Upside Hoops: NBA 3-Point Contest Preview

The 2021 NBA All-Star weekend is here and the yearly festivities include the Mountain Dew 3-Point Contest. This event is set to take place before the start of the All-Star game at 8 p.m. This year, there are six participants (3 from Eastern Conference and 3 from Western Conference) that will be vying to take home the sharpshooter title.

The participants include Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics). It is a star-studded field and all of the action will be available to watch on TNT.

 

Let’s take a look at each of this year’s participants.

Stephen Curry

Known as one of the greatest pure shooters in NBA history, Stephen Curry is a guard on the Golden State Warriors and currently leads the league with 164 3-pointers made this season. He is also tied for the league lead in 3-pointers made per game with injured Portland Trail Blazer CJ McCollum (4.8). This isn’t Curry’s first time participating in this event as he took home the title in 2015. In fact, he is making his seventh career appearance.

Curry is in the midst of a stellar season as he is averaging a team-high 29.5 points per game to go along with 6.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.26 steals. His reputation for making threes knows no bounds as he has hit one in 96 straight games, which is the third-longest streak in NBA history. There is no doubt that Curry heads into the event as one of the favorites to win it.

Devin Booker

If you’ve been watching the 3-point contest over the last few seasons, you know that Devin Booker is a mainstay when it comes to this event. The Phoenix Suns guard is just 24 years old, but will be making his fourth straight appearance and fifth overall. Booker finished third in 2016 and finished in second place behind Buddy Hield last year. In 2018, Booker set the record for the most points scored in one round (28) in route to winning the entire thing.

As part of a Suns team that is fighting to make the playoffs this season, Booker is averaging 25.2 PPG as well as 4.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds. He is having an efficient season as his field goal percentage of 50.3% is a career high mark. The sixth-year NBA playmaker has the experience and shooting skills necessary to be end up on top Sunday evening.

Donovan Mitchell

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell plays a big role on what is the current No. 1 team in the Western conference with an impressive record of 27-8. He leads the Jazz by scoring an average of 24.4 PPG in addition to 5.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He is currently tied for the seventh-highest amount of 3-pointers attempted per game this season alongside teammate Jordan Clarkson (8.6). Those two players are a major reason why the Jazz lead the league with 42.5 3-point attempts per game.

The fourth-year shooter out of Louisville is also hitting a career high 38.0% of his three point attempts. This will be the first time Mitchell is participating in this contest, but he does have one All-Star weekend title as the won the 2018 Dunk Contest. If he is able to overcome the odds and be the last player standing, it will be the first time a Jazz player has won this event since Jeff Hornacek in 2000.

Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine is in his seventh NBA season, but is easily playing the best basketball of his career with the Chicago Bulls. He is averaging 28.5 PPG (No. 7 in the NBA) and dishing out 5.0 assists to go along with 5.3 rebounds. Lavine’s all around game also reaches outside the three point line as he tied with Paul George for the fourth-highest amount of threes made per game this season (3.5).

LaVine is no stranger to this event as he participated last year, but did not make it past the first round. However, he has taken home two dunk contest titles (2015 and 2016) and will be looking to add to his trophy case. As a bonafide shooter, Lavine leads all participants with a 43.3% 3-point field goal percentage this season and remains underrated in his quest to outlast the rest and win the 3-point contest.

Jayson Tatum

As one of two Boston Celtics players taking part in this event, Jayson Tatum enters as a hungry first-time participant. He has some experience in All-Star weekend events as he won the Skills Challenge in 2019, but this is a whole other ballgame. Tatum is quietly putting together a solid season with the Boston Celtics as he is averaging a career-high 24.9 PPG in addition to 6.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

Tatum is making his second straight All-Star game appearance despite being just 23 years old. He isn’t known to be a 3-point scorer (39.5 career 3P%), but he is making 2.6 long balls per game this season. The Celtics have history with the 3-point contest as Larry Bird won the first three times it was put on from 1986-88. We’ll see if Tatum can bring some of that good luck with him on Sunday and come out on top.

Jaylen Brown

The other part of Boston’s dynamic duo is fifth-year guard Jaylen Brown. Brown is making his first appearance in both the 3-point contest and All-Star game this season and has blossomed into a go-to scoring option on the Celtics. He is averaging 24.8 PPG as well as 5.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.10 steals on a career-high 49.8% shooting percentage. Brown has also stayed a consistent three-point shooter in his career with a steady 37.3% three-point shooting percentage.

Brown’s 38.8.9% mark this season in that statistic ranks third amongst the contestants. While he may head into this event as an underdog, the former California Golden Bear could have some extra motivation playing near his hometown of Marietta, Georgia. This is Brown’s chance to ball out and show the league what kind of shooting skills he really has. He sure knows this as when he was asked about the contest, he said the league “should’ve asked me a long time ago.”

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