What is a Good 3-point Percentage in Basketball

What is a Good 3-Point Percentage in Basketball?

Basketball has a way of keeping fans on the edge of their seats, and nothing does this quite like a successful three-point shot swishing through the net. Over the years, the art of shooting from beyond the arc has not only become a crowd-puller but also a game-changer in crucial situations.

Let’s closely examine three-point shooting and figure out what really makes for a good three-point percentage.

The Three-Point Shot and Modern Basketball

Three-pointers, those long-range shots taken from beyond a magical arc, have become as integral to basketball as slam dunks and crossover dribbles.

In the modern game, they’re not just showstoppers but difference-makers who can tilt the match in favor of the shooting team. With the evolution of players’ skills and strategies, three-point shots have become a powerful tool in a team’s arsenal.

Determining a Good Three-Point Percentage

Getting a grip on what constitutes a good three-point percentage (3PT%) can offer a fresh perspective when watching a game. It’s like having a new lens to appreciate the sharpshooting prowess of players.

Let’s break down how the experts gauge a good three-point percentage and how it plays out in the big league.

Explanation of Three-Point Percentage (3PT%) Statistic

Three-Point Percentage is quite straightforward. It’s the number of three-pointers made divided by the number of attempts, expressed as a percentage. For example, making 35 out of 100 3-pointers would equate to a 35% shooter.

This simple ratio is a window into a player’s efficiency from beyond the arc. A higher percentage typically indicates a more reliable three-point shooter.

Analysis of League Averages and Elite Shooter Percentages

The league average 3-point percentage has hovered around 35-36% over the recent NBA seasons.

However, elite sharpshooters often surpass the 40% mark. Players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have seasons where they shoot well above this average, showcasing their elite status as two of the best three-point shooters of all time.

Impact of Volume Shooting on Three-Point Percentage

Volume shooting, or the number of attempts a player takes, can also impact the three-point percentage.

Some players may maintain a high percentage by being selective, while others may have a slightly lower percentage but contribute more three-pointers due to a higher volume of attempts. It’s a delicate balance between efficiency and contribution.

To give you an example here, the highest 3PT% for any player in any season is Steve Kerr at 52.4%1 shooting roughly two three-pointers per game.

On the other hand, Steph Curry (widely considered the greatest 3-point shooter ever) had one of his highest seasons ever at 45.4% but took over 11 threes per game!

Factors Influencing Three-Point Percentage

The pathway to becoming a proficient three-point shooter is sprinkled with various factors that can affect a player’s percentage. From the type of shots taken to the strategies deployed by teams, let’s explore what goes into making or missing that shot from downtown.

Role of Shot Selection and Shot Difficulty

Not all three-point shots are created equal.

Some come from a fast break with no defenders around, while others are taken with the shot clock winding down and a defender in your face. Shot selection and the difficulty of shots can significantly impact a player’s three-point percentage.

Back to our Steve Kerr example – how many of those threes he took in 94-95 do you think were wide open because teams were focused on that Jordan guy?

Influence of Team Strategy and Offensive System

The offensive system a team employs can also play a big role. Teams that prioritize ball movement and creating open looks from beyond the arc often have players with higher three-point percentages. It’s about creating those high-percentage opportunities that can make a difference in a player’s 3PT%.

Impact of Player Position and Defensive Pressure

Different positions may have different expectations when it comes to three-point shooting. For instance, guards (especially shooting guards) are often expected to have a better percentage compared to centers.

Additionally, the amount of defensive pressure faced can also influence a player’s percentage.

Historical Perspective

Basketball has a rich history, and the tale of the three-point shot’s evolution is a captivating chapter in that narrative. From its introduction to the transformation in how it’s utilized, the three-point shot has come a long way.

Brief History of Three-Point Shooting

The three-point line was introduced in the NBA in the 1979-1980 season, providing an extra incentive for those daring long-range shots.

Initially, it was seen more as a novelty or a desperate attempt to catch up in a losing game. But as time went on, players and coaches started realizing its potential.

Three-Point Percentages Over the Decades

As players honed their skills, the league’s average three-point percentage began to rise.

The 80s and 90s saw a gradual acceptance, but it was in the 2000s and especially the 2010s, with the emergence of sharpshooters like Stephen Curry, that the three-point shot became a staple in team offenses. The average percentages went up, and so did the number of attempts.

To give you an example, in the 1987-88 season, the league 3PT% was 31.6. In 2021-22 that number had elevated to 35.2%. That’s a solid increase, however even more astonishing was back in 87-88 teams were averaging five 3-pointers per game. By 21-22, that number had grown to 35.2!1

Notable Sharpshooters and Perceptions

Players like Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, and Stephen Curry have left indelible marks with their prowess from beyond the arc. Their success not only enthralled fans but also inspired a generation of players to work on their three-point shooting.

The magical performances of these sharpshooters have helped in establishing a benchmark for what is considered a good three-point percentage in the minds of fans and analysts alike.


We dove into the world of three-point shooting in basketball and learned a bunch! We looked back at how three-point shots started, what makes a good three-point percentage, and what can change it. It’s like a peek into how basketball has grown and how players aim to get better.

And for those dreaming of being great shooters, keep practicing!


  1. Statmuse.com

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