Many spectators will don the winner of the NBA Three-Point Contest during All-Star Weekend with the unofficial moniker of basketball's best shooter, and with the star-studded field in this year's event, it's hard to argue against that.
Many of the Association's best and most well-known sharpshooters are among the field of eight players vying for that esteemed position, and those best stick out quite distinctly as contenders apart from the rest.
While it's undeniable that each of these shooters is among the best in the NBA, there's a big difference between being a great shooter and a lethal one who can top the other seven standout performers.
Here is a look at the entire field, as well as the top contenders for this year's Three-Point Contest.
|Arron Afflalo||Orlando Magic (East)|
|Bradley Beal||Washington Wizards (East)|
|Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers (East)|
|Joe Johnson||Brooklyn Nets (East)|
|Marco Belinelli||San Antonio Spurs (West)|
|Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors (West)|
|Damian Lillard||Portland Trail Blazers (West)|
|Kevin Love||Minnesota Timberwolves (West)|
There are good shooters. There are great shooters. Then, there's Stephen Curry.
The Golden State Warriors point guard has prided himself on a ridiculously potent outside shot as the main component of his rise to NBA stardom, breaking a league record last year for most three-pointers made in a single season.
His incredible range and quick trigger haven't gone unnoticed among NBA circles. Many are rushing to throw the title of best shooter ever in the 25-year-old's direction, with Kevin Durant being one of them, according to Sports Illustrated:
Kevin Durant: Stephen Curry is the 'best shooter to ever play' http://t.co/0zB7dueJ6f— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 24, 2014
Despite his reputation, Curry is actually shooting a career-worst percentage from downtown, only hitting 41.5 percent of his outside shots. That's actually the worst of his career by a sizable margin, which tells you all you need to know about his consistency since entering the NBA.
Even though his numbers have technically slipped, Curry is still arguably the most talented sniper in the NBA right now and one of the best shooters of all time. With him landing his first All-Star appearance this season, expect Curry to light it up in the Three-Point Contest.
Kevin Love may be a big man, but he can drain the deep ball as well as anyone.
Love has risen to stardom in the NBA since arriving in 2008, as the 25-year-old will be playing in his third All-Star Game and is coming off a high-flying start to one of his best seasons to date.
Who will win?
The Timberwolves star is averaging 25.8 points per game, fourth in the NBA, and 13.2 rebounds, which is good for second in the Association. That all-around game carries over to the three-point line as well.
Love wasn't a big outside shooter early in his NBA career but has developed it quickly into one of his many strong suits. He's shooting 37 percent from the arc this season on 6.2 attempts per game.
The former UCLA standout also has what very few in the field do—a Three-Point Contest championship. He won the event in 2012, and that familiarity could very well lead to a repeat performance in 2014.
It's been a bit of a down year for Kyrie Irving after a sensational season in 2012-13, but he was still able to nab an All-Star spot and a deserving inclusion into the competition he dominated a year ago.
The third-year pro is averaging 21.5 points and 6.2 assists per game for the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, who haven't made the strides that many expected under Irving this season. But nothing has changed about the fact that Irving is one of the league's best shooters.
The former Duke one-and-done jacks up nearly five three-pointers per game with a 36.9 percentage from deep, considerably lower than his success rate in his first two years but still rather efficient.
Irving may not be tearing it up in games this season at the rate that many expected, but considering his ability to win the competition last year and an automatic shot that tends to go in every time he's open on the arc, he's right at the top of the contenders list.