The Phoenix Suns have almost arrived at this year's All-Star break, although there is plenty of work to be done between now and the mid-season exhibition. The Suns will have two players in Kevin Durant and Devin Booker playing in the All-Star game itself, which is a fair reflection on how their season has gone to this point.
Durant goes in as a starter and first-half MVP for the Suns this season, while Booker was the Player of the Month in the Western Conference for January. Both also pass the final level of the superstar test, in that extremely casual fans of the sport know who both are if you mention just one part of their name, or else their initials.
The Suns also have a player in Grayson Allen who needs to be in the 3-point competition, but right now that is not guaranteed.
A couple of weeks back we tried to argue the case for Allen being an All-Star proper... but we just couldn't get there. The former Duke player might be having the best season of his career - in terms of both statistics, eye test and how he is legitimately helping a contender - but his ceiling is as an elite role player for the Suns.
A much easier argument could be made for Allen's inclusion in the 3-point contest though, and it starts with the fact he leads the league in this area at a ridiculous 49.1 percent this season. This coming on 5.3 attempts per game, which in itself should end the argument right there. Allen is hitting these shots like nobody else in the entire NBA this season.
It doesn't matter that he gets to spot up next to elite offensive players like Booker, Durant and Bradley Beal. He is not the only player who profits from great spacing out on the court, but nobody else has cashed in the way that Allen has. It also doesn't hurt that he is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his shooting ability is sure to see him get paid reasonably well by somebody.
Yet with All-Star Weekend edging closer and NBA Insiders beginning to reveal the lineups to the various competitions, we have yet to see Allen named as a contender in the 3-point competition. Shams Charania of The Athletic recently revealed five of the eight participants, with Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers confirming he will be the sixth.
That leaves two spots available - and if Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors decided they wanted to get involved - then they would rightly be given these last two spots. They are a big draw, and the best shooting backcourt tandem of all-time, to say nothing of their other amazing achievements in the league.
Allen can't beat either of those players out on name or pedigree, although it does need to be said again that Allen is shooting the ball from deep at a rate better than both this season. Warriors fans will obviously and correctly point to the fact Curry is a star who whole franchises literally game plan for, but the number beside Allen's name is still the best number in the league.
Besides, Curry will be facing off with WNBA and New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu, so it is highly unlikely he will be also taking part in this competition. Allen really should get the nod for one of the final two spots though, Beasley is the only other competitior currently confirmed who is even in the top 10 in the league (fifth, 45.1 percent).
The idea of All-Star Weekend is to have stars competing, so it is understandable that Damian Lillard, Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton (also the hometown hero), Lauri Markkanen and Mitchell are being invited. But if there is one single spot for a high percentage shooting role player, then Allen has to get that position ahead of Beasley.
It is almost ironic in that Beasley took Allen's role on the Milwaukee Bucks from last season and made it his own, and he has been excellent for them so far this season. But the Bucks already have Lillard, and just recently fired their head coach Adrian Griffin despite having one of the best records in the league.
Yes it is only the 3-point contest and we're probably overthinking it at this point, but Allen was the Suns' third best player when Beal was out through injury. He helped steady a sinking ship with his shooting alone, while the same cannot be said of Beasley. So yes, he absolutely has to be in Indiana for the 3-point contest this month.