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Who has best chance to win 3-Point Contest?

2/14/2015

The 3-point line was first utilized in the NBA in the 1979-80 season, when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were rookies. Only 3 percent of shot attempts came from long distance that season.

Since then, the game has evolved to the point that about one out of every four shots is a 3-pointer. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that about 23 percent of all points and 27 percent of all field goal attempts have come from beyond the arc this season; both marks are on pace to set NBA records.

With all that in mind, it's fitting that this year’s 3-Point Contest at All-Star Weekend has an incredibly stacked field. The contestants have a collective 3-point percentage of 42.2 percent on nearly seven 3-point attempts per 36 minutes this season.

In order to determine the favorite in this group, we have to look beyond their 3-point percentage alone, because all 3-point attempts are not equal.

2015 3-Point Contest Projections

Stephen Curry, for example, is a master of the fast-break pull-up 3. James Harden often does it on his own, too; only half of his 3-pointers are assisted, while 96 percent of Kyle Korver’s made 3-pointers are assisted.

In this case, we estimated each player’s expected shooting percentage in the contest based on their catch-and-shoot success rate on 3-pointers (which is the most similar situational data we have) and how players' shooting accuracy increases based on historical performances in the 3-point contest.

With the estimated accuracy, we calculated each shooter’s probability of winning the contest based on 10,000 simulations.

Based on this analysis, Korver has by far the best chance to win the contest at 28 percent, with Kyrie Irving a distant second at 16 percent.

Meanwhile, Curry and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson tied for third, and last year’s winner, Marco Belinelli, has the lowest odds of winning at 4 percent.