Is Steph Curry’s 27 the best 3P contest round ever? (and other thoughts on All-Star Saturday 2015)

February 15, 2015 in Basketball, NBA, Sport

curry three

I had my money on his splash brother, Klay Thompson, but Steph Curry proved tonight that he’s the best three-point shooter alive when he’s on a roll, knocking down 20/25 shots en route to an all-time best score of 27 in the final round of the 2015 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.

But was it the best three-point contest performance of all time? Let’s take a deeper look.

Nominally, 27 points is the highest score in any NBA Three Point Contest since the competition was introduced at All-Star Weekend in 1986. However, since last year, the contest has had the “money ball rack”, in which every ball in one rack of the contestant’s choice is filled with money balls as opposed to just the last ball of each of the five racks. This means instead of a perfect score of 30 as it had been in the past, the perfect score of any single round is now 34.

Steph’s final round shot chart is as follows.

CURRY

– He only missed five shots in the entire round, including two money balls
– He was nearly perfect from the money ball rack, missing only his last shot
– At one stage he hit 13 consecutive shots, the second longest hot streak in the contest’s history

The previous highest score in Three Point Contest history is 25, by Craig Hodges in the first round of the 1986 contest (when no one had a clue how ridiculous that was) and Jason Kapono in final round of the 2008 contest. Both were accomplished when there was no money ball rack and the perfect score would have been 30.

Of course, you can’t really say that things would have turned out exactly the same if there was no money ball rack, but keep in mind that if that were the case, Steph’s score would have technically only been 23, which would have tied for eighth all-time in the pre-money ball rack era.

On the other hand, Kapono’s shot chart from his record-tying round (at the time) is as follows:

Kapono

Kapono also missed five shots like Curry and had a hot streak of only 10 consecutive shots, but his score was boosted by the fact that he made all five of his money balls.  If there was a money ball rack at the time, Kapono’s score would have ranged from 27-29, depending on where he put it.

As for Craig Hodges’ 25-point round in 1986, I haven’t been able to track down his shot chart or locate any video on YouTube to create one. It actually appears that no complete video of his performance even exists, being that this was one of the first rounds of the contest ever. Also, back in the day, two contestants would shoot at the same time at opposite ends of the court, and the cameras were actually more focused on Hodges’s opponent.

In any case, I managed to catch the back end of Hodge’s performance and can confirm that he must have missed at least three shots because he made his last two money balls and missed another regular ball. In fact, it is probable that he missed at least four shots because his round is not in the list of most consecutive baskets made, where the minimum is nine consecutive shots. This means he could not have had two perfect racks in a row.

So regardless of whether Hodges made all five of his money balls in that round, the most number of shots he could have missed is five, which would have at least tied Curry.

The round that Hodges actually gets more mentions for is his 1991 semi-finals round, where he smashed the record for most consecutive shots with 19 — a record that still stands today — en route to 24 points.

Here’s his shot chart.

Hodges

Hodges ran out of steam in the end and missed his last three shots, but the ridiculous thing is that he hit his first 19 shots and missed only four shots overall. If there was a money rack, his score would have ranged between 26-30.

Among the other 24 rounds in contest history (Mark Price in 1994, Hubert Davis in 1998, Kapono in 2007), none of them missed fewer than five shots.

The verdict: while Curry’s 27 points is indeed impressive, it’s not necessarily the best Three Point Contest performance of all-time. Craig Hodges bests him in terms of least shots missed (at least once, probably twice) and most consecutive shots made, while Jason Kapono would have at least gotten the same score and as high as 29 if there was a money ball rack.

Other thoughts and observations on All-Star Saturday 2015

Degree Shooting Stars — next! (This is always about who can make the half-court shot)

Taco Bell Skills Challenge — I liked the idea of having two guys compete at the same time so it pushes them a little more. I was as stunned as anybody that Patrick Beverly (a late replacement for John Wall) won it in the end, coming from behind each round to steal victory when his opponent could not capitalize on the last three-point shot (it was previously a top-of-the-key shot). I also liked the gamesmanship too when he stomped as he ran up behind his opponent to know them off their games.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest — most stacked contest of all-time with winner Curry, runner-up Thompson and the likes of Kyle Korver (aiming for the NBA’s first 50-50-90 season), defending champion Marco Belinelli, former winner Kyrie Irving, scoring leader James Harden, specialist JJ Redick and sharp shooter Wesley Matthews. Turned out to be by far the most exciting event of the evening because of the star power and drama.

Sprite Slam Dunk — no big names, but no worries thanks to Zach Lavine, my early pick, who performed some effortless high-difficulty dunks including an off-the-bounce, threw-the-legs one-handed reverse in a Jordan Space Jam jersey and an off-the-bounce, behind-the-back in the first round to earn a perfect 100. With the contest pretty much wrapped up thanks to Victor Oladipo’s misses, the second round was kinda anti-climatic, though Lavine still performed some very sick dunks. Thank goodness the teenager was there because everyone else sucked dogs balls (looking at the Greek Freak and Plums in particular).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZaGBDmhoU4

The only other decent dunk was Oladipo’s first successful jam, but it was NOT a 540-degree dunk as Kenny Smith claimed it to be. You cannot start and end up facing the same direction if you did a 540-degree spin, which is what Oladipo did. It was in fact a 360-degree reverse that finished on the other side of the rim. Still a well-deserved 50 though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDcm17QHiK0

PS: A quick word about the scoring. I don’t think the way it works right now is consistent. Apparently a missed dunk should be awarded a minimum score of 6/10, though in one case Dr J gave Oladipo a 7/10 for effort. But for made dunks by Plumlee and Antetokounmpo — pretty decent dunks too — the judges were also awarding 7s. That’s not right. The gap between made dunks and missed dunks needs to be bigger. The way I see it, a missed dunk should be awarded an arbitrary number of say 4 (it is a “fail”, after all, though I resist awarding dunks 0/10 because you have to give guys a chance to catch up) and the worst made dunk (like one that accidentally goes in off a failed attempt) should score no lower than 5. That sets a barrier between made dunks and missed dunks, and provides a much wider range for judges to score.

Luck no. 13: Soderling stuns Federer at French Open!

June 1, 2010 in Tennis

Nobody beats Robin Soderling 13 times in a row.  Nobody.

In the most unexpected result since he ousted 4-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open last year (becoming the first, and so far, only man to beat Rafa at the French), Robin Soderling delivered another shock bomb today when he defeated world no. 1 Roger Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

It was sweet revenge for Soderling on a couple of levels — first, he had never beaten Federer in 12 previous attempts; and second, he lost to Federer in the French Open final last year (after which he said that before the match that he “yokingly” said that “nobody beats me 10 times in a row” — of course, he lost another couple of times to Federer after that, extending the streak to 12).

The stunning upset in the quarterfinals also brought an end to Federer’s remarkable 23 consecutive appearances in Grand Slam semifinals.  The next closest is Ivan Lendl with 10.  And if Nadal wins the French (and let’s face it, he probably will), Federer will lose his no. 1 ranking, robbing him of the chance to tie Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at that spot.

Good for Soderling.  All streaks have to end some time.  This French Open has now become a redemptive quest for Rafa — or perhaps the crowning of the official giant slayer in men’s tennis?

Pulse Smartpen: write, record and convert to editable text!

October 30, 2009 in On Writing, Technology

smartpen

The Pulse Smartpen from Livescribe and the special 'dot' paper notepad

I feel almost obligated to share this nugget with my readers.

Recently, following a technology session at work, my wife went and bought me this thing called the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen.  This slightly fatter than normal, but still relatively lightweight pen, blew my world.

I once posted an article on this blog in which pondered whether I was more effective as a writer writing (ie pen on paper) or typing.  I concluded that I was more creative and came up with better material when writing on paper (at least for my novel), but the speed with which I could pump out words on the keyboard shifted the balance in favour of typing.

Well, the Pulse Smartpen may shift that balance once more.

Using some sort of hi-tech infra-red camera technology, state of the art recording capabilities and special ‘dot paper’ (virtually invisible to the naked eye), the pen allows the user to record sounds while you write, and effortlessly links the audio to the written material.  And more importantly for writers, you can transfer the handwritten notes into editable text on the computer (with a special program).

In other words, I can utilise the pen to take advantage of my improved creativity when writing with pen on paper, while being able to simultaneously save time by converting the writing to editable text in my novel writing program without having to type it up all over again!  What it also means is that I can carry my Livescribe notepad (containing the special paper) wherever I go and write whenever I want, and not feel like I am wasting time because I’d have to type it all up when I get home.

As GOB Bluth (from Arrested Development) once blurted out loud in response to a talking magazine: “I didn’t even know this kind of technology existed!”

Recording function

This is actually quite simple.  For instance, if I’m taking verbal instructions from a client or attending a lecture, I just have to turn on the pen, tap the ‘record’ button at the bottom of the paper and write away.  If I miss something, never fear.  All I have to do later is tap my pen on the page at the spot where I struggled to keep up, and the audio recording will start playing from the exact point in time I wrote those words (or drew those pictures).

And if you download a program called Livescribe Desktop from the website, you can load the written pages and the audio onto your computer for long-term storage (using a USB dock which you place the pen in, and which also acts as a battery recharger).  If you register the pen, you’ll even get some free web storage so you can upload your notes and audio for access on other computers.

This function has already come in very handy at work, especially during long conference calls and when receiving instructions from a busy superior who might not have the patience to keep repeating him/herself.  Gold!

smartpen2

This gives you a fair idea of the size of the pen

Converting to editable text

Note this is actually not a part of the Pulse Smartpen’s package.  The program which converts handwriting to editable text is an additional add-on program which you can download for free as a 30-day trial, but costs around US$30 to buy.  However, for me it was well worth it.

The way it works is this: after uploading the written pages (which don’t have to be accompanied by audio) to Livescribe Desktop, if you have the relevant program installed, you can click on a little button that converts the handwriting to editable text automatically.  This text can then be moved to your preferred word processing program.  And voila, it’s as though you typed it all up in the first place.

So far I’ve written about 8 or 9 pages of my novel on the train on my way to and from work, and it has been converted into text and cut and paste straight into NewNovelist.  No more excuses for not being able to progress it every day!

Downside

As with most things that sound too good to be true, the Pulse Smartpen is too, to a certain extent.

First of all, it’s not cheap, so if you don’t utilise it fully it’s not really worth it.  Depending on the storage size of the pen (1G, 2G or 4G), you’re looking at around US$150-200+, and most likely substantially more if you are buying it from retailers outside the US (eg A$329 for a 2G pen according to the Australian website).

Secondly, you need that special ‘dot paper’ to get the pen to work.  My pen came with a 200-page notepad (100 pages, double-sided), and once that runs out you have to buy new ones.  However, you can, if you have access to a colour laser printer, print out your own paper in small amounts at a time.  I do have access to one at work, but the multiple firewalls are preventing me from printing them at the moment (mental note to find a way around it).

A connected issue is the special ink cartridge that the pen requires.  I am quite certain that you’ll need to buy those too when the ink runs out, and the cartridges themselves are rather small, so I imagine that would happen relatively often, adding a further expense.

Thirdly, the conversion to editable text is nowhere near perfect.  The conversion process can be slow (one page at a time) and if you have unruly handwriting, the conversions can lead to some crazy results.  You can try to mitigate that to some extent by inserting special words in the custom dictionary and specify auto-conversions for certain words that keep getting converted wrong.  While it does save you a lot of time, it doesn’t save you as much time as you wish it could.  Put it this way – I would be very surprised if there isn’t a solid handful of manual edits and format changes required for each page of writing I convert.

Verdict

I’m usually pretty retarded when it comes to technological advancements, so I’m clueless as to whether there are similar products or products that achieve the same results out there on the market.  With that in mind, I personally think the Pulse Smartpen is awesome, for both work and writing purposes.

As I have an extraordinarily short attention span, the ability to record important conversations (especially surreptitiously) is invaluable at work.  I guess it allows me to be that little bit lazier but it’s a safety net I’d much rather have than not.

Equally important to me is the pen’s potential to convert hand-written pages to typed font.  While the conversion is far from seamless, it allows me to write in places and circumstances I wouldn’t usually be able to.  For a person that can’t seem to find any time to write, this makes the Pulse Smartpen a worthwhile investment.