Kevin Love joined elite company on Saturday Night by winning the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout. Past winners include Larry Bird (3) Peja Stojakovich (2) Glen Rice, Mark Price, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce (and other lesser-known snipers). Announcing the event for TNT were Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Shaq, and Charles Barkley. Chuck continues to pump K-Love’s tire with the “best power forward in the NBA” flattery, but mentioned more than once that he doesn’t want Kevin to fall in love with the three-point shot. He thinks he needs to do his work from 15 feet and in. Reggie seemed to disagree; perhaps a natural reaction from a player whose teams won many a playoff series behind his long-range gunning.
I fall squarely in Reggie’s camp on this one. Love’s perimeter shooting is a huge strength that helps the team by spacing the floor, capitalizing on Rubio passes, and–perhaps most importantly–taking Love away from the basket, where Nikola Pekovic is proving to be the more-effective option. Love is currently shooting 4.0 threes per 36 minutes, a career-high for him. For some perspective, here are past three-point champs and their career average for number of 3’s attempted per 36:
James Jones – 5.9
Paul Pierce – 4.3
Daequan Cook – 7.3
Jason Kapono – 4.2
Dirk Nowitzki – 3.1
Quentin Richardson – 5.7
Voshon Lenard – 5.7
Peja Stojakovich – 5.9
Ray Allen – 5.8
Jeff Hornacek – 2.2 (weird how low this is–he won the event TWICE, and barely shot 3’s in games.)
Steve Kerr – 3.6 (perhaps he and Horny just weren’t given the ball much, playing with multiple HOF’ers)
Tim Legler – 4.1
Glen Rice – 4.0
Mark Price – 4.1
Craig Hodges – 3.4
Dale Ellis – 4.4
Larry Bird – 1.8
Okay, now that I’ve made that list, a few additional thoughts:
* 4.0 is higher than I anticipated among the former champs. These are career averages though, and some of these guys had higher 3PA/36 during their prime years. Love is probably now in his prime.
* Some of these players were role players next to superstars–guys like Kerr, Hodges, and Legler were not given the ball very much, so low shooting frequency makes sense. For Love, this isn’t an issue.
* I don’t think Love–to this point–gets hounded around the perimeter like star shooters such as Allen and Peja. I think he could afford to shoot an extra 3 or two each game without forcing it.
Anyway, great representation of the Wolves tonight between Love’s title and one pretty amazing dunk by Williams, with help from Rubio. The team is certainly on the national radar now, and All-Star Weekend bears that out.