Picking 3-point shooters

February, 8, 2011
2/08/11
4:31
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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A year ago, Anthony Morrow was crestfallen that he was not invited to the 3-point contest. At the time of All-Star Weekend, he had made 45 percent of his 3-point attempts, which gave him a better record than just about everybody who had been invited to the contest.

And it was worth noting then that the NBA had invited shooters ranked fifth (Paul Pierce), ninth (Stephen Curry), 10th (Channing Frye), 12th (Chauncey Billups), 23rd (Danilo Gallinari), and entirely off the leaderboard (defending champ Daequan Cook) by 3-point field goal percentage.

I asked the league what system they were using to arrive at that list of invitees, and they explained that they looked at the percentage of makes, but then weeded out all the players who had not attempted a very high number of shots.

This is questionable.

But fair enough: If you looked at their list of invitees from last year, you could see how that worked.

Morrow, basically, would have to shoot more to make the cutoff.

So, with that system in mind, let's look at this year's list of invitees.
  • Ray Allen made 46 percent (third best percentage in the league) of 249 attempts
  • Kevin Durant made 35 percent (94th) of 245 attempts
  • Daniel Gibson made 44 percent (10th) of 180 attempts
  • James Jones made 43 percent (14th) of 182 attempts
  • Paul Pierce made 40 percent (31st) of 182 attempts and is the defending champ
  • Dorell Wright made 41 percent (24th) of 303 attempts

So, unsexy though the 94th, 31st and 24th most accurate shooters may be, we at least understand how they got invited, right? These are the guys, the NBA told us last year, who shoot it every darned night. Who know the shot. Who are not just dating the 3, but have long since married it.

Looks like the league made the cutoff at around 180 attempts. If you didn't shoot that many, you weren't making it.

Only ...

Know who shoots the most 3s in the NBA this year? Jason Richardson, who has made 40 percent of his 305 3-pointers.

Somewhere he's tossing his tear-streaked stat sheet into a mud puddle and screaming "Kevin Durant?"

Durant shot far less, and didn't hit at nearly the same rate.

Joining Richardson at that mud puddle:
  • Arron Afflalo has made 45 percent of his 185 3s.
  • Chauncey Billups has made 44 percent of 216 3s.
  • Mike Bibby made 44 percent of his 228 attempts.
  • Kevin Martin has made 41 percent of his 282 3s.
  • Wesley Matthews has shot 246 3s and made 39 percent of them.
  • Danny Granger is the maker of 38 percent of 260 3s.
  • Manu Ginobili has made 36 percent of his 303 3s.

Not to mention, why cut it off at 180 attempts anyway? Some lower-volume shooters are killing it. Shawne Williams has made 51 percent of his 87 3s, Matt Bonner has made half of his 119 attempts. Chris Paul has made 45 percent of his 124 attempts. Kevin Love is just outside the 180-shot cutoff, at 159, but has made a blistering 43 percent.

So, what does that tell us about the NBA's current system? A few things:
  • It's not scientific.
  • It helps to be Kevin Durant.
  • Shooting often and staying uninjured are both incredibly important.
  • Making 3s -- the point of the contest -- is less important.
  • There are non-obvious factors at play. (Maybe people like Jason Richardson and Arron Afflalo have turned down invites.) I'll try to find out more.

In the meantime, Ray Allen is my pick to win the thing.

Henry Abbott | email

TrueHoop, NBA

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