Show Me The Money (Ball)
By Brian Martin
The eight-man field for the 2014 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest was announced on Thursday night along with a new rule that could turn out to be a game-changer.
There are still five shooting stations placed around the three-point arc. Each station still contains a rack of five balls. The contestants still have one minute to get through the course and shoot as many of the 25 balls as they can.
There are still racks that contain four orange balls (each worth one point) followed by one multi-colored "money ball" (worth two points) at the end of the rack.
But not every rack this time around. Introducing the "all money ball" rack.
Each participant will be able to place an entire rack of "money balls" at any one of the five stations on the court with every ball on the rack worth two points.
If a player feels most comfortable in the right corner, they can make every shot from that station worth two points. The decision on where to place this rack and the execution on these valuable shots is huge.
Good thing we have shots charts that can help us figure out which shooting station each player should choose.
Stats through games played on Feb. 6 (the day selections were announced)
Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic
3FGM-A: 90-211 (42.7%) | Shot Chart | Stats
This was not a difficult decision as Afflalo is hitting 55.3% on attempts from the left corner. He's posted a solid 46.2% from straight on, but he's shot more often and more accurately from the left corner.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
3FGM-A: 75-184 (40.8%) | Shot Chart | Stats
Beal shoots the straight on three at a higher percentage, but since he only has 16 attempts from that area this season, it may be best to move the "all money ball" rack to the left wing, where he's shot 46.4% and attempted the most threes this season.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
3FGM-A: 81-229 (35.4%) | Shot Chart | Stats
No player will need to make the most out of his "all money ball" rack than Irving, who enters the competition with the lowest overall 3-point percentage of any of the participants at 35.4%. However, the defending Foot Locker Three-Point Contest champ has two zones to choose from that he's performed well -- the left wing and straight on. Whatever he chooses, it's pretty safe to assume it won't be either of the stations on the right side of the court, where he's shot below 25%.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
3FGM-A: 86-223 (38.6%) | Shot Chart | Stats
The left side of the court has been more friendly for Johnson this season -- he's shooting nearly 50% from the left wing and 43% from the left corner. Either of those spots looks prime for the "all money ball" rack.
Belinelli has attempted the fewest threes among the eight-man field, but has also connected at the highest percentage (44.4%). He's been good from just about every zone along the arc, but has been outstanding from the right wing, hitting 56.1%. Look for an "all money ball" rack over there.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
3FGM-A: 158-389 (40.6%) | Shot Chart | Stats
No matter where along the arc -- or how far behind the line -- Curry pulls up for a three, we all think its going to splash down. Looking at the percentages, it makes the most sense to put the "all money ball" rack at the top of the key, where he is hitting 44.7% of his attempts.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
3FGM-A: 140-346 (40.5%) | Shot Chart | Stats
Another player with a high percentage on limited shots from one zone. As a point guard, Lillard doesn't spend much time in the corners waiting on a pass for an open look. Instead he's initiating the offense and attempts nearly all of his three from above the break (all but 34 out of his 346 attempts). He really could go with either wing, but there is a slight edge in percentage on the right at 45.7%.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
3FGM-A: 107-285 (37.5%) | Shot Chart | Stats
The percentage from the left corner is great, but with only 13 attempts, it's doubtful the "all money ball" rack goes there. Instead, look for the left wing, where Love has attempted over half of three pointers this year (150 out of 285 total attempts), to be the spot.