08 Feb Why The 3-Point Contest Is Going To Take Center Stage at NBA All-Star Weekend 2015
One of the reasons why this year’s 3-Point contest is worth watching is because it has a star-studded cast. This year’s competitors include 7 of the top 11 most prolific 3-point artists, including the top 5 in most 3FGs made this season. Aside from the magnificent seven, defending champion Marco Belinelli, completes the line-up.
The Golden Boys
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) February 6, 2015
Leading the participants of the 3-point contest are the Splash Brothers of Golden State, who are undoubtedly the best backcourt duo in the NBA today and perhaps are the best offensive backcourt in the history of the game. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for a total of 482 three pointers in 2012-13 to claim the most combined three pointers among two teammates. They broke their own record last season, totaling 484 with Curry nailing 261 and Thompson drilling 223 to become the first teammates in NBA history to finish in the top two for total three pointers in a single season. While the Splash Brothers are breaking one three point record after another, their team is winning at a franchise best pace. The Golden State Warriors currently own the second best record in the NBA at 40-9, trailing only the Atlanta Hawks who are 42-9. But before they lost to the Hawks last February 6, they led the NBA right from the start of the season in terms of fewest losses.
A League All By Himself
Kyle Korver is on pace to have the first official 50-50-90 season (50% on FGs, 50% on 3s, 90% on FTs) in NBA history: http://t.co/awPwHo3dqI
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) January 20, 2015
The Hawks bring us to the next reason why this 3-point contest is a must-watch. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver is treading a path never before seen in the NBA. Korver, who was among the more notable snubs in the All-Star voting, is on pace to having the most efficient shooting season in NBA history. The current NBA standard for shooting excellence is 50-40-90 or 50% FG, 40%3P% and 90%FT. That has only been achieved in 10 NBA seasons by six players. If Korver continues his torrid shooting, he will be the 7th player in the 11th season. But Korver’s taking it to an even higher level because he’s on pace to shoot 50-50-90. Korver is currently shooting .519 from the field, .533 from three point distance and .920 from the foul line. If shooting at least .500 from the three point area is impressive, what do you call having a higher 3P% than your FG%? Out of this world? No, maybe you can just call it Kyle Korver.
Time To Really Fear The Beard
FEAR THE BEARD. James Harden leads the way with 27 points as the Dwight Howard-less Rockets beat Bulls, 101-90. pic.twitter.com/k5amFL6ixP
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 5, 2015
That “Fear the Beard” slogan sounds cliché but this season is really the time to fear James Harden. The Bearded one is the early season favorite to win the MVP award because he’s led the injury plagued Houston Rockets to a 35-15 record, which is fourth in the entire NBA and third in the Western Conference. Harden is likely to be named as Kobe Bryant‘s replacement as Western Conference starter just like last season because of his impressive stats. Not only is he leading the NBA in scoring at 27.1 PPG, he’s also leading the Rockets in assists at 6.7. But what makes Harden a more dangerous scorer is his ability to hit the three ball. The Beard is #5 in three point makes per game at 2.7 and total makes at 133. This means that 8.1 points of his 27.1 PPG (29.8%) comes from the three ball. Having the league’s leading scorer makes this year’s 3-point contest truly a Scorers’ Duel.
Good Old Uncle Drew
— Nick Gambetta (@NGambetta_17) January 29, 2015
Not to be outdone in this year’s 50 point scoring explosions is the Cavaliers’ “points guard” Kyrie Irving. There have only been four 50 point games so far this season and two of this season’s golden scorers have been from Golden State- you guessed it right, it’s the Splash Brothers. The third one was achieved by reserve guard Mo Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves who scored 52 points last month to help snap the Wolves’ 15 game losing skid. The 4th one, which is the highest individual scoring performance of the season so far, is Kyrie Irving’s 55 point explosion against the Blazers last January 28. Irving has a record of sorts in the All-Star Weekend because he’s won a contest in each of his three NBA seasons. He won as MVP in the Rising Stars Challenge in 2012, the 3-point contest in 2013 and the All-Star MVP last season.
Wild Wild Wes
Wesley Matthews passes Terry Porter for most 3-pointers made in Trail Blazers … http://t.co/IFSdYA3Eq5
— Wesley Matthews (@MatthewsDaily) January 18, 2015
Like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Wesley Matthews is a second generation NBA player. He is the son of former Lakers’ guard Wes Matthews. The young Matthews has charted his own piece of history when he became the Portland Trail Blazers’ All-time three point leader, surpassing the great Terry Porter last January 15 with his 774th career trifecta. Unknown to many, Matthews has been dueling Stephen Curry for the most three pointers made this season. As of February 7, Matthews is tied with Curry for the most threes this season at 156. And it’s not that he’s just making that many because Matthews is shooting at a very good .399 from that area this season. So if you think that Wes is just a filler in this contest, think again.
Better Late Than Never
— Duke Basketball (@dukeblueplanet) January 27, 2015
J.J. Redick has been in the NBA for nine years and since he’s arrived, he’s always been known for his long bombs. But despite being one of the best pure shooters in the NBA, he’s never been given an invite to the 3-point contest. That has changed this year in what is Redick’s best three point shooting season ever in his NBA career. The former Duke Blue Devil great is tied for #8 in 3P% at .432 and is #9 in three point makes at 114. Those 114 makes are a Clippers’ franchise record for most three pointers at this stage of the season. Officially, the last time Redick’s been a three point contest was at the end of his high school year. It was at the McDonald’s All American All-Star game and he won as champion. Interestingly, that was also held in New York. Will lightning strike twice for J.J. Redick in the 2015 All-Star Weekend?
King Defends His Crown
Marco Belinelli (SA) will defend his Three-Point Shootout title. He's looking to be the 1st repeat winner since Jason Kapono in 2007 & 2008.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 6, 2015
Injuries have been a big part of the season for the defending champion San Antonio Spurs as it has been for guard Marco Belinelli. When Belinelli was cleared to play on February 4, it was the first time since Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals that the Spurs had everyone healthy and ready to play. Belinelli missed 11 games before returning last February 4 and he’s only appeared in a total of 31 games this season. But during December 2014 when he was healthy, he shot .406 from three point distance. He’s gone 3-6 in his first two games back and you can bet that he’s going to be ready on Saturday night to defend his title.
Evolution of The Game
The game of basketball has evolved from the days when Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points and won league MVP while shooting .182 from behind the rainbow line. During that 1988 season, teams hoisted an average of 401 three pointers. Last season, the average has ballooned to 1,766 per squad. The San Antonio Spurs used impeccable three point shooting to beat Miami’s powerful Big Three in the 2014 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks who top the NBA’s standings this season use the three ball as a main weapon. Three point records everywhere are being broken-team or individual. If you look at the statistical leaderboard, there are 4 players who make at least three 3-pointers per game. That’s never happened before.
The three point line is 22 feet from the corners and 23.75 from top of the key. On the stat books, it’s just one extra point from the regular basket. But it’s now the difference between winners and losers. Look at the team standings and see who’s on top. Eight of the most accurate three point teams are in playoff positions while nine of the top ten teams in three point makes per game similarly hold postseason places. The two best teams in the NBA are in the Top 4 for both categories. It is what it is right now and that’s half of what makes Saturday’s 3-point contest a can’t miss. The other half is of course we’ll be watching the best of the best 3-point gunners in the league.
Like the dunk, 3-point shooting is an art. But in the absence of artistic dunkers like Dr. J, Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter, the Dunk contest has been relegated to second class. Dunks still wow fans during games, but it’s those three balls that are winning ballgames nowadays.