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. Continue Reading


Free Agency Profiles: Dwyane Wade

Now that the draft has passed, it is time to focus on attention to the event that NBA fans have been anticipating for literally years. On Saving the Skyhook, I’ll do a review a day of each of the major players who figure to command the most attention come July 1 — in no particular order. Today features Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

April 12, 2010: Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talking things over with Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) while time is called during the NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Heat beat the 76ers, 107-105.

Source: Yardbarker.com

Well, the negotiating period for free agency is just hours away now, and the tension is palpable. I know I didn’t get to as many of the premiere free agents as I would have liked, but as I only have one night left, I figured I’d write about Dwyane Wade. LeBron has gotten enough free-agency coverage, so I’m sure most of you know his deal already anyway.

On the basketball court, Dwyane Wade is a man’s man. On the offensive side of the ball, he’s an absolute god among men, combining incredible scoring prowess with plus passing and world-class intangible value.

In terms of his scoring, Wade is adept both around the hoop and also at range. It’s very hard to stop him driving to the rim, as he’s among the league’s best at making effective shot adjustments and finishing despite contact. His ability to absorb the hit from defenders and finish garnered him .96 and-one conversions per game, ranking him third in the league. Wade was also fourth in the league in free throws attempted, so his aggressive style gains him a lot of easy points from the stripe.

But aside from his dominance in the paint, Wade is also an accomplished jump shooter. While he doesn’t hit the three like Ray Allen, he makes shots from long two-point range and beyond with regularity. His threat as a shooter encourages defenders to guard him tightly, allowing Wade to sneak by for a drive to the basket. Moreover, his pump fakes are very effective, and he continually draws defenders in the air and takes the contact to shoot free throws.

Wade is also an incredible leader on the floor. He’s never afraid to take the last shot, and he’ll hit thrilling buzzer-beaters at least a handful of times every year. He has also taken the Miami Heat team under his wing, and he has shown great maturity and leadership despite his team’s largely mediocre performance of late. Wade is a model NBA citizen.

On defense, Wade pairs awe-inspiring athleticism and great quickness, which make him a fantastic container. He’s always a threat to pick up a steal off the dribble or the pass, and he, too, has grown fond of that chasedown block that LeBron has made famous. Heck, he’ll even block a seven footer off a flat-footed jump every once in awhile, too. Just ask Brook Lopez.

In terms of negatives on the court, Wade doesn’t really have any. If you want to be picky, he could shoot a better percentage on his jumpers, but considering his scoring output, that’s a minor problem.

The only problem teams have with Wade in free agency is his propensity to get injured. His reckless attacks to the basket expose him to a lot of hard hits, and he bears the brunt of them with injuries all over his body. Teams have to be careful, because signing a guy like Wade and then having him miss large chunks of time because of nagging injuries could be devastating to the club. Regardless, Wade deserves, and will get, a maximum-salary contract this July. He has proven time and time again he can be the first option for any team in this league, and he’ll throw in great sportsmanship and leadership along the way.


Rajon Rondo’s inconsistency

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (L) celebrates a basket with Rajon Rondo (2nd L) during play against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts June 8, 2010.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Source: Yardbarker.com

The Boston Celtics now improbably lead the 2010 NBA Finals 3-2 over their perpetual rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. They can attribute their series lead primarily to a tenacious defensive effort, an energetic bench that features Shrek and Donkey, and to a lesser degree, the generally aging starting lineup.

In the various games, Boston has welcomed outstanding efforts from Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and, of course, Rajon Rondo.

Rondo has been a true magician for this team, bobbing in weaving in between opposing seven footers, making crisp pick-and-roll and alley-oop passes, and providing the pesky defense we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the Kentucky alumnus.

One of the most important parts of Rondo’s game is his ability to run the break. It seems like in every game of the series, right out of the gate Rondo is charging down the floor in transition. He snags the long rebound, sprints down the floor, and finds one of his teammates for the easy layup or dunk.

But he makes it look much prettier than it is sometimes. On occassion, he’ll come charging down the floor and try to get too creative — he’ll thread a pass between defenders that has no chance, applying too much english, thereby making Ray Allen reach for the ball and miss catching in clearly; there goes the space for an open jumper.

This hasn’t happened just once. He has been a repeat offender over the course of the five games. In fact, in Sunday’s Game 5, Rondo had only eight assists but seven turnovers, most of which came on the break.

This poor decision making on the fast break shows two things about Rondo: first, that he’s trying to take his game to the next level by making more dangerous passes and (2) that he’s still young — he doesn’t yet have the discipline or the recognition to know when to hold off on that pass. In the coming years, that will come for Rondo.

Overall, it’s a good sign that he’s making this development because it looks an awful lot like what Steve Nash does. And Nash isn’t exactly careful with the ball, but he minimizes his mistakes while still taking risks. Clearly, Rondo is trying to imitate the master. And should he take the next step, he’s going to be very dangerous.

With the series’ shifting back to Los Angeles for the final two contests, Rondo needs to be careful. The Celtics’ winning is certainly no sure thing. And seven turnovers on fast breaks can be extremely catastrophic, considering the high field-goal percentage of transition attempts.

Rondo needs to contain his anxiousness and not blow those opportunities for his team. He needs to take his time and decide whether or not it is best to let go of that pass. If he can manage, he’ll have his second championship in only three years starting in the league.

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