In his last full NBA season (2002-03), Glen Rice connected on his 4.1 3-point attempts per game at a 39.8 percent clip. Rice finished his career having knocked down 1,559 triples while shooting 40 percent from deep.
Despite being such a dangerous threat from beyond the arc, Rice finished his career averaging fewer than four 3-point attempts per game. While 3.9 attempts per game might seem surprisingly low for one of the greatest shooters in league history, it is a direct representation of the game's evolution.
NBA.com recently sat down with Rice to get a shooter's perspective on how the game has changed, how he'd fit in today and a few shooters that he admires.
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In the 15 years since Rice retired, the 3-point shot has evolved into one of the most dangerous weapons in the game. This season, 114 players attempt at least 4.0 threes per game, with league leader James Harden attempting 13.8 triples per contest.
Naturally, the one-time champ shared that he's a fan of the direction the game is going: "I like it. I'm a 3-point shooter, so obviously I like to see guys shoot the three."
Rice continued, sharing that, "It's amazing to me that you have so many big guys who are stepping out there and [are] able to shoot the 3-pointer, and do it well. It helps the game, it definitely widens the floor. It gives guys who can shoot and dribble an opportunity to be that much more explosive and better offensively - it's doing the game a real good justice."
While it once was a surprise to see a big man attempt a long-range shot, centres like Brook Lopez, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns and DeMarcus Cousins have done plenty to change the narrative surrounding bigs and shooting. Lopez, who is attempting over six triples per game this season, is doing so at a 36.5 percent rate.
As Rice felt the game's evolution has only made it better, it makes sense that he believes he'd thrive in this era.
The 1997 All-Star Game MVP laughed as he shared with NBA.com that in today's game, "If you like eating a lot you'll get full on me!"
"Like I said earlier, when I was playing, if we shot six 3-pointers as an individual [per] game, we thought we were shooting too many threes," Rice added. "The opportunity to get out there and maybe shoot 15 3-pointers a game? I would really hurt myself if wasn't averaging 30 points per game. It would really be a great time."
Rice's best scoring year was with the Hornets in the 1996-97 season, where he averaged 26.8 points per game while connecting on 47 percent of his 5.6 3-point attempts per game. That year, the most threes Rice attempted in a game was 13 (he sank five) and he knocked down six triples on two different occasions.
As a member of the Lakers in 1999, Rice scored 40 points thanks to a career-high eight triples (on 10 attempts). When looking at the numbers, you can't help but think a shooter of Rice's calibre would thrive in today's game when given the opportunity to attempt over 10 threes with regularity.
Shifting forward to this current era, Rice needed to look no further than the two-time defending champs to dish out praise to the best shooters in the game.
"It's hard not to like what Steph Curry's doing. I had seen him shooting at a young age when I was here in Charlotte and he would come in and shoot with us."
Rice and Steph's father, Dell, spent three seasons together as teammates with the Hornets. As a result, Rice has the unique perspective of having watched Stephen Curry develop from a very young age.
As far as a player he sees himself in? Curry's backcourt mate immediately came to mind.
"One of the guys I admire a lot is Klay Thompson. When I look at him, I see a lot of similarities in the way I shoot - he's like 6-7, 6-8, got a perfect form and, when he gets going … there's nobody other than maybe Steph that can shoot the ball as well as he does."
Thompson showed he has the ability to get hotter than anyone in the league with his performance in which he drained 14 treys, breaking a record previously held by Curry. With their dynamic, Curry could very well put forth another record-breaking performance before we know it.