Tonight, James Harden will be only the third-ever Rockets participant in the 3-point shootout, following Cuttino Mobley in 2004 and Kenny Smith in 1993. No one thinks he will win.
Harden will be facing, among others, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver and reigning champ Marco Bellinelli. Harden is a great shooter -- he's at 38.3 percent on the season after an abysmal start, and that's close to a career high -- but he's up against some of the league's greatest shooters of all time already (or at least on track to be, in the case of Thompson).
But the 3-point shootout is weird. Korver's done it twice before, and Curry's in it for the fourth time, and neither of them have won. In fact, looking back at the list of winners over the past decade or so, lower-percentage stars emerge just as frequently as specialists (via NBA.com):
Why not Harden? Of all the participants -- also including Wesley Matthews, J.J. Redick and Kyrie Irving (the 2013 champ) -- maybe Curry and Irving are the only two who shoot such a high-percentage of their threes highly contested.
What's more, we've all seen the Beard get hot. All he needs is two hot minutes to take home the title. I wouldn't pick him to win (my pick is Redick, although as a Maryland alumnus it pains me to admit that), but I sure as heck wouldn't be surprised if he does.
Patrick Beverley on the other hand... god bless his berserker mentality thinking he can emerge from any battle the winner on sheer will alone. Because in a skills competition field with Jeff Teague, my pick to win, Brandon Knight, Isaiah Thomas and Kyle Lowry, with a three-pointer added to the end of the challenge instead of a layup, Beverley's got no chance.
If Beverley wins, it will be the greatest upset in All-Star Weekend history. Defending on if you count Spud Webb in 1987.
There are no Rockets in the dunk contest, but in case you were wondering, I'm going against the grain and NOT picking Wolves rookie Zach LaVine. The kid has crazy athleticism -- seriously -- but he's never dunked with ANY creativity in a game. My pick is Victor Oladipo, who has already busted out 360s in games twice in his career.