Suns guard Devin Booker can accomplish something during NBA All Star Weekend that no one has before.
Booker looks to become the first rookie to win the 3-point contest in the 30th year of the event. It won’t be an easy task, facing the defending champion Steph Curry of the Warriors, along with his teammate Klay Thompson, the Heat’s Chris Bosh, the Rockets’ James Harden, the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, the Bucks’ Khris Middleton and the Clippers’ J.J. Redick.
“It’s stiff competition,” said Booker on Tuesday after practicing with all five racks for the first time. “Best shooters in the game, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Obviously Steph is the favorite and Steph’s, numbers-wise, is the best shooter in history already, you know he’s just breaking his own records. But there’s obviously other great shooters in the competition with J.J. Redick, Klay, just the whole field is great shooters. With my name being mentioned with them is already a plus, but hopefully I can go out there and get a win.”
Curry leads the NBA with 233 hits from deep this season at an incredible 45-percent clip. Redick leads the league in 3-point shooting at 48-percent. Thompson is also in the top 10 in percentage, while Harden and Lowry are in the same category with makes.
Booker has only taken 135 threes this season, connecting on 55, good for 40 percent.
The most difficult part of the event for Booker is how unnatural the process is.
“Shooting off a rack is totally different than regular shooting,” he said. “It’s a totally different skill. There’s catch and shoot, shoot off the dribble, then shoot off the rack. Usually, if you look at the history the favorite of the 3-point contest doesn’t win besides Steph last year. Shooting off the rack is a lot more difficult than shooting off the pass.”
Despite the challenges presented, the chance to participate is something Booker is looking forward to. As a 19-year-old, it wasn’t long ago he was taking all of this in as a fan.
“It’s really exciting,” said Booker. “Growing up as a kid, I remember just watching All-Star Weekend. It’s crazy, there’s gonna be some kids’ first time ever get to see me it’s All-Star Weekend. Lot of kids don’t watch no games throughout the year, but they’ll watch the 3-point and dunk contest.”
The exhibition takes place this Saturday in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Booker is the only Suns player participating in the All-Star Saturday night activities.