There's no room for creativity in the 3-point contest. You grab the ball from a rack and fire away. It's your choice as to what side to grab the leather from, I suppose, but beyond that, there's not a whole heck of a lot in terms of individual derring-do.
Then again, since the NBA started up its All-Star weekend activities back in 1984, the shootout has always been there. The Old-Timers Game, dunk contest, 2Ball -- these things have come and gone. And come back. And hopefully gone away for good. But the 3-point contest remains. Hear, hear.
Let's break this old man down.
Here are the participants:
Ray Allen(notes), Boston Celtics
Kevin Durant(notes), Oklahoma City Thunder
Daniel Gibson(notes), Cleveland Cavaliers
James Jones(notes), Miami Heat
Paul Pierce(notes), Boston Celtics
Dorell Wright(notes), Golden State Warriors
This, I think, could be a white-hot crew.
There are types to this game. Specialists and big men don't usually do well here. Streaky guys can do quite well in this contest, and athletes (having to run and knock in rack after rack in a short amount of time) have an advantage above all. And this group boasts a good mixture of all types.
Ray Allen just broke the NBA record for the most 3-pointers hit in a career. He's clearly quite good at this. You should read his pamphlets on the subject.
Paul Pierce is not only the returning champion, but the surprising selection from last year has actually built on his hot run from last February, putting together a career-high mark in 3-point percentage until a recent 4-for-27 stretch turned his totals sour.
Kevin Durant is my favorite, mainly because of his streakiness and his indefatigable way around a basketball court. By far, he has the worst 3-point percentage of any of the participants (making just 33.8 percent this year; the league average is 36 percent). But he can dance around that arc without breaking a sweat, and I like his chances above all.
Daniel Gibson is the smallest participant in a contest that hasn't been kind to shorter guards all that often. Steve Kerr, Mark Price, Voshon Lenard, Daequan Cook(notes) and Tim Legler have all had their luck (Jeff Hornacek had a few inches on that group), but more often than not the shorter, sweet-shooting guards fall, eh, short. Prove me wrong Daniel, and give Cavs fans a thrill in an otherwise tough season.
James Jones, at last count, has hit four 2-pointers all year (16, actually, but 16 twos in 56 games?), and he's been a killer from the corners all year. Jones has hit 42 percent of his bombs this season (93 of 220), and if his confidence is up, look out.
Dorell Wright has the lowest Q rating of all the participants, but the guy can stroke. His chances, to me, are somewhat mitigated by the fact that he has hit just a third of his 3-point attempts in the month of February (though he's still over 40 percent overall from long range) -- although I do recall Steve Kerr going through a similar swoon before owning the 1997 3-point contest.
I like Durant, but each player is a viable candidate to run away with this.
Whatta you reckon?