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Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM | February 16, 2006
It just wouldn't be the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout without Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen.

Allen, the 2001 Shootout champion at Washington's MCI Center and widely considered the NBA's best pure shooter, is participating for the fifth time since the year 2000. After sitting out the 2003 and 2004 Shootouts, he decided to return to competition last year.


"Knowing I can win, it's hard to sit back and watch."
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty
"It's tough to watch and know you're one of the best at doing it," explains Allen. "Me sitting on the sidelines, people question, 'Why aren't you shooting?' Being down there and knowing I can win, it's hard to sit back and watch because I said I wanted to sit out. I'm going to give it a shot and try to win the thing."

A year ago, Allen finished fourth, missing the Finals of the Shootout by one point after scoring 13.

"When I sat down, I was thinking 13 is not going to cut it," Allen told the media. "You're leaving it in other people's hands when you score that low."

He also finished fourth in 2002, again one point away from the Finals. Before his 2001 win, Allen finished third in 2000.

Allen will go up against a field that includes last year's winner, New York Knicks swingman Quentin Richardson, and a pair of newcomers in Dallas' Jason Terry and Phoenix's Raja Bell. Here's a look at his competition:

Ray Allen, Seattle SuperSonics


Past Shootouts: 4 - 2000 (3rd), 2001 (1st), 2002 (4th), 2005 (4th)
Average Round: 15.3
High/Low: 20/10
Skinny: Allen's quick release helps him in the Shootout format, but he tends to jump more on his shot than some other competitors, which can lead to fatigue. He was at his best in winning in 2001, putting up rounds of 20 and 19 points, but has averaged just 13.5 in his last two Shootouts.

Raja Bell, Phoenix Suns


Past Shootouts: None
Average Round: N/A
High/Low: N/A
Skinny: At 43.5%, Bell actually has the best 3-point percentage this season of this group (by a hair). His release is similar to Allen's. As a Shootout rookie, it's uncertain how Bell will perform given the format. His practice earlier this week did not go well. "It was a debacle," Bell told the East Valley Tribune. "Not the prettiest thing. I started missing. And the more I missed, the more I got upset and down on myself and the more I started worrying."

Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons


Past Shootouts: 1 - 2004 (6th)
Average Round: 12.0
High/Low: 12/12
Skinny: Nobody questions Billups' ability to shoot from range. He's hitting 43.1% of his 3s after being at 42.6% a year ago. However, his relatively slow, long release is a detriment in this format. Billups finished last two years ago, though his score of 12 was nothing to be ashamed of.

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks


Past Shootouts: 2 - 2001 (3rd), 2000 (2nd)
Average Round: 14.0
High/Low: 18/10
Skinny: Big players traditionally haven't done particularly well in the Shootout; witness former Sonics center Sam Perkins' score of eight and last-place finish in 1997. But Nowitzki is an exception - in the First Round. He's scored 18 and 17 in his to first rounds to make both Finals, but has struggled with the pressure, putting up just 10 and 11 once in the Finals. Oddly, both times Allen has made the Finals, he has competed against Nowitzki.

Quentin Richardson, New York Knicks


Past Shootouts: 2 - 2005 (1st), 2002 (4th)
Average Round: 15.7
High/Low: 19/14
Skinny: Far and away the worst percentage 3-point shooter this season in the group (32.9%), Richardson is still a major threat because his shot seems tailor-made for this competition; it's quick without requiring a great deal of energy. He's never scored worse than 14 in any of his three rounds and has the highest past average of the field.

Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks


Past Shootouts: None
Average Round: N/A
High/Low: N/A
Skinny: Like Billups, Terry has always been a good perimeter shooter but has taken it to another level the last two seasons, hitting 42.0% of his 3s a year ago and 42.5% this year. Terry's form should give him a good chance, and he told the Dallas Morning News that he and Nowitzki, the only teammates in the competition, have a surprise planned for Saturday night.