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Knicks’ Julius Randle joins Three-Point Contest

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When the NBA needed a replacement for the Three-Point Contest, they went with quantity over quality.

Anfernee Simons, a 38.1 percent three-point shooter who’s made the second-most threes in the league this season, sprained his ankle and will miss the Three-Point Contest. With most players already bound for either All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City or tropical vacation destinations elsewhere, the NBA picked his replacement from the existing pool of All-Stars.

Enter Julius Randle. The Knicks forward is an All-Star reserve, and has made the 10th-most triples in the league. Of course, he’s making just 33.8 percent of his attempts beyond the arc, which puts him 121st among qualifying players.

It’s not totally ridiculous. Jayson Tatum is making only 35.7 percent of his threes, 94th in the league, and he’s in the contest. And Randle is an All-Star who plays for the New York Knicks, a team in the league’s biggest market.

However, the better move would have been to select a different Knick: Point guard Jalen Brunson, who is shooting a lights-out 46.6 percent from distance since Jan. 1. He’s made 41.1 percent of his threes on the season. And since he was snubbed from the All-Star team, Brunson has been on a mission, averaging 31.9 points per game, and making 2.9 triples per game at a 50 percent clip.

Perhaps the NBA thought it would be insulting to invite Brunson only to compete in the Three-Point Contest. A similar logic may have kept them from inviting Klay Thompson, who wasn’t exactly snubbed, but has also been playing at an All-Star level in the new year.

And after all, the Three-Point Contest isn’t about who shoots the highest percentage of threes. It’s about who makes the most, and who has the intestinal fortitude to drill the two-point money balls. Randle has launched more threes than four of his seven competitors this year. Perhaps that will be experience enough on All-Star Saturday night.




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