It’s All-Star weekend, and while the game itself won’t be until Sunday, we all know that the real main event is All-Star Saturday Night. The Mavericks will be represented this year in the form of Wesley Matthews competing in the JBL Three-Point Contest. Wes is the only Maverick competing in any event this weekend.
Joining Wes will be seven other contestants:
- Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
- C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
- Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers
- Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
- Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors (reigning champ)
The Warriors’ Klay Thompson is the clear favorite, having beaten teammate Stephen Curry last year. His robotic stroke and efficient release make it obvious why he’s a past champion and a strong contender to repeat.
Eric Gordon is my pick to challenge Thompson in the finals. He’s currently fourth in the NBA in total three-pointers made behind only Steph Curry, James Harden and fellow three-point shootout competitor Kyle Lowry. Gordon is shooting a respectable 38.5 percent from deep. He is another guy with a smooth stroke and the ability to get a lot of shots up quickly.
Kyle Lowry is just ahead of Gordon in three-pointers made, having drilled 185 threes on 41.7 percent shooting. Smaller guards usually have a tougher time in the three-point shootout, especially guards like Lowry who have a lot of lift in their shot, because it generally takes them longer to get off each shot and get their feet set for the next. Lowry doesn’t have a slow release by any means but it will be interesting to see if he can compete with bigger guards who get their shots off quicker. Despite all that, Lowry is my dark horse candidate to make the finals and upset either Thompson or Gordon.
The long shots
While we are all rooting for Wes, he’s a little of a longer shot compared to the guys above. Wes’s chances are fairly good if he can settle into a nice rhythm and hit some shots early. His quick release and relatively low elevation let him get off shots quickly, which helps a lot in this contest. But we all know about his competitive fire, which could make him deadly on the money balls. He finished fourth in the 2015 three-point competition, so he’ll probably be out to better that performance if not steal the victory.
Nick Young and C.J. McCollum are also less likely to take the crown. Young especially is a shooter that will need to heat up a little to make any noise. Neither Young nor McCollum have the ideal shooting stroke for a three-point contest, being streaky shooters who usually have more success off the bounce.
There’s always a chance Kyrie Irving could go into flamethrower mode, but he would probably perform better if he was allowed to chain together 3 or 4 dribble moves and break a set of ankles before each shot. Similar to Young and McCollum, I think Kyrie is a better shooter on the move.
Kemba Walker seems to be the odd man out and is will probably be the first contestant eliminated. While he is definitely a good shooter, he is probably the least pure shooter in this lineup.
All-Star Saturday Night begins at 7:00 p.m. Central with the Skills competition. You can catch it on TNT.