There is no dearth of brilliance in the NBA. Excellent young players can join the league faster than veterans can leave. This aspect of the game breeds competition. Only the absolute best, innately gifted and miraculously hard working, make it to the topmost strata in the league.
The league's creme de la creme is notorious for its cut throat competitiveness and domination. This is only natural considering one needs to not merely reach the top but maintain that spot. And every new young player comes along trotting into the league wanting to dethrone the lords of the NBA.
With that being said, being an absolute beast of a player is not the only way to survive and thrive in the league. In fact, only a handful of every draft pick players register themselves in the history books of the NBA as some of the best to play the game.
Best 3-and-D players in the NBA history
The other way to thrive in the league is simple: Instead of being the best, be the most needed. Basketball is a team game at the end of the day. You can bring together three of the best players in the league and still not win a single playoff game. Without role players, important substitutes, and reliable off-the-bench scorers, a team is incomplete.
With respect to these selfless team players, we will discuss the top 5 3-and-D players in the history of NBA. A 3-and-D player is someone who is specifically a substantial threat from the arc and a key defensive asset to the team. These players do score from inside the arc or the paint, but the most considerable amount of their scoring comes from three-pointers.
For this reason, we will not list the likes of Klay Thompson or Vince Carter due to their additional potential threat from regions inside the arc.
#5 Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver's final few seasons in the league were marred by uncertainty. But just as luck and destiny would have it, Korver is now a player development assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. A suitable job for an excellent perimeter shooter.
Kyle's 3-and-D abilities truly bloomed from the 2012-13 to 2016-17 seasons. Kyle averaged 2.5 three-pointers made in the above-mentioned five seasons. In the most noteworthy postseason of his NBA career, 2013-14, saw him average 3.3 beyond-the-arc shots. Of his 13.4 points per game that season, Kyle scored 9.9 from just three pointers.
His job as a defensive player was highlighted during pick-and-roll and perimeter defense. Kyle was also influential as a defensive rebounder and would easily manage to snatch more than a few every night.
#4 Michael Cooper
If the three-pointer era had not taken over the world of basketball, Michael Cooper would have been the best 3-and-D player to ever pick a basketball. Unfortunately for him, fortunately for modern NBA lovers, perimeter shooting rose unhindered through 2010s and completely changed the game. There are more efficent, lethal, and common three-point scorers in the league now than ever before.
Coop Scoop is one of the greatest defenders ever for the LA Lakers'. He was known as the Larry Bird stopper, a shadow that would get under the skin of the opponents, not letting them score or execute important plays.
As a three-point shooter, perhaps the following example would give you an idea of his prowess: In game 2 of the 1987 NBA Finals, the Lakers clashed with the Boston Celtics. Despite the overwhelming presence of the NBA giants on the court that night, Cooper, a role player, knocked down 6 of the 7 attempted three-pointers.
#3 Shane Battier
Shane Battier is one of the most undermined defenders of 2000s NBA league. The guy was an absolute menace on the court. He was from a thought school where numbers and statistics did not mean a thing, impact on the game did. And even though his numbers and stats were not extraveggant, Shane's defensive impact for the Houston Rockets was intense.
One of the few defenders given the prestigious title of Kobe Bryant stopper, Shane used creative means to protect his team from a hungry Bryant's offensive assault. Battier would stick to Kobe, putting his hands up to cover the Black Mamba's eyes. He was also a tenacious ball player at the same time.
He takes third spot on this list for also being a three-pointer threat. He was obviously not as great a perimeter shooter as Kyle Korver, but his overall defensive potential and arc-shooting combined places him above Korver.
#2 Danny Green
Danny Green is a player that NBA coaches need on their roster for two particular reasons: first, stretch the opposition defense and knock down threes and second, strip the opposition off their possession.
Danny wasn't always a brilliant 3-and-D player, and surely not worthy of being second on the list of the best in the history of NBA. However, as his time in the league has gone one, Danny has become a reliable scorer from beyond the three-point line and also a great threat to the opponent's ball.
While playing for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013-14, Danny Green averaged 2.1 threes per game in the playoffs. He also averaged 1.4 steals and 0.9 turnovers for the Spurs in their NBA Championship winning run.
#1 Robert Horry
In this fan video of seven-time NBA Champion Robert Horry, Horry declares the following:
Robert Horry: Here’s the thing that people are so stupid about. They measure great players by how many championships they win. It’s the stupidest thing.
That’s like saying Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing are not great players.”
The humble Robert Horry is our number one pick as the best 3-and-D role player in the history of the NBA. Horry was averaging 2.6 threes in the 1995-96 postseason, almost two decades before Curry would usher in the three-point era. To score 7.8 points of 13.1 points per game in the 1996 playoffs is incredible
Along with these numbers from the distance, Robert was also averaging 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 1.9 turnovers. A truly exceptional 3-and-D player. Along with Danny Green, Robert Horry is one of only four players in the history of the NBA to win a championship with three different teams.
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