If somebody asked you to name the top five shooters of all-time who would you say? Most people would include names like Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Steve Kerr, and Mark Price. All of these guys have had terrific NBA careers and are most known for their shooting ability. The two best known shooters of this past decade are Ray Allen and Reggie Miller. There has been a lot of debate over the years about who is the better shooter out of these two.
The thing that makes this such a great debate is how similar these guys career statistics are. One thing you do have to consider when looking at the following numbers is the years played by these two. Reggie Miller played eighteen years in his NBA career and retired at the age of forty. Ray Allen is currently thirty-four years old and in his fifteenth year in the league. Given that Ray plays three to five more years his numbers could go up, or down in stats such as three point percentage. So without further delay here are some interesting stats comparing these two future hall-of-famers.
- Three Point Percentage - Ray Allen has a regular season three point percentage of 39.7% and a post season three point percentage of 38.3%. Reggie Miller has a season three point percentage of 39.5% and a post season three point percentage of 39.0%. Advantage: Reggie Miller.
I am sure I am going to take a lot of heat for this one but Reggie has a better combined percentage and has performed better when it matters. Ray also has a few years left to catch up to Reggie’s 18 years in the league, if the beginning of this year is any indication I expect Ray’s percentages to slightly decrease.
- Three Point Field Goals Made – Allen has made 2,299 three pointers over the first fourteen years of his career, that’s an average of 164 three point shots made each year. Miller made 2,560 three pointers during his eighteen year career, that’s an average of 142 three pointers made each year. Advantage: Ray Allen
After fifteen games this year Ray has made eighteen three point field goals to bring his total to 2,317. He now trails Reggie by 243. If he can stick around the league for three or four more years he will eventually break Reggie’s record.
- Field Goal Percentage – Ray has a career field goal percentage of 44.8%. Reggie averaged 47.1% during his time in the NBA. Advantage: Reggie Miller
I’m basing this advantage on what the stats say right now. Over Reggie Miller’s career he found different ways to score besides just shooting from behind the arc. Ray Allen started out his career the same way but the past few years started focusing more on the deep ball, and less on scoring other ways. This year Ray is proving to opponents he can still score other ways, and is less focused on the deep ball. Because of this I think Ray’s FG% will slightly increase in the next few years, but for now Reggie has the advantage in this category.
- Free Throw Percentage - Over Ray Allen’s career he has averaged 89.3% from the charity stripe. Reggie Miller is not far from that, averaging 88.8% from the line. Advantage: Ray Allen
Both of these guys are, and were, terrific shooters from the charity stripe. After all, the stats don’t lie, both of these guys are in the top ten in NBA history. Ray is currently fourth all time behind Mark Price, Rick Berry, and Steve Nash. There is no other player I would want on the line, with the game on the line, than Ray Allen.
- NBA Three Point Shootout – Ray Allen won the three point shootout in 2001. Despite attempting to win the competition five times (1989,1990,1993,1995, and 1998) Reggie Miller ended his career without winning this crown. Advantage: Ray Allen
It hard to give Reggie the advantage in this category when he has never come through during the competition. All the other great shooters have won this crown at one point in their career. Ray Allen (1), Larry Bird (3), Mark Price (2), and Steve Kerr (1) have all won this award at least once. This may just mean Ray is a better spot shooter or that Reggie was just never focused enough to win, but either way the advantage here goes to Ray Ray.
Like I said earlier in this post, the stats do not make it any easier to decide who the better shooter is. In most of these categories the differences between these two is too small to make a broad statement that one is better than the other. To make my decision I really had to look beyond the stats.
The one thing that really stood out to me is that Ray has the bling bling. Reggie was a better shooter, stats wise, during the playoffs but he never got an NBA championship ring. Ray Allen did what he needed to do and shot the ball well enough to push the Boston Celtics to the top during the 2007-2008 season. During the playoffs that year Ray shot 39.6%, slightly above his career average, from behind the arc. He made shots when they mattered and as a result he is a proud owner of a NBA championship ring.
It is truly scary how similar these guys are, the more and more you research these two the more amazed you will become. It was, and is, very hard to find differences between these two great athletes. They are both excellent shooters from anywhere on the floor and will most definitely go down as the greatest shooters of all time.
Using a little bit of my Celtics bias, and one difference I COULD find, I choose Ray Allen as the better shooter. Let us know what you think, who do you think is the better shooter, Ray Allen or Reggie Miller?