Will it be luck or skill that is the key to the 2007 Haier Shooting Stars competition?

Last year, Team San Antonio took home the crown and set a Shooting Stars record because Tony Parker hit the first half-court shot they took. While I'm sure it's a shot Tony has practiced quite a bit, I'm going to say that it was a bit lucky to knock down the first one in the competition and I'm guessing that it won't happen again this year.

So, when breaking down this year's field, we need to take a close look at the shooting skills of the competitors.

First, lets review where the six shots are taken from. The first shot (usually taken by the WNBA player) is a simple 10-foot bank shot from the right side. The ladies should have no problem with this one, but if anyone has the advantage, it's probably Candice Dupree, because she works in the low post more than the others.

The second shot (usually taken by the legend, but sometimes by the NBA star) is from the left elbow. That's Bill Laimbeer territory. The third shot is an NBA three from the top of the circle, a spot that Chauncey Billups loves. Fourth is a baseline jumper that Swin Cash or Kendra Wecker should handle well. Next is a three from the left wing, one that Scottie Pippen is probably most comfortable with among the legends. Finally, the half-court shot, which as always, could make up for any struggles with the previous shots, or erase any success you've had.

Now, let's take a look at the competitors' shooting percentage for this season, starting with the NBA stars:

PLAYER TEAM FG PCT.
Ben Gordon CHI .450
Chauncey Billups DET .435
Lamar Odom LAL .448
Tony Parker SAS .525

So, it looks like San Antonio has the advantage here. Next, lets look at the WNBA stars and their shooting percentage from last season:

PLAYER TEAM FG PCT.
Candice Dupree CHI .457
Swin Cash DET .384
Temeka Johnson LAS .402
Kendra Wecker SAS .350

Advantage: Chicago. On to the legends. We'll take a look at career numbers here:

PLAYER TEAM FG PCT.
Scottie Pippen CHI .472
Bill Laimbeer DET .498
Michael Cooper LAL .469
George Gervin SAS .511

San Antonio again. Finally, we'll average the three shooting percentages for each team. If we did cumulative percentages, the amount of shots the legends took would skew the numbers.

TEAM AVG. FG PCT.
Chicago .460
Detroit .439
Los Angeles .440
San Antonio .462

There you have it. The numbers tell us that Chicago is the favorite.

Of course, how sharp the legends are is the big variable. Los Angeles might have the advantage here, because Michael Cooper is the coach of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, and I'm sure he gets in a few shots after practice when he can. Detroit should also be OK, as Bill Laimbeer has been coaching and practicing with the Shock for the last five years.

Tune in Saturday night to see how the numbers hold up.