MIAMI — The Heat don’t have an All-Star on their roster, but it looks like they do have a 3-point contest participant.
Wayne Ellington has accepted a spot in the 3-point contest during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, according to an ESPN report. The shootout will take place on Saturday night, Feb. 17, at Staples Center along with the Skills Challenge and Slam Dunk Contest.
Ellington joins Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Houston’s Eric Gordon, Cleveland’s Kevin Love and Washington’s Bradley Beal as players who have reportedly accepted invitations to this year’s 3-point contest. Last season’s competition included eight participants.
“That would be a great honor,” Ellington said in advance of Thursday’s game against the Kings, with the Heat not confirming the news. “I heard there’s some chatter out there. So hopefully I get that call.”
The Heat have pushed for Ellington to make his first appearance in the NBA’s 3-point contest for the past few weeks with the social media hashtag of #WE2LA. But it was his play on the court that ultimately earned him an invitation.
Ellington entered Thursday tied with Gordon for fourth in the NBA in 3-pointers made with 140 behind only James Harden, Stephen Curry and Thompson. And among the 33 players averaging six or more 3-point shot attempts, Ellington’s 3-point shooting percentage of 40.6 ranks seventh-best in the league.
“He’s really elevated our offense. He’s probably been the most consistent component of our offense,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday of Ellington. “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 — not everyone, you have to have shooting ability to do it — but 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 drill. I enjoy watching Wayne working 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.”
As of Thursday, Ellington is expected to be the Heat’s lone representative at All-Star Weekend. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside did not make the All-Star Game roster, and Bam Adebayo was not one of the 10 USA players voted into the Rising Stars Challenge.
“The thing about this group, guys aren’t even really focused on that, to be honest,” Ellington said of not having a Heat player make the All-Star Game. “That’s the makeup of our team. That’s our character. Obviously it’s a great accomplishment to be a part of something like that. But we’re the type of team where guys aren’t offended and guys aren’t upset or mad or feel anything like that. I’ll tell you that there are guys that are deserving. It’s unfortunate, but it will be a little extra motivation. Not individual motivation, but for our team to open some eyes up, I guess.”
And some motivation for Ellington to make the Heat look good during All-Star weekend.
Six different Heat players — Jon Sundvold, Glen Rice, Jason Kapono, Daequan Cook, James Jones and Mario Chalmers — have combined to make 10 appearances in the 3-point contest in franchise history. Four of those 10 appearances ended with trophies, as Rice in 1995, Kapono in 2007, Cook in 2009 and Jones in 2011 won the event while with the Heat.
“If that’s the case, I will have to make sure I represent well,” Ellington said of the possibility of representing the Heat in Los Angeles. “I have to represent us to the best of my ability and make sure I’m holding us down.”