11 NBA Players Who Never Made A 3-Pointer

The NBA has become a three-point shooting league after the emergence of Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Since then, the three-point has been an integral part of any NBA team.

It has also been a given that any position, from the point guard to center, must have a three-point shooting skill in their arsenal to be successful in the modern NBA.

However, some NBA players spent years in the league without successfully shooting beyond the arc.

Some of the NBA players who never made a single 3-point shot in their entire career with more than 500 games are Zaza Pachulia (0-31), Michael Cage (0-25), JJ Hickson (0-21), Wayne Tisdale (0-21), Ed Pinckney (0-18), Chris Wilcox (0-18), Armen Gilliam (0-17), and Marc Iavaroni (0-17).

Now, let us dive deeper into the careers of the NBA players who never made a 3-pointer.

Ex-NBA Players Who Never Made a 3 Pointer

Zaza Pachulia driving to basket
Zaza Pachulia driving to basket by Keith Allison

The 3-point field goal has been in the NBA since 1979, but it was only in the 2010s when the league transformed into a three-point dominated league, primarily due to the success of the Golden State Warriors Dynasty, led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

However, that was not always the case. During the 1999-00 Season, the average three-point attempts per game were only around 13.7. Since the three-point revolution in the 2010s, the three-point attempts ballooned to more than thrice in just 20 years, which is 35.2 per game in the 2021-22 Season.

But there are still NBA Players to have relatively successful careers without developing an outside perimeter game. Here are the players who played more than 500 games in the league and have never made a single three-point field goal.

1. Zaza Pachulia, Center (1098 games, 0-31 3PA/M)

Zaza is more recently remembered for the Zaza Rule of NBA All-Star Voting and some dirty plays during his stint with the Warriors, where he won two NBA championships. He also spent eight seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.

However, although he played for 16 years under six different teams, he never developed a three-point shot. After more than 1,000 games, he only attempted 31 shots, missing every single one. However, he still offered value to the court, allowing him to play that long.

2. Michael Cage, Power Forward (1140 games, 0-25 3PA/M)

Cage is another player with more than a thousand games under his resume. Like Pachulia, he also plays closer to the rim than outside. His defense and rebounding allowed him to stay in the league for 15 seasons. Though without a three-point shot, he still averaged 7.3 points per game in his career.

3. JJ Hickson, Power Forward  (534 games, 0-21 3PA/M)

Hickson played a starter role in the Cleveland Cavaliers during LeBron James’ first playing stretch in Ohio from 2009-11. During that time, he was primarily playing power forward and center. With more than 500 games on his resume, he also never attempted more than 21 three-point shots in his twelve-year career.

4. Wayman Tisdale, Power Forward (840 games, 0-21 3PA/M)

Tisdale played in the NBA when big men and high-flying guards took over the league. During his playing years, most of the shots attempted were close to the basket, back-to-the-basket, or mid-range.

His era-appropriate gameplay still allowed him to succeed in the NBA without developing an outside game. He averaged 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in his 12-year career.

5. Chris Wilcox, Power Forward (628 games, 0-18 3PA/M)

Wilcox had his best years playing as a starter with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging 12.6 points per game. However, he also never made a single three-point shot in his 11 years.

6. Armen Gilliam, Power Forward (929 games, 0-17 3PA/M)

Gilliam played 929 games in the NBA without making a three-point shot. However, despite mainly playing closer to the rim, he averaged more than 10 points per game in 10 of his 13 seasons in the league.

7. Marc Iavaroni, Power Forward (531 games, 0-17 3PA/M)

Iavaroni played only seven seasons in the 80s under three teams in the NBA. As a role player, his shots are limited, and he can’t afford to waste even a single attempt. He would go on to only shoot seven three-point shots, missing all of them.

8. Pat Cummings, Power Forward (683 games, 0-16 3PA/M)

Cummings played for 12 years in the NBA and had his best years with the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, averaging more than 12 points per game. Since he played during the starting years of the three-point arc, it was rarely utilized, especially by big men who mainly played in the paint.

9. Earl Cureton, Power Forward (674 games, 0-16 3PA/M)

Cureton was a basketball journeyman, playing 12 years in the NBA, two years in Europe, and another two years in South America. During that time, he made his living in the paint, playing defense and gathering rebounds.

10. Bobby Jones, Power Forward (537 games, 0-16 3PA/M)

Bobby Jones is an All-Star, All-Defense, Sixth Man of the Year, and Hall of Famer who never made a three-point shot. However, it is also important to note that he played in the league when the three-point line was introduced.

11. Joakim Noah, Center (672 games, 0-16 3PA/M)

Like Jones, Joakim Noah is also a multi-awarded player, having been selected as an All-Star, All-Defense, and Defensive Player of the Year while playing with the Chicago Bulls alongside Derrick Rose. However, unlike Jones, Noah played in the modern NBA and witnessed the emergence of the three-point revolution.

After the Warriors won in the 2014-15 Season, the league caught up and placed more importance on players who could make three-point shots which is visible in Noah’s sudden drop in production.

Who’s the player who attempted the most 3-pointers in his career without ever making one?

Zaza Pachulia is the player who attempted the most 3-pointers in his career without making a single one. He played 1098 NBA regular season games and spent eight years with the Atlanta Hawks.

He also played two seasons with the Golden State Warriors alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the “Splash Brothers,” but he never bothered to learn and develop his outside shooting from his teammates.

Common Reasons why these Players Never Made a 3-Pointer

1. They played in a different era of the NBA

Most of the players listed as never had made a 3-point shot played during the 80s to 90s when the game was mostly dominated by big men imposing their will to the paint. The midrange shot was also a shot chosen by the best players of the league during that time, so it is what’s popular.

The NBA rules during the previous decades of the NBA were also different, which favored some shots while also discouraging other shots.

2. They never practiced the 3-point shot enough

Like any other shot, the 3-point shot must be practiced day in and day out so that you can build the muscle memory and skill to use in the actual game.

So, since most of the earlier players, especially the bigger guys, made their bodies differently and played differently, the three-point shot was never in their main offensive shots.

3. Their role was not designed to shoot 3-pointers

Most of the players listed played either the power forward or center position, so it is natural for them to spend most of their time in the paint, both on offense and defense.

Before the current long ball era of the NBA, most of the players before were designated specific roles. For example, the guards should be quick and have shooting abilities, while the frontcourt players must be big and strong to battle it in the paint.

However, that is no longer the case today. Everyone is now expected to shoot the three regardless of their position.

Is it Required to Shoot 3 Points in the NBA?

The NBA has dramatically evolved in recent years to favor the long ball. It is difficult to enter the league without a decent jumper. If you’ll recheck the list, most players who never made a single three-point shot played in the 1990s and early 2000s.

However, there are still some outliers like Ben Simmons. He is notoriously known for having no jumpers in his game despite playing the point guard position. Yet, he still managed to get selected as an All-Star, All-Defense, and All-NBA.

Another example is two-time MVP and NBA Champion, Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Despite having below-average 3-point shooting, he capitalized on his athleticism and effort to compensate for his limited shooting abilities. But, he has recently been improving his shoot, and he can still improve at only 27 years old.


The NBA is ever-changing, and greatness is redefined. With the recent changes in the rules and the emergence of elite three-point shooters who can create their shots, it is almost impossible to win the NBA title without hitting a 3-point shot.

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