The 2011 NBA Three-Point Shootout Contestants: An Examination

The participants for the 2011 NBA Three-Point Shootout have been named, and as usual, the contest is pretty loaded with long distance shooters. You’ve got one of the best pure shooters to ever play the game in Ray Allen. You’ve got the defending champion in Paul Pierce. And you’ve got the dynamite scorer in Kevin Durant.

There is just great depth to this year’s event, so let’s take a look at the participants:

Ray Allen

It starts with this man. There’s a reason why he’s about to become the best three point shooter in NBA history. When we think about the recent championship teams for the Celtics, Allen might in fact be the fourth name you think of behind Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo in terms of determining the most valuable players on that team.

But we all know that having an outside threat is vital to winning titles in this league, and Allen has been that piece of the puzzle in Boston. You know his resume, so there’s no need to even talk about his stats this season. It doesn’t matter. He’s as pure as it gets from behind the line, and on any given night, he could put up crazy three point totals.

The release (I could watch this jumpshot all day):

Kevin Durant

Never underestimate a true scorer. Durant might not be the first name that jumps to mind when you think about three point shooting, but like I said, the man can score anyway he wants to. He’s shooting around 35% from downtown this season, which isn’t a flashy number or anything like that. But again, he’s one of the best overall players in the league and loves to perform on a big stage.

However, if you’re looking at the odds, perhaps Durant should be considered a longshot. He doesn’t have that quick trigger that you look for in this kind of competition. Then again, a lot of guys in the past haven’t either. And he doesn’t have the percentages that these other contestants do, but again, when we’re talking about a guy who has led the league in scoring, the competitiveness will take over, and anything can happen.

The release:

Daniel Gibson

I can honestly say that I am glad Daniel Gibson is in this competition (you can feel a Cavs joke coming, can’t you?). Because ya know, the Cavs need… know what, let’s just not go there. Gibson is a pretty good shooter though, and along with Anthony Parker, has been providing this team with a consistent outside shot for the last few years.

On the one hand, we could say that given the Cavs’ success this season, Gibson has no chance. But on the other hand, we could say that Gibson winning the competition could turn the Cavs’ season around. OK, the latter probably isn’t likely unless Carmelo Anthony demands a trade to Cleveland, but let’s just keep it simple and say that Gibson could possibly win this contest.

The release:

James Jones

Jones might have one of the best jobs in the NBA. Stand outside the three point line and just shoot when All-World player number one,LeBron James, or All-World player number two, Dwyane Wade decide not to shoot. Don’t worry about dribbling or doing much of anything else on the offensive end of the floor. Just shoot.

His season high in a game is six threes, and considering that he doesn’t play the minutes consistently that these other guys do, that’s pretty good. Again, his primary job is to shoot three pointers. And what’s the name of this contest again? Exactly.

The release:

Paul Pierce

We think of Pierce as more of a clutch scorer than a hardcore three point shooter. He doesn’t attempt that many because he doesn’t have to. He finds other ways to score. So we can relate him to Durant in that aspect, in that they both aren’t exactly sharpshooters from long range.

But in case you forgot, I’ll give you one guess as to who the defending three point shootout champion is. That’s right, this man won it in 2010, and is certainly looking to repeat. So we might have to declare him the favorite before the competition even begins. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that All-Star weekend is in Los Angeles either. He tends to play well in his home state.

The release:

Dorell Wright

Wright is probably thought of as the third best shooter on his team by the casual NBA fan. The Warriors have Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, who are both great scorers and can shoot the trey very well. But Wright’s specialty is the three, and when he gets going, look the hell out.

Case in point, his game earlier this season against Miami. Wright finished with 30 points, hit six from downtown (was extremely hot in the first half before the Warriors went ice cold), and just had that confidence to him that we see in great shooters. There’s also the game where he shot 9 of 12 from behind the arc in a win over Minnesota. Point is, the dude deserves to be in this contest even though he isn’t a household name. He’s certainly capable of winning this thing.

The release:

A few odd and end notes:

Ranking by season percentages: 1. Ray Allen (46%), 2. Daniel Gibson (44%), 3. James Jones (43%), 4. Dorell Wright (41%), 5. Paul Pierce (40%), 6. Kevin Durant (35%)

Ranking by three-pointers made this season: 1. Dorell Wright (124), 2. Ray Allen (115), 3. James Jones (93), 4. Kevin Durant (87), 5. Daniel Gibson (79), 6. Paul Pierce (73)

My ranking by release: 1. Ray Allen, 2. Daniel Gibson, 3. Paul Pierce, 4. James Jones, 5. Kevin Durant, 6. Dorell Wright

What do these numbers and rankings mean? In the grand scheme of things, not much at all. But it’s fun to take a look at some aspects that could give us some type of clue as to who has the best chance to win.

But now it’s time to make a prediction.

Predicting this contest is almost impossible. We know that when left wide open, some of the guys could make jumper after jumper after jumper. But the time limit is what makes it tricky, and it’s certainly not as easy as just standing there shooting one shot right after the other.

But hey, I’ll take a shot at it:

First 3 Eliminated

6. Kevin Durant
5. Daniel Gibson
4. Dorell Wright

3rd Place

3. Paul Pierce

2nd Place

2. James Jones

The Winner

1. Ray Allen

I just can’t pick anyone else. He’s one of the best shooters to ever step on the court, and he’ll pick up his second NBA Three-Point Shootout crown on February 19.

Who you got in this year’s competition?

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