Odds and Predictions for the 2013 NBA Three-Point Contest
The NBA announced the names of the participants in the 2013 Three-Point Contest on Feb. 7, and it's a group chock-full of the league's deadliest long-range bombers.
2013 NBA Three-Point Contest participants twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 8, 2013
We know the entire field can fill it up from distance, but figuring out who's the most likely to walk away from the competition as the winner is a more complicated matter.
None of the contestants have ever won a shootout in the past, and only Stephen Curry (2010) and Ryan Anderson (2012) have even competed before. So history is of no help here.
Clearly, the winning shooter will have to feature a quick release, a love of pressure and the ability to maintain good mechanics when tired. After considering all of those factors, as well as a few variables, we've compiled the odds and made some predictions about this year's contest.
So if the bulbs in your house start to flicker on All-Star Saturday, don't worry; it'll only be because these guys are shooting the lights out.
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Whether or not the unequivocally awesome #LetBonnerShoot campaign is responsible, it's great to see Matt Bonner in this year's three-point shootout.
The San Antonio Spurs' specialist has knocked down at least 42 percent of his triples in six of his nine NBA seasons, so it's a little odd that it took an online petition and a Twitter uprising to raise enough awareness to get the "Red Rocket" into the contest.
But he'll be in Houston to try his luck, so that's all that matters.
Unfortunately, a slow release may doom Bonner. He's a great open shooter on the catch for the Spurs, but his awkward load-and-set motion might prevent him from getting through all five racks of balls. And we all know the only thing worse than missing shots is not getting them up at all.
Sorry, Matt. You've got the longest odds on the board. But take heart; Kevin Love was pegged as a long shot last year, and he won the whole thing.
Odds to Win: 7/1
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Three-point shooting isn't the first thing that comes to mind when discussing Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George, but that's as much a result of his all-around brilliance as it is a statement on his surprisingly better-than-average long-range stroke.
George has knocked down triples at a 38 percent clip this year, and he's been remarkably consistent throughout the season. In every month this year, he has hit between 38.5 and 39.1 percent of his three-point shots. You'd think that that kind of steadiness would bode well for George's prospects.
Normally, that'd be true. But in this six-player field, George's percentage is the worst of the bunch.
It's a testament to George's versatility that he's equally comfortable in a three-point shootout and a dunk contest, but this thing is going to be won by somebody a little more specialized.
Odds to Win: 6/1
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At 44 percent on the season, Steve Novak has the NBA's third-best three-point shooting percentage. But based on our assessments, he only has the fourth-best odds to win the shootout at All-Star Weekend this year.
That's not really a knock on Novak, who has the ability to get insanely hot from long range. Instead, it's an endorsement of the guys listed ahead of him.
More than any other player in the competition, Novak relies exclusively on his long-distance shot to be effective for the New York Knicks. Unfortunately, two facts hurt his chances.
First, he'll have to shoot 60 percent of his shots from areas other than his beloved corners. And second, it's really going to slow his momentum when he does a Discount Double-Check after every make.
Odds to Win: 11/2
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The sheer volume of shots required in the a three-point shootout certainly won't bother New Orleans Hornets gunner Ryan Anderson. After all, he leads the league by a wide margin with 370 total attempts this season.
At just a hair under 40 percent from three, Anderson is by no means a volume shooter, though.
His experience in last year's contest, in which Anderson put up a respectable 17 points in a first-round elimination, should help with any nerves he might feel this time around.
But history isn't exactly on Anderson's side, especially when it comes to his size. In the last 10 years, only Kevin Love (2012) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006) have matched Anderson's 6'10" height. Overall, the three-point contest may still be a small man's game.
Still, Anderson has a puncher's chance. Or a "shooter's chance," in this case, I guess.
Odds to Win: 4/1
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Giving Kyrie Irving the second-best odds to win this year's three-point shootout is really just a bet that the 2013 All-Star Weekend will be remembered as the breakout moment for the young Cleveland Cavaliers star.
Irving is slated to participate in this shootout, the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and the big boy All-Star Game. It'll be a busy weekend for Irving, but his legs should be fresh when he stands next to that famous ball rack on Saturday night.
Don't sleep on Irving, whose all-around scoring prowess definitely extends beyond the arc, where he shoots nearly 43 percent. That figure is good for ninth best in the league. And by the way, he's on fire right now.
Irving has hit a ridiculous 69 percent of his threes in a trio of February games.
He's relatively small and has a very smooth, repeatable stroke. Because of all that, Irving has a real shot to win.
Odds to Win: 7/2
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It would be easy enough to make a case for Stephen Curry having the best odds to win this year's shootout by simply relying on the numbers.
At 45 percent, the Golden State Warriors point guard ranks behind only Kyle Korver in three-point percentage this season. And lately, Curry has been positively scorching, knocking down 48 percent and 47 percent of his triples in December and January, respectively.
Numbers aside, Curry's mechanics lend themselves to a truly great performance, too.
His set shot is effortless, the elbow never straying from the target and the wrist deftly flicking the ball with ease. Because of his stroke, Curry should have the easiest time of anyone getting shots off quickly without losing good form.
The percentages and finer mechanical points are all great, but the real reason Curry stands to win this thing is because he's pissed off.
Snubbed for the All-Star Game despite a terrific season as the leader of the NBA's most surprising team, Curry probably feels like he belongs in Houston for the main event.
Look for him to take out his frustration by scorching the nets and winning the 2013 Three-Point Contest.
Odds to Win: 5/2