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Making a Splash at All-Star Weekend
By Brian Witt
Klay Thompson already has one JBL Three-Point Contest victory to his name. Will he add another this weekend?
This weekend, the NBA will convene in Los Angeles for the 67th NBA All-Star Game, and Golden State will have a large presence there, as you might expect. The reigning NBA champs boast four All-Stars in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson for the second-straight year, making them the first team in NBA history with four All-Stars in back-to-back seasons.
The highlight of the weekend for Warriors fans is likely to be the All-Star Game itself, which takes place on Sunday night. Under previous All-Star formats, all four Warriors would have been on the same team, but that's not the case this time around. The playground-style team selection process that was in place this year resulted in Curry, Green and Thompson on Team Stephen (the West captain), while Durant ended up on Team LeBron (the East captain).
But before the All-Star Game on Sunday, NBA fans will be treated to the events of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, and the Warriors will have a presence there as well.
Thompson will be the lone Warrior participating in any of the skills competitions, as he will participate in the JBL Three-Point Contest for the fourth-straight season. It will mark the sixth-straight year that the Warriors have had at least one player in the Three-Point Contest, giving them a participant in the event for the 10th time since its inception in 1986, including eight of the last nine years.
Thompson won the event in 2016 with a record-tying score of 27, after Curry prevailed the year before that. Last season, Thompson fell one three-pointer shy of advancing to the final round, which was ultimately won by Houston's Eric Gordon. This year, however, if we're handicapping a favorite in the field, it very well may be Thompson, who is in the midst of the best shooting season of his career.
He'll face some serious competition though, as sharpshooters Gordon, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Wayne Ellington, Paul George, Tobias Harris and Kyle Lowry fill out the list of the other participants.
Of those eight players, only George (187) has made more three-pointers this season than Thompson (184, 3rd in NBA), despite the fact that four of the other participants (including George) have taken more attempts. Thompson's three-point shooting percentage of 45.5 percent is not only a career-best clip and ranks first among all eight participants, it's also the top percentage in the league of any player who has attempted at least 63 treys this season. For reference, entering the All-Star break, Thompson has attempted 404 three-pointers this season.
All of those statistics result from actual games where the shooters often have defenders flying at them, so how that in-game accuracy correlates to three-point competition success remains to be seen. Safe to say though, these are some of the best shooters on the planet, and any one of them possesses the prowess to win it all.
As for the competition itself, here's a quick refresher on what will take place:
The contest is split up into two rounds. The order of competition in the first round will be determined by a random drawing, although Gordon will go last as the defending champion. The three players with the highest scores in the first round advance to the Championship Round, and the finalist who puts up the highest score will then be crowned the champion. In both rounds, players will have one minute to shoot as many of the 25 balls positioned around the three-point arc as they can.
In the event of a tie in the first round, a 30-second tiebreaker will take place between the tied parties. In the event of a tie in the Championship Round, the tied finalists will participate in a 60-second tiebreaker to determine the champion. If necessary, those processes will be repeated until the tie is broken.
A quick glance at the list of Three-Point Contest winners throughout NBA history reveals a collection of some of the greatest shooters to ever pick up a basketball. While Thompson is already on that list and a member of that group, a second Three-Point Contest victory would cement that status even further.