While Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Tom Thibodeau have already punched their tickets to represent the Chicago Bulls in the Feb. 26 NBA All-Star Game, both Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson had hoped to join them next weekend in Orlando, Fla.
The Bulls' guards believed they earned the right to be named contestants in the Three-Point Shootout on Feb. 25. However, the NBA revealed the event's participants on Wednesday and neither Korver nor Watson were selected.
The six-player pool features a pair of Miami Heat guards, defending shootout champion James Jones and Mario Chalmers, along with Kevin Love, Ryan Anderson, Joe Johnson and Anthony Morrow.
Korver is Chicago's purest knock-down sniper and had built the strongest case among Bulls players to receive the nod this year. He ranks seventh in the league in three-pointers made (57) and 11th with a 44.2 percentage from downtown. For the second straight season, the 6-foot-7 product seemingly deserved to be in the showcase for the best three-point shooters in the league but was left off.
In fact, Korver has made more three-pointers and has a higher percentage from deep than three of the six participants, Johnson, Love and Jones -- the latter of whom has hit just 19 shots from beyond the arc, although he figured to get an invite given the fact that he's the reigning champion.
Watson, who has lobbied for a spot in the competition over the past week, is shooting almost 46 percent from three-point range, good for eighth-best in the league. The 6-foot-2 point guard has sat out 10 games this season, and he admitted last week that his missed time may factor into the league's decision making regarding the field. He knocked down 10-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc in his first four February games but has missed 13-of-19 in his last four.
Overall, the top five players in three-point accuracy will not attend the shootout at All-Star Weekend. Fortunately for Korver, he has participated in the competition twice in his nine-year career. Still, the league-best Bulls (24-7) were confident one, if not both of their candidates would get in.
"I think we both should make it," Watson told me in a phone conversation last Thursday. "If I had to vote for one, I'd vote for Kyle before I vote myself. But I think we both have been shooting pretty well and it’d be great if [one] of us made it -- and if [both] of us made it that would be even better. But if I had to vote for someone, I'd vote Kyle in."