What is the NBA's 50-40-90 club, and who are its members?
The NBA made headlines earlier this season when it released its heavily-hyped 75th Anniversary Team. The list of league legends was touted for its exclusivity, but there’s actually a far more exclusive group within the Association, and it’s had just nine members for the past five decades.
We’re referring, of course, to the famed 50-40-90 Club. Established in 1987, this group features players who have shot 50% from the field, 40% from the 3-point line, and 90% from the free-throw-line over the course of a full season.
Cross over the velvet rope and come along as we introduce you to the 50-40-90 Club’s sharp-shooting members.
Larry Bird (1986-87, 1987-88)
Larry Bird became the charter member of the 50-40-90 Club during the 1986-87 season, when he recorded a .525/.400/.910 slash line for the defending champion Boston Celtics. It was the first of two straight 50-40-90 seasons for the "Hick from French Lick", who would go on to become the first player in NBA history to win MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year honors.
Mark Price (1988-89)
Mark Price may not be enshrined in Springfield, but he's on virtually everyone’s list of the greatest shooters in NBA history. The crafty point guard led the NBA in free-throw percentage in back-to-back seasons in 1991-92 and 1992-93, and has the third best career mark from the charity stripe at .904.
A four-time All-Star, Price punched his ticket for the 50-40-90 Club in just his third year in the league, when he recorded a .526/.441/.901 slash line with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Reggie Miller (1993-94)
The only player to crack the 50-40-90 Club during the rough and tumble 90s, Reggie Miller gained admission in 1993-94, when he shot 50.3% from the field, 42.1% from deep, and 90.8% from the free-throw line for the 47-win Indiana Pacers. Not bad for a guy who crossed his arms every time he released a shot.
Miller led the NBA in three-throw accuracy five times in his 18-year career and ranks third in 3-point field goals, and 14th in true shooting percentage, a tell-tale metric that measures overall efficiency.
Steve Nash (2005-06, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10)
It may seem blasphemous to suggest, but the best shooter on the Brooklyn Nets isn’t Kevin Durant, James Harden, or even Joe Harris. It’s the team’s unassuming coach, Steve Nash.
The only four-time member of the 50-40-90 Club, the plucky Canadian was a dead-eye shooter who led the NBA in free-throw percentage twice and finished his Hall of Fame career with a blistering .490/.428/.904 slash line.
Although Nash preferred to pass rather than shoot, he could light up the scoreboard with the best of ‘em, and once torched the Dallas Mavericks for 48 points in Game 4 of the 2005 Western Conference Semifinals.
Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07)
One of Nash’s favorite teammates is next on our list. Dirk Nowitzki was admitted into the club in 2006-07, when the German superstar hit 50.2% of his field goals, 41.6% of his 3-pointers, and 90.4% of his free-throws. Nowitzki’s exploits earned him the MVP award that season, but he wouldn’t gain true legendary status until four years later in 2011, when he helped the Dallas Mavericks capture their first NBA Championship in franchise history.
Kevin Durant (2012-13)
Surprisingly, Kevin Durant has only cracked the 50-40-90 Club once in his decorated career – way back in 2012-13 – but that could change this season. The "Slim Reaper" is presently shooting 58.6% from the floor, 42.4% from downtown, and 84.0% from the line, and is on pace to lead the NBA in scoring for the fifth time.
One of the league’s most lethal weapons, Durant ranks in the top 10 all-time in points per game, offensive box plus/minus, and player efficiency rating. Now, if only he could convince the final member of our list to show up for practice…
Stephen Curry (2015-16)
Considered by many to be the greatest shooter of all-time, Curry joined the 50-40-90 Club in 2015-16 when he shot 50.4% from the floor, 45.4% from deep, and hit a league-best 90.8% of his freebies. His deadly marksmanship helped him earn his first scoring title, and paved the way for the Golden State Warriors to set an NBA record with 73 wins in the regular season.
Curry’s accuracy proved to be infectious that season, as the Dubs led the NBA in field goal percentage (48.7%), 3-point percentage (41.6%), and effective field goal percentage (55.4%), and finished second in true shooting percentage (58.5%).
Malcolm Brogdon (2018-19)
Didn’t expect to see Malcolm Brogdon on this list, did you? The former Rookie of the Year joined the ranks of the immortals in 2018-19, when he shot 50.5% from the floor, 42.6% from beyond the arc, and 92.8% from the line with the Milwaukee Bucks. In fact, he only missed 11 free-throws all year.
The mild-mannered point guard has since developed into a high-volume scorer for the Pacers, and is in the midst of averaging 20+ points per game for the second consecutive season.
Kyrie Irving (2020-21)
Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to ignore Kyrie Irving’s transcendent ability to fill up the hoop. The seven-time All-Star capped off one of his finest seasons as a pro in 2020-21 when he finished with an impressive .506/.403/.922 slash line.
Irving’s remarkable accuracy helped stake Brooklyn to a 48-24 record, and the club advanced to the second round of the playoffs before injuries to Kyrie, and others, sent the Nets packing.