand the value of the three-pointer, which is why more teams than ever are shooting as many threes as they can during each game.
As more and more teams rely on the three-point shot, records surrounding the three-pointer are likely to fall. The record for most three-pointers in a game has fallen in the past year. What’s remarkable about that is not just who set the new record, but who held the record before him.
Who has the most three-pointers in an NBA game?
Klay Thompson makes up one half of the vaunted “Splash Brothers” along with Steph Curry for the Golden State Warriors. The two are well known for their outside shooting ability. So it should come as no surprise that one of them holds the record for three-pointers in an NBA game.
On October 29, 2019, Thompson set the record in a game against the Chicago Bulls:
“After a bit of a slump in which he shot 5-for-36 from 3-point range, Klay broke the record for most 3-pointers in a game by scoring an impressive 14 of them against the Chicago Bulls. The record breaking shot even received a standing ovation from the crowd at the United Center.”
You read that correctly: Thompson’s shooting was so impressive, the other team’s fans gave him a hand.
Thompson will likely miss most of this season with an ACL injury he suffered in last season’s NBA Finals. When he is in the lineup, he gives the Warriors some of the best three-point shooting in the game today. The only person that might top him is his own backcourt mate, Curry. Coincidentally, Curry is the person who held the record before Thompson.
Who was the previous record holder for three-pointers in a game?
It’s hard to pick which Warrior is a better shooter, Thompson or Curry. In at least one category, Curry had bested Thompson for quite some time: the number of threes hit in a game. On November 8, 2016, Curry set the record with 13 three-pointers:
“The two-time reigning MVP hit 13 of 17 3s in his seventh career game with double digit 3-pointers and shot 16 for 26 overall. He raised his right arm and pounded his chest, then let out a “Whoo!” when he reached the record with 2:23 to go.”
Curry’s total was equaled by Zach LeVine of the Chicago Bulls in November of this year. Curry has also hit 12 threes in a game one time and 11 three in a game a whopping seven times.
Both Curry and Thompson are expert marksmen from long-range. What impact does that have on a team?
How will history reflect on two historically good shooters being on the same team?
Right now, the Warriors are going through a rough patch. But Thompson and Curry are out due to injuries and the team won’t compete for a title this year. To get the full effect of what Curry and Thompson’s outside shooting can mean to their team, it helps to look at how they performed at their peak.
Curry and Thompson’s ability to hit so many three-pointers was beneficial for two reasons: it led to more outside shots hit by the Warriors and it opened up the lane for players like Kevin Durant and Draymond Green to get better looks. When the defense has to focus on the perimeter, they can’t collapse on the interior.
When Thompson and Curry are back in the lineup, expect the other Warriors to flourish on offense. Curry and Thompson draw so much attention that it’s almost impossible for the other players not to benefit.