It looks like Wayne Ellington is going to get his wish – a shot to be crowned the NBA’s three-point champion.
According to an ESPN report, the Heat’s leading three-point shooter has received an invitation to participate in next month’s three-point contest during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. The Heat and Ellington, though, say he’s yet to officially receive the invite.
Ellington, 30, is having a career year in his second season with the Heat. He ranks fourth in the NBA in three-pointers made (140) and is shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Other participants reportedly invited to participate in the three-point contest include Rockets guard Eric Gordon, the defending champion, Warriors All-Star guard Klay Thompson, the 2016 three-point champion, Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal, Suns guard Devin Booker and Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love. The league had eight participants in the three-point contest last season.
“I heard there’s some chatter out there,” Ellington said Thursday after shootaround of his potential invite to the three-point contest. “So hopefully I get that call and I’m able to add to the [Heat’s three-point championship] list.”
The Heat, which own the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 27-20 heading into Thursday’s game against the Sacramento Kings at AmericanAirlines Arena, were snubbed Tuesday night when the list of All-Star reserves were announced. Miami didn’t have any players voted as starters.
Wednesday, rookie Bam Adebayo was not included in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge, which invites 20 of the best first and second year players in the league (10 from the United States and 10 from the rest of the world) to participate in an All-Star game.
Heat second-year swingman Derrick Jones Jr., a finalist in the Slam Dunk contest last year, said he has not received an invite to participate in this year’s dunk contest yet. But Jones Jr., 20, said he would be willing to participate again if asked.
If Ellington is selected he would become the seventh Heat player invited to participate in the three-point contest – the last being Mario Chalmers in 2012. James Jones (2011), Daequan Cook (2009), Jason Kapono (2007) and Glen Rice (1995) all won the three-point contest when they played for the Heat.
Ellington said if he does end up being the Heat’s only representative at All-Star weekend: “I will have to make sure I represent well.”
“I have to represent us to the best of my ability and make sure I’m holding us down,” he said.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has been pushing for Ellington to earn an invite for the three-point contest.
“I will not be watching [the All-Star Game],” Spoelstra said. “But if Wayne gets in that shootout, I’ll find my way off the beach and find a way to watch that.”
Spoelstra said Ellington has “really elevated” the Heat’s offense this season.
“He’s probably been the most consistent component of our offense,” Spoelstra said. “You love having someone on your team that every single opponent, the first three things they cover in shootaround will be that guy. And that’s pretty unique having a guy come off the bench where he’s at the top of opponent's preparation for you – because he is so unique. You don’t see it every single night, guys that fly off screens, full speed and to be able to do it with the efficiency that he’s been able to do it.
“The thing I say about Wayne all the time is that doesn’t happen by accident. There are a lot of guys that can develop a game similar to Wayne. The reality is most people aren't willing to put in that kind of work. Not only the physical conditioning, but practice and drills. I enjoy watching Wayne work out and go through his routine probably more than I like watching him play in the game because it’s so intense and so detailed and so consistent every single day.”
▪ Guard Tyler Johnson (sprained left ankle) missed his fifth consecutive game Thursday night and 15-year veteran forward Udonis Haslem missed the game for personal reasons. Point guard Goran Dragic (bruised left knee) returned to the starting lineup.
“Tyler went through the full shootaround [Thursday but] he is not going to play tonight to get him another couple days [off],” Spoelstra said. “Hopefully he’ll get a bunch of treatment, a workout [Thursday night] and proceed from there. Everybody else is ready to go.”