February 08, 2011
The NBA has released its list of participants for this month's 3-point contest, and, oh boy. There are going to be a few hackles raised.
Defending champion Paul Pierce(notes), soon-to-be all-time threes leader Ray Allen(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes) will join Golden State's Dorell Wright(notes), Miami's James Jones(notes) and Cleveland's Daniel Gibson(notes). All are fantastic shooters, but only one of them is hitting below the league's average (36.1 percent) this year, and that's MVP candidate Durant.
So, in choosing the Thunder forward, the league is leaving itself prone to the criticism that it went for a big name, ahead of players who are having better shooting seasons. People like San Antonio's Matt Bonner(notes) or New York's Shawne Williams(notes) have made more than half of the 3-pointers they've attempted this season, and they missed the cut. Denver's Aaron Afflalo is hitting 45 percent, and famous point men like Chris Paul(notes), Chauncey Billups(notes) and Mike Bibby(notes) all have Durant licked in terms of shooting percentage. And somewhere, in an empty gym, New Jersey's Anthony Morrow(notes) just made 20 threes in a row.
With that said, I say it's Durant's contest to lose. Because of his range and athleticism, he's the perfect candidate for an exhibition like this. There are other shooters who I'd want spotting up behind the 3-point arc, wide open, with the game on the line, but for a competition where you have to fire off 25 shots in a limited amount of time, from sideline to sideline? My money's on Durant.
(Don't bet on the 3-point shootout, though. Seriously, guys.)