Perhaps the NBA Slam Dunk contest gets most of the attention during All-Star weekend, but it wouldn't be a stretch to call the Three-Point contest the most thrilling competition of them all, as players race against time to tickle the twine from long range.
The Three-Point contest has been in existence since 1986, with Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird winning the first three competitions. While there isn't anyone with Bird's Hall-of-Fame pedigree in this year's contest, there are plenty of intriguing contenders.
Miami Heat forward James Jones will be looking to defend his crown, but there is no shortage of strong challengers. Perhaps most interesting is Minnesota Timberwolves star power forward Kevin Love, who is thought of by most as a post scorer and rebounder, although he has a smooth shooting touch as well.
With such a wide open field, this year's Three-Point contest figures to be one of the more wide open ones in recent memory. Everyone in the competition has a legitimate chance to win, making it a must-see event during All-Star weekend.
Where: Amway Arena in Orlando, Fla.
When: Saturday, Feb. 25 at 8:30 p.m. EST
Participants (According to NBA.com)
James Jones (MIA)
Mario Chalmers (MIA)
Kevin Durant (OKC)
Anthony Morrow (NJ)
Ryan Anderson (ORL)
Kevin Love (MIN)
Odds (According to Bovada)
Anthony Morrow (3/1)
Ryan Anderson (13/4)
James Jones (15/4)
Mario Chalmers (4/1)
Kevin Durant (5/1)
Kevin Love (6/1)
Dark Horse to Watch: Kevin Love
Timberwolves forward Kevin Love isn't being given much of a chance by most to win the contest, but there's reason to believe he can contend. In terms of being an in-game three-point shooter, Love is impressive considering his 6'10", 260-lb. frame. He has a career percentage of 36.6 percent from beyond the arc and is making 1.6 threes per game this season.
He has a nice, smooth shooting stroke that should serve him well in a contest that is predicated on rhythm. If he can stay in tune, then he should have no issue going from rack to rack and clearing the board. The biggest problem most shooters have in the three-point contest is an inability to repeat their shooting motion, but Love shouldn't have that issue. Love is the underdog heading into the competition, but he certainly has a puncher's chance.
Predicted Winner: Ryan Anderson
When considering who the best shooter in the NBA might be, it would be easy to gloss over Orlando Magic forward Ryan Anderson. At 6'10", he isn't supposed to be a better shooter than most guards, but the fact of the matter is that he may be the most deadly three-point shooter in the league. Over the course of his career he hits threes at nearly a 40 percent clip. Anderson has been unconscious from downtown this year in particular, sinking three trifectas per game, while making 44 percent of his attempts.
Anderson is a pure shooter, and that is precisely the type of player that can win this competition. Anybody can win one round in the three-point contest, but it takes a consistent shooter like Anderson to go the distance. One underrated factor that I believe helps Anderson is the fact that he has home-court advantage. Some might say that there is added pressure in front of the home fans, but Anderson should feed off the crowd's energy, and his familiarity with the court will help him take home the prize.