Get rid of the racks at NBA’s All-Star 3-Point Contest, and let teammates pass
The NBA’s All-Star Weekend does a lot right. The dunk contest is one of the most exciting events in sports. The skills challenge is fun, and should be even more entertaining this year with big men giving it a go. But as amazing as it is, the 3-point contest could use one big fix: Get rid of the rack.
Image if, like in the MLB Home Run Derby, a player got to choose a teammate (or a special guest — celebrity wattage alert!) to throw pass after pass rather than mechanically picking balls off a stationary stand.
J.J. Redick could receive passes from Clippers teammate Chris Paul. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry could catch a lob from Raptors brand ambassador Drake, who’s been a centerpiece at other events all weekend. Back in the day, Michael Jordan could have trotted out Scottie Pippen or Dennis Rodman for added star power.
It would actually resemble actual game flow and shooting motions. And therefore offer a more accurate champion.
Instead, Jordan was a historic loser at the 1990 event. In 2014, Hoops Hype examined the players with the highest shooting percentage at the All-Star 3-point shootouts. Jordan 1990’s effort finished last on the list. USA Today adds that Jordan’s five total made shots (16.6 percent of total opportunity) is the lowest of all-time, tying Detlef Schrempf’s 1988 performance.
It’s amazing to watch Jordan, a six-time MVP, 15-time NBA All-Star and arguably a GOAT, struggle so mightily on the racks. But its not shocking. In no small part, the racks are to blame.
It’s a strange motion. Just ask Redick, who told the LA Daily News how he struggled to adjust to the uncomfortable racks:
“Last year I grabbed the balls from the wrong side, so I feel like I’m already ahead of where I was last year. I’ll try to maintain somewhat of a routine that I would have if I was playing a game.
I didn’t really have an issue with the timing last year, it was more the rhythm. Depending on which side of the rack you grab the ball from, your footwork is a little different. Not that shooting 3s off a rack is an exact science or anything. Ultimately the ball just needs to go through the net.”
The Clippers guard also had the dubious honor of setting the record for most "long twos" in his 3-point shootout showing last year.
Just found out that I set the record for most long 2s in a 3 Point Contest. Ever. Couldn’t be prouder.
— JJ Redick (@JJRedick) February 15, 2015
Redick lost to Stephen Curry — who looks to defend his title Saturday night in Toronto. Curry won the event — and he also led the NBA in total threes made last season, with 286.
Last year’s champion happened to represent the best 3-point shooter in basketball. Though generally, using the rack would give those who have participated in the shootout previously a significant advantage.
But how about awarding the 3-point shootout to those who can shoot with the most accuracy after catching a pass, like it would look during an actual NBA game?
And beyond making the contest a more natural fit for more shooters, this fix could also add a new element of excitement to the otherwise occasionally boring event. Not to mention allowing for special moments, like when Josh Hamilton’s old coach pitched to him in baseball’s home run derby:
Of course, in the NBA, said moments are more likely to involve a hefty amount of celebration and borderline taunting. But that’s the point! Why not let Steph Curry celebrate in the 3-point contest the same way he does in the games? We’re here for the exhibition, after all, aren’t we?
Bryan Kalbrosky produces digital content for FOXSports.com. For more, follow him on Twitter @BryanKalbrosky