The slam dunk contest may generate the hype, but it is quite often the three-point shooting contest that steals the hearts of fans. Watching some of these guys go atomic from the three-point line can be a huge treat in its own right, and the entire field features guys that can get red hot and put up great numbers in this event.
It has its own peculiarities: It is quite different from a game to pull five balls off a rack and launch a series of jumpers, and fatigue always plays a role.
Analyzing a guy’s shooting style is just as fruitful as analyzing his percentages, due to the sheer nature of this event.
Those who jump a lot on their shot tend not to fare as well as the true set shooters, and the more effortless the shot, the better, in an event where fatigue almost always plays a role. Shooting may seem effortless when these guys do it, but launching 25 jumpers in 90 seconds is exhausting no matter who you are, and even big minutes guys like Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker are sure to find themselves gasping should they reach the Finals. Who will be the last one left standing? Who will catch flames and blow this field away? Let’s look at the favorites and the best value picks.
Klay Thompson (+120)
Klay Thompson is the field favorite, and a a guy who has once scored 37-points in a single quarter, it is quite easy to understand why. Thompson is on the league’s premier team, and he is the name that people will gravitate to in this event, but he also isn’t “chalk” per se. Thompson has some tough competition in this event, and we already know that one cold streak in this event can utterly destroy the chances of taking down the event.
Given that Thompson has flown under the radar playing with three stars in Golden State, this could be a chance to garner some limelight for himself, but he could just as easily go ice cold as we watch someone like field-longshots Kemba Walker or Wes Matthews take the trophy. That said? Thompson is attractive even at +120 odds, because he does have an effortless shot (relatively speaking) and even more so due to his lightning-quick release. It seems doubtful Thompson is one of those guys who struggles to reach the final rack in time. He can get them off quick.
That said? Thompson is attractive even at +120 odds, because he does have an effortless shot (relatively speaking) and even more so due to his lightning-quick release. It seems doubtful Thompson is one of those guys who struggles to reach the final rack in time. He can get them off quick.
Kyrie Irving (+400)
Kyrie Irving makes an attractive pick for some reasons, but the least of those is the fact that he tends to shoot best off the dribble and “game threes” seem like more of a specialty than an event where he is simply required to be red-hot over a full minute-plus. While he is fairly deserving of having the second-best odds at taking it, he is going against a field that features several guys that shoot the ball in a style more patterned for this event. We’re steering clear.
CJ McCollum (+500)
CJ McCollum’s set shot absolutely is perfect for this event. He is the dark horse that we like tonight, given he barely creates any space between his sneakers in the floor while launching up his effective, high-arcing rainbow triple. McCollum has had a breakout season in Portland, and is our second-favorite behind Thompson. At +500, there is some good value too.
The rest of the field:
Kyle Lowry (+900)
Kyle Lowry is a fine all-around player and good shooter, but not a great one. It is tougher to imagine him stealing this event, but again: Anyone can get red hot on a night and this is the toughest event to bet of the weekend.
Eric Gordon (+900)
Eric Gordon leads the NBA in threes made, and his game is basically all three point shooting. Take that for what it is worth.
Nick Young (+900)
Nick Young can flat out throw flames at times, but he can also go icy-cold. He’s a strange value pick, but makes as much sense as Gordon.
Kemba Walker (+1400)
Kemba Walker has been cold recently and is not really an elite shooter. He’s a very good shooter, but he is the longshot he is here for good reason.
Wes Matthews (+1400)
Wes Matthews, like Walker, is not really an elite shooter. A “three and D” guy, he certainly could get hot, but there are more attractive options, even with +1400 seeming like a teasing value pick on him.