Preview of the 2013 Foot Locker Three-Point Competition[caption id="attachment_14343" align="aligncenter" width="613"] Photo Credit:
USA TODAY Sports[/caption]
WESTRyan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets Ryan Anderson has become an assassin. Few big men can shoot the three ball consistently, and even fewer can drain it with the regularity that Anderson does. He hasn’t been hurt by the shift from Orlando where he was Dwight Howard’s double team threat, and he has continued to bury the long ball with three makes a game. He’s made at least one three in 49 of his 52 games this year, including an absurd 3.5 per game in 17 games as a starter. By The Numbers: 157 three pointers made from 391 attempts @ 40.2% Season high 8 three pointers made @ PHO, 23 Nov 2012 (also career high).
Matt Bonner, San Antonio Spurs The Red Rocket has the coolest nickname of all the competitors in the comp, and he’s also the luckiest to be here from either conference. He’s not like the other guys, ie a starter or key role player who gets 30 minutes a night, but he’s ranked 13th in NBA history for three point field goal percentage. While he doesn’t have the star power as some of his fellow competitors, Bonner gets hot quick when he leaps of the bench wearing a ginger cape. His case was of course helped by his brother and other online followers who hatched the twitter campaign #LETBONNERSHOOT. Consider him a pasty dark-horse with a point to prove that he belongs to be here. By The Numbers: 37 three pointers made from 82 attempts @ 45.1% Season high 3 three pointers made, three times this season, most recently @ BRO, 10 February 2013 Career high 7 three pointers made @ OKC, 14 November 2010.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors The former Davidson product has put forward his body of work to take the mantle of NBA’s best all round shooter from Steve Nash. His numbers are impressive as a shooter, and he’s the only man who could legitimately challenge Ryan Anderson in making the most threes this season. Quite remarkably, he ranks second in league history in three point percentage at 44.3%, and he hasn’t finished outside the top seven in that category since he arrived four seasons ago. Curry is again leading the league in free throw percentage this year, but it’s his 3.1 threes made per game which has got him here. Tough to argue with anyone who would make him odds on favourite this year. By The Numbers: 147 three pointers made from 328 attempts @ 44.8% Season high 8 three pointers made vs CHA, 21 December 2012 (also career high).
EASTKyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers Along with Curry he might be the most dangerous guy on the list, especially if he gets into the latter rounds when the clutch factor comes in. The guy is just deadly when the game is on the line, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he does end up winning it. While the Cavs are still looking for a sidekick for the Duke product, he doesn’t shirk any responsibility and he’ll be a mainstay of both the All Star Game as well as the three point comp. He’s fourth in usage percentage this season and sixth in scoring, and hey, he’s still only 20 years old. By The Numbers: 82 three pointers made from 192 attempts @ 42.7% Season high 5 three pointers made, three times this season, most recently vs CHA, 6 February 2013 Career high 6 three pointers made vs MIL, 30 March 2012.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers Probably the most exciting player in the three point comp, you could argue that he could have done the double of entering the dunk comp also. George is a unique player in that he has the height of a power forward, but he has the speed and skill-set of a shooting guard, so the Pacers naturally put him at small forward when Danny Granger limped out of the gates. He’s a player who has really worked on his game, honing his three point shooting which was initially a weakness – he shot just 29.7% his rookie year – into the key asset in his offensive arsenal. He’s slightly more inconsistent than a Curry or Irving type, but when he gets hot he can really hit the long ball. By The Numbers: 114 three pointers made from 294 attempts @ 38.8% Season high 9 three pointers made vs NOR, 21 November 2012 (also career high).
Steve Novak, New York Knicks The prototypical specialist three point gunner, and the three point competition really needed either Novak or Kyle Korver to beef up the East. Novak was finally given some job security by the Knicks after pacing the NBA in three point percentage last year at just over 47% and while his minutes have gone up, his overall numbers have gone down. While his Knicks team-mate Carmelo Anthony beats him in makes in attempts, Novak still makes nearly two threes per game at a higher clip. Career wise, he’s fourth all time in three point percentage, trailing only the aforementioned Curry among active players. If he gets hot, his name might end up on the trophy. By The Numbers: 93 three pointers made from 211 attempts @ 44.1% Season high 5 three pointers made, five times this season, most recently vs SAC, 2 February 2013 Career high 8 three pointers made vs BOS, 17 April 2012.
FINAL WORD If I had to wager the life savings, my money would be on Ryan Anderson. He’s shown consistency, an ability to come off the bench – much like the competition format – and he’s made the most threes over the last three seasons.