Downtown Bombers

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By the time this paper hits the newsstands, the NBA 2015 Foot Locker Three Point Shout-Out scheduled on Saturday, Feb. 14, (Sunday morning here in the Philippines) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York  is just around four hours from happening. By the time it hits some of your hands, the event would have been over and the winner is already known. But looking at the very formidable eight-man field, I am sure replays would be demandable for this one because each rainbow bomber has the credential to a rightful claim of this year’s NBA Three Point King.

I consider this event the main event of the Saturday line-up this year, ahead of the Sprite Slam Dunk competitions. Even if you have watched the event live, a replay should still be as enjoyable as the live feed. If you are not aware who are taking part of this contest stacked with cream of the crop three-point shooters, let me present them to you. They are Atlanta Hawk Kyle Korver, Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Wesley Matthews, the Los Angeles Clippers’ J.J. Redick, and defending champion Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs.

Now, this roster of combatants is very deep, considered by many as the deepest roster ever to compete in the event. These cagers are the premier three point specialists this year and each one could be considered the favorite. Just how deep the roster is? Look at the evidence provided by the predictions made by reputable pundits. Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver has Klay Thompson winning while co-league Rob Mahoney picked Wesley Mathews. Three writers of Sports Unbiased predicted different names to prevail in a collaborative article: Curry, Korver, and Belinelli. InsideHoops.com named Belinelli, Curry, Korver, Redick and Thompson in no particular order as their favorites and further stating that it’s pointless to predict a winner as anybody can take it. Zach Harper of CBS  Sports picks Korver. Four NBATV Canada Hangout anchors had 2 Korvers, a Curry and a Thompson selection. Inside the NBA’ s Shaquille O’neal, Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber, and Kenny Smith gave their top 3. O’neal and Johnson had the Splash Brothers and Korver, Webber predicted Harden, Korver and Thompson, while Smith had Reddick, Thompson and Korver. Nobody stands out and it is just as hard to forecast who would bring home the crown.

Here is how they performed this year and in their career beyond the arc:

  1. Marco Belinelli – He won the event last year and is defending his crown. He is shooting 38.1% from downtown converting 45 of 118 attempts. He is shooting 39.4% in his career. He was, however, out in 19 of the 53 games of the Spurs and his shooting is down from last year’s mark of 43%. With the quality of competitors he has this year, he will be hard-pressed to retain the title. He is, however, still the defending champion and should not be taken lightly as he made 619 rainbow shots in 1,570 attempts for a 39.4% shooting accuracy from downtown.
  2. Stephen Curry – He is the fastest player to convert 1,000 treys in his career having achieved it in his 369th game. He is currently hitting 39.9% of his attempts from three, converting 161 of 404. His 161 is tied with two others who will be mentioned later, for most in this season. He hit 8 of 11 last November 25, 2014 against Miami, 7 of 10 against the same Heat last January 14, and 10 of 14 against the Mavericks on February 4 where he scored 51 points. His ten treys against Dallas made him the second man in NBA history to have multiple games of double digit three point conversions, having already recorded his first on February 27, 2013 against the Knicks, a 11 of 13 makes at the Madison Square Garden. He is shooting 43.3% for his career making 1,066 of 2,462 attempts in just under six seasons.
  3. James Harden – He is more known as a scorer than a three point shooter making him among the leaders in attempts beyond the arc. He went 7 of 12 treys last November 24 against the Knicks, 8 of 11 against Charlotte last New Year’s eve, and 7 of 12 against the Pacers last January 19. He is making 38.3% of his long range shots this season, converting 140 of his 366 attempts. For his career, he made 816 of 2,199 attempts for a 37.1% shooting clip. He is the leading scorer of this batch averaging 27.4 points per game and has a very good conversion rate from three point territory despite the presence of defenders in his face.
  4. Kyrie Irving – He won the 2013 version of this contest. On January 15 of this year, he converted 11 of 14 attempts against the Portland Trailblazers. He drilled 112 of 270 three point attempts for a 41.5% shooting, one of the four contestants averaging above 40% so far this season. He is 38.8% for his career, converting 417 of 1,076 attempts. He is on pace to eclipse his personal season highs of 344 attempts, 123 makes and 39.9% shooting clip.
  5. Kyle Korver – He holds the NBA record for three-point percentage in a single season, knocking 59 of 110 good for 53.6% from the arc during his 2009-10 season with the Utah Jazz. He is on the verge of becoming the first man in NBA history to finish a season making at least 50% of his field goal attempts, 50% of his three points shot attempts and 90% of his free throw attempts with enough attempts and conversions to qualify for the leader board of each category (West All Stars coach Steve Kerr did the trick during the 1995-96 season with Chicago but do not have enough attempts to qualify for the leader board). He is the epitome of consistent shooting this year as evidenced by his accuracy among which are his 7 of 9 against the Bulls last January 17 and a pair of 6 of 7’s against Toronto and Boston. He is currently making 51.2% of his field goals, an even better 52.3% of his rainbow shoots and 91.1% of his free throw attempts. He was just added to the all-star list, the first time of his career. He is tied for the most threes made, 161 in just 308 attempts. He is obviously one of the four participants converting at least 40% and the only one above 50% this season. For his career, he sank 1,669 of his 3,857 tries for an impressive 43.3% clip. His 1,669 total is good for 15th in the all-time list, just two behind Joe Johnson who is at 14th. He should take over the position in no time.
  6. Wesley Matthews – He is still mistaken by some Ginebra San Miguel fans as the famous former Best Import who played for the Gins that went to the finals, forgetting that that was way back in 1991. That was actually Wes Sr. and the Wesley competing in this shoot out is his son, Wesley Jr. He is the Trailblazer’s all-time career leader in threes made, a feat he achieved just this 25th of January, 2015. He is tied with Curry and Korver for most treys this season at 161. He attempted the most amongst the eight competitors, a total of 405 tries for a 39.8% shooting clip. In his career, he is a 39.5% three point shooter, already making 877 treys in 2,221 tries, a franchise leading record that should keep on growing.
  7. JJ Reddick – He owns the third highest conversion rate at 43.6% this season and one of the four participants averaging above 40%. He converted 119 treys in 273 attempts. For his career, he averages 39.6% from downtown, nailing 789 threes in 1,990 tries. He is the “Ray Allen” of the Clippers in comparison to Doc Rivers’ 2008 Boston Celtics team.
  8. Klay Thompson – He is the proud owner of the NBA History record of the biggest scoring quarter where he dropped 37 points during the third in their game against the Sacramento Kings last January 25, 2015. He was 11 for 11 that quarter which includes nine treys. He eventually dropped a career-high 52 points with 11 for 15 three point shots that night. He is the remaining of the four with over 40% three point shooting clip, converting a total of 155 treys in 352 tries. His 155 is the second highest this season. In his career, he has already 700 makes in just his fourth year. He missed 981 shots for a 41.6% shooting accuracy.

These guys are dropping three point shooting records this season and are super hot beyond the rainbow line. They will compete in a two-round competition with five shooting locations positioned around the three-point arc. Four of the racks contain four orange balls each worth one point and one multi-colored “money” ball worth two points. The fifth rack will be a special “all money ball” rack, which each participant can place at any of the five shooting locations. Every ball on this rack will be worth two points. The players have one minute to shoot as many as the 25 balls as they can. The three competitors with the highest scores in the first round advance to the championship round.  It is truly difficult to predict a winner and even who goes to the final round. I pick Korver to bag this year’s crown.

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