Out of all the All-Star contests, I’d venture that the three point shooting contest is the one with the most competition. In the All-Star game, you are hoping that maybe they’ll try in the fourth quarter - and it’s just inherently hard for me to get excited about professional NBA players dribbling and passing a ball through a glorified tire. The dunk contest is too subjective to be meaningful - Blake jumping over the hood of the sponsor’s car to “win” was some of the corniest theater I’ve ever seen.
But the three point contest is a measured, stand-alone event where the greatest shooters in the league (minus one Wardell Curry). No arbitrary judgement of whose shot looked the coolest, it’s just simple math of who can make the most buckets.
How to watch
- When: Saturday, Feb. 17
- Time: 5 p.m. PT
- TV: TNT
- Online: TNT
The agenda for the evening
Sorry, I looked and couldn’t find the specific time slot for each event - looks like you’ll have to tune in at 5 and take the whole night’s programming in! While Klay is the only the representative from Warriors participating in the fun tonight, it looks like the NBA went out of their way to select a variety of player types to keep every event interesting.
First up, the Skill Challenge
Personally, I want the NBA to step up their game here a little bit. Why not have the players dribble over obstacles (like a staircase), or through an actual maze? Instead we get treated to the drama of watching the best players in the world trying not to dribble it off their foot as they jog through various vanilla activities like dribbling (yes really) through a slalom, passing through a tire, making a layup, and then a three point shot to end it.
Maybe I’m too jaded, but seriously, look at the “course” (courtesy of NBA.com). Woopty do. I’m not asking for them to try and run through a loop-de-loop or anything, but can we challenge them a bit more?
However, the NBA is not without a sense of humor, replacing the injured Kristaps Porzingas with the agile(?!) Andre Drummond! If you’re a risk-taker looking to place a bet, Drummond’s odds are pretty astronomical.
Here are the participants, and odds of winning as per ESPN:
Jamal Murray +350
Lou Williams +350
Al Horford +500
Spencer Dinwiddie +550
Lauri Markkanen +600
Buddy Hield +600
Joel Embiid +700
Andre Drummond +1200
Next up, the three-point contest
The middle child of the night, the three-point contest will offer us the only glimpse of a Warrior participant we will get on the evening, as Klay Thompson seeks to reclaim his crown and earn his second trophy in this event.
To refresh your memory, After Curry won it in 2015 and then retired from the contest, Thompson took the honor in 2016, but was unable to hold off Eric Gordon last year. Gordon and Thompson are both back this year, but the odds-makers (and pretty much everyone with a soul) favor Klay.
The format is relatively unchanged from previous years: each player has one minute to shoot as many of the balls as he can. Generally, the players have no problem shooting through the 25 balls. The balls are arranged in racks - four of the five have four balls (worth one point) and one two-point “money” ball. The fifth rack consists entirely of money balls and can be placed at any of the five shooting locations as per player preference.
All eight participants will shoot in Round 1, then Round two will take the top three and decide the champion based on the results (in case of a tie, it would go into a tie-breaker round). As it should be, Klay Thompson is the odds favorite:
Klay Thompson +180
Eric Gordon +450
Wayne Ellington +550
Paul George +600
Devin Booker +600
Bradley Beal +800
Kyle Lowry +1000
Tobias Harris +1200
The grande finale: The Dunk contest
The dunk contest is the weirdest of the Saturday events because the scoring is so wonky. The NBA is smartly backing away the weird “composite score” thing where they combined fan votes with courtside judges. Now we are back to the pure scoring, with 5 judges able to award zero through ten points for each dunk.
In round one, each player will get two dunk “attempts” - as in the past, note that they are allowed a little bit of wiggle room for what constitutes an attempt.
The two winners from round one will move on to the final stage, where they will again be judged based on the combined score of two attempts.
Dennis Smith Jr., DAL-105
Victor Oladipo, IND +150
Larry Nance Jr., CLE +225
Donovan Mitchell, UTA +350
Did you know we have an embedded reporter out at the All Star festivities? Be sure to check out Brady Kopfler’s story about Friday night’s All Star events, from his first hand experience.