The Magic will have their chance to make an impact on their home floor throughout All-Star Weekend. Many times in All-Star games, players will try and work to get the host the MVP. So, if Dwight Howard is up for it, I am sure we will see a lot of lobs and post up opportunities for Howard in Sunday’s main event.
A lot of the intrigue with the Magic though is in Ryan Anderson.
Anderson, whom a lot of Magic fans believe was a snub for the All-Star game, will still get his chance to showcase his talent on the national stage. For the first time since 2009, a Magic player will compete in the NBA’s 3-point shootout. Never in Magic history has a player won this competition — although Dennis Scott came close in 1996 and Rashard Lewis came close in 2009.
Anderson represents a real chance to win this competition. He leads the league in 3-point makes (97) and 3-point attempts (222). Oddly though, Anderson is shooting a strong 43.7 percent from beyond the arc. You don’t see this kind of efficiency from high-volume 3-point shooters.
It puts Anderson at the forefront of the contenders to win this whole thing. But, then again, the 3-point shooting contest is much different than shooting in an actual game. Receiving a pass is much more different than shooting a ball off a rack. And having to do that under the pressure of the All-Star Weekend only adds a little more.
“I feel like, it’s going to be exciting,” Anderson said Friday during All-Star media availability. “It’s going to be really amazing to do it here. But Quentin Richardson made it pretty clear to say, once you step up there and you realize what you’re actually doing and everybody is watching you. I just want to have fun with it. I don’t really want to look at it like much of a competition. Obviously, I want to go out there and win. I just want to have fun, I’m not thinking about anything else.”
That is all anyone can ask for. Anderson said he got the chance to practice shooting off the rack while the team was in New Jersey. He said it was completely different and was something that took getting used to. This is not a normal shot where there is time to catch, release and watch. This is a timed competition where the ball is not right in your shooting pocket and you don’t have the time to watch the ball go in.
This is a very new thing for Anderson and gives a guy like defending champion James Jones a bit of a leg up. If you look at Anderson’s shot chart, you see a guy who can hit and make a 3-pointer from almost anywhere on the court. That bodes well for this kind of competition. There is no weak spot for him on the perimeter.
According to the NBA Stats Cube, Anderson is most effective in the corneres where he is 32 for 61 on the year. On “above the break” 3-pointers, Anderson shoots just 40 percent. This would suggest Ryan needs to get off to a strong start on that first rack from the corner to get some momentum going. It also suggests he could close strong if he is within six points of the lead when all is said and done.
Of course, Anderson is extremely efficient on 3-pointers period. So he just needs to get into a rhythm.
As far as the 3-point contest goes, that seems to be the big key as defending champion James Jones said.
“[Shooting off the rack is] different, it’s a lot different. But we’re NBA players and we adapt quickly,” Jones said. “If you’re not used to it, if you are a guy that is purely a jump shooter –- just great lift and elevation –- it can be tough. If you are a set shooter like the majority of guys in this competition, then it is really easy to get into rhythm.
“If you are a shooter, you can get an opportunity to shoot. If you are on that day, you’re on that day. There is nothing you can do about it.”
That really does mean you cannot count anybody out of the 3-point shootout. Even Kevin Durant, who had a poor performance in his only other appearance int he 3-point shootout, could come in and win the competition Saturday night.
Anderson though probably takes the right approach — and it is one Jones echoed Friday — this is a competition meant for fun. For a guy like Anderson, who has always been a shooter, he saw this event growing up and could only dream about actually competing in it. Anderson said the whole experience was a bit surreal.
It could get a little more strange as Anderson announces his entrance onto the national stage with the chance to compete and win at the 3-point shootout.