3 Hornets who could still make it to NBA All-Star weekend

2024 NBA All-Star weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana
2024 NBA All-Star weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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3-Point Contest: Nick Smith Jr.

Some people, and especially casual NBA fans may scoff at this, but hear me out. Smith Jr., the 19-year-old rookie guard, took 24 games to carve out a consistent role in the Hornets rotation. But in the 30 games he’s appeared in this season, Smith Jr. has proven his sharp-shooting prowess to Hornets fans.

He’s averaging a ridiculous 47% from the 3-point line on the season, which puts him first among all rookies by a wide margin, with only two others even at 40%; Cason Wallace of the Thunder is second at 42.3% and Marcus Sasser of the Detroit Pistons is right at 40%.

Smith Jr. has only attempted 87 3-pointers on the season, which leaves him just short of the 100 attempts threshold necessary to qualify on the NBA leaderboard, but at this rate, he’ll be there in short order - likely before the 3-Point contest occurs.

If he were eligible right now, Smith Jr. would be second in the entire league, only trailing Grayson Allen of the Phoenix Suns, who is currently shooting a lights-out 49.8% from deep, and just ahead of Aaron Nesmith of the Indiana Pacers, at 46.3%. 

Two of the current top 6 players in 3-point percentage (Doug McDermott of the Spurs and Jalen Williams of the Thunder) have attempted fewer than 140 threes on the season, and both have played in at least 10 more games than Smith Jr.

In other words, his case is fairly compelling, and while he may not have the name-brand value, or proven resume in the league, his shooting ability can’t be questioned. The NBA will most likely aim to lure bigger names with more star power to participate in this event, but in terms of finding the purest shooters, they should look no further than Nick Smith Jr.