Milestones: Long-range shooters reached new heights in 2020-21

Jun 22, 2021 by by Darius Garuolis Print

It was a banner year for three-point shooters. Teams are shooting more three-pointers than ever before, which means more tries – and makes – from downtown for the best of the best. The 2020-21 campaign saw several players reach milestones that were once thought to be unattainable. Olympiacos Piraeus legend Vassilis Spanoulis became the second player in competition with 500 career triples, while Real Madrid sharpshooter Jaycee Carroll, Alexey Shved of Khimki Moscow Region and Arturas Milaknis of Zalgiris Kaunas each made his 400th career three.

Spanoulis is the competition's all-time leading scorer (4,455 points) and only Juan Carlos Navarro (623) has scored more than his 518 shots from beyond the arc. He may not be a shooting specialist, having made 32.1% of his three-point shots, but because Spanoulis has always had the ball to generate for him and his teammates on offense, that has forced him to take a lot of tough shots in the dying seconds of possessions. On the other hand, it should be no surprise that Spanoulis ranks first in assists (1,607), fouls drawn (1,583) and free throws made (1,131).

Shved became the fastest player to get to 400 threes, needing just 157 games to do so. No other player ever made as many threes in fewer than 200 games. Gianluca Basile, the first player to reach that milestone, was the fastest to reach it and he needed 209 games to do so. It may come as no surprise that Shved leads the all-time standings in three-point shots attempted per game (7.34). He holds the record with 11.14 attempts per game, set in the 2018-19 campaign.

Carroll attempted more shots from outside the arc than inside it in seven of his last eight seasons in the competition. Not surprisingly, he's taken more three-pointers (1,038) than two-pointers (908) in his EuroLeague career. Milaknis takes those numbers to another level; he barely shoots inside the arc. Milaknis has taken three and a half times as many three-point shots as twos, shooting 948 times from downtown and only 271 times inside the arc in his 11-year EuroLeague career. As shooting specialists, both Milaknis (42.6%) and Carroll (42.1%) have always had great three-point accuracy. No other players with 400 three-point shots made have shot at least 40% for their careers.

Only 10 players have made at least 400 three-point shots in the history of the competition. There are three Spanish players close to joining Spanoulis and Navarro in the 500 club: Sergio Rodriguez is third with 497, followed by Rudy Fernandez (494) and Sergio Llull (489). Basile (421) played his last EuroLeague game in 2013 and retired from basketball in 2016. Milos Teodosic (471) spent the past two seasons with 7DAYS EuroCup powerhouse Virtus Segafredo Bologna and at age 34, he may return to the EuroLeague and break the 500 milestone, too. Nando De Colo (346) and Scottie Wilbekin (340) are in the best situations to reach 400 three-point shots next season when more milestones are sure to come from downtown.