A competitive field will battle to determine the best shooter in the NBA in the Three-Point Contest during All-Star weekend.
Included in this year's event are the two most recent winners of the contest, a number of the league's rising stars and a player who is considered by some to be one of the best shooters of all time.
As usual, the contest will feature five racks, and the shooter will get one point for a regular ball and two points for a money ball. However, this year features a twist, as there will be an entire "money rack" filled with five balls that are worth two points each.
The good news is the competitors can put this extra rack wherever they want, so a bit of strategy is involved as well.
A new format and a great field should make this year's contest one of the best ever.
When: Saturday, Feb. 15
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET (Third Event)
|Arron Afflalo||Orlando Magic (East)||5-1|
|Bradley Beal||Washington Wizards (East)||11-2|
|Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers (East)||5-1|
|Joe Johnson||Brooklyn Nets (East)||10-1|
|Marco Belinelli||San Antonio Spurs (West)||8-1|
|Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors (West)||9-4|
|Damian Lillard||Portland Trail Blazers (West)||6-1|
|Kevin Love||Minnesota Timberwolves (West)||5-1|
Odds courtesy of Odds Shark
Stars to Watch
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Last year's winner felt that one victory was not enough, so he is coming back for a second. Then again, even another title will not satisfy his goal.
He told Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer:
There's only been a few back-to-back champs. My goal is to accomplish what Larry Bird did, which was three years in a row. He was the main reason I wore my warm-up last year. I'm hoping 'the Legend' was blessing me and looking on. If they ask me to come back, I'm definitely coming back.
As long as he keeps raining threes, the league will want him back to defend his title.
The only problem is that Irving is in the midst of his worst shooting season from behind the arc, as his percentage has dropped to just 36.9 percent this year. However, it will be easier outside of a game atmosphere for him to light up the scoreboard.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
You do not often see big men in this competition, especially those who are second in the NBA in rebounding and fourth in scoring. However, Kevin Love is a different type of forward who can shoot as well as any guard.
He is so good that he can hit three-pointers while wearing a blindfold:
He won the contest in 2012 over Kevin Durant and is looking to take home the title once again before starting in the All-Star Game on Sunday.
With his 37 percent shooting percentage from deep, he has as good a chance as anyone of winning his second crown.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
While many have complained about a lack of star power in the Slam Dunk Contest in the past, there was little trouble filling this competition with the best in the league. Five All-Stars are competing in the Three-Point Contest, and all of them will be top challengers.
However, focus might be an issue for Lillard, who is so excited about All-Star weekend that he will participate in five events. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders joked he would be doing even more:
The Trail Blazers star will be in the Rising Stars Challenge, the Skills Competition, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest before competing in his first All-Star Game on Sunday. That is quite a busy weekend compared to many who will just be sitting at home and watching.
Of course, it is not his style to save himself for later. He will likely go just as hard in each event, making him a top contender in all of them.
After making more than 40 percent of his shots from deep this year, he will surprise people with a shooting display in this one.
Predicted Winner: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry is actually shooting a career-low 41.5 percent from three-point range this season, but that is only because he receives plenty of attention from opposing defenses. When left open, the point guard never seems to miss.
This has led some great shooters to praise Curry's efforts on the court:
Steve Kerr on Steph Curry: "He's the best shooter I think I've ever seen."— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) January 21, 2014
There will be no hands in his face during this competition, which should allow Curry to showcase his beautiful, consistent shot. Even with a number of tough opponents, it would be surprising to see anyone else raise the trophy at the end of the day.
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