Why the 3-point-shootout field tops the dunk-contest field


Imagine your ideal 3-point-shootout field.

It’d look an awful lot like the actual field: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, James Harden, Kyrie Irving , J.J. Redick, Wesley Matthews and and Marco Belinelli.

Now, imagine your ideal dunk-contest field.

It’d look nothing, or nearly nothing, like the actual field: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Zach LaVine.

Has the 3-pointer replaced the dunk as the premier shot in the NBA? Are 3-pointers now cooler than dunks?

Teams shoot 3-pointers more often than ever, relying on them to generate efficient points and space the floor. As the NBA has loosened defensive rules, the lane has become more packed, limiting dunking opportunities.

But 3-pointers cooler than dunks? No way. A jumper is not more exciting or fun or exhilarating than a slam.

So why don’t we get LeBron James, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook in the dunk contest like we do Curry, Thompson and Korver in the 3-point shootout?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NBA, as negotiated with the players’ union, can require anyone to participate in the 3-point shootout (or skills challenge or shooting stars contest) with two exceptions:

1. The player isn’t injured.

2. The player hasn’t competed in the event the previous two years (unless he’s the defending champ, in which case he can be required to return).

So, Curry and Irving, both of whom participated in the 3-point shootout the previous two years, were the only two exempt healthy players. Luckily for the NBA, Curry badly wants to win the event, and Irving will participate, too.

The dunk contest is explicitly excluded from these stipulations. In fact, the only players the league can require to compete in the dunk contest are Rising Stars Challenge participants.

Unsurprisingly, all four dunk-contest entrants this year are also in the Rising Stars Challenge.

The CBA calls for more money for the dunk-contest winner ($100,000) than the 3-point shootout winner ($50,000*), but that’s not enough to persuade top players to enter the dunk contest.

*Set before the league increase the participants from six to eight last year, so the figure might have been altered.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN wrote a good article on the changing nature of the NBA, and as he says, there is a buzz for this year’s 3-point shootout – more than the dunk contest. But I don’t see the NBA’s evolution and this year’s All-Star Saturday Night as closely linked as he does.

Elite players want a break more than that cash. Passing on the dunk contest is more about the contractually negotiated right to do so – a right much more limited for the 3-point shootout – than anything else.






Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.


Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.

Hornets’ rookie P.J. Washington out weeks with fractured little finger

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In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.

While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.

Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.

The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).