In last year’s Three-Point Contest at WNBA All-Star, Chicago’s Allie Quigley posted a score of 29 in the tiebreaker shootout against Las Vegas’ Kayla McBride. It was the highest single round score in the history of the Three Point Contest for either the WNBA or NBA, topping Devin Booker’s 28 from the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.
A key to posting that huge number was Quigley’s performance on the right wing, as she cleared the rack by going a perfect 5-for-5 with each shot counting for two points.
Traditionally, each rack of balls in the Three-Point Contest consists for four standard balls counting for a single point and the final money ball counting for two points at the end of the rack. In 2014, the NBA added a new wrinkle to the contest by introducing an all-money-ball rack – five balls each worth two points – and gave the shooter the choice of which of the five spots to place the rack.
That injected a new level of strategy into the competition and increased the maximum score from 30 to 34. Not only was it about getting into a good shooting rhythm, having the right timing to get through the five racks and 25 shots in under 60 seconds and trying to catch a hot streak, but now a player could pick which shots meant the most to their round.
When the WNBA reintroduced the Three-Point Contest to its All-Star festivities in 2017, they adopted the same new rule and it has produced fantastic results. Let’s go back to last year’s contest – which you can watch in full here – and see how important the all-money-ball rack was to both Quigley and McBride as they pulled away from the rest of the field with their lethal accuracy.
On her way to successfully defending her title – a title she’ll look to defend again on Friday in the WNBA Three-Point Contest presented by MTN DEW – Quigley made 13-of-15 from her all-money-ball rack, which was posted on the right wing for all three of her rounds (first, championship and tiebreak).
- First Round: right wing; 5/5 on money ball rack
- Final Round: right wing; 3/5 on money ball rack
- Tiebreak: right wing; 5/5 on money ball rack
- Total: 13/15 on money ball rack
Here’s the video evidence of the impressive performance she put on at Target Center in Minneapolis.
McBride was nearly just as good from her all-money-ball racks – which she placed straight on at the top the key – as she sank 12-of-15 during her three rounds.
- First Round: straight on; 3/5 on money ball rack
- Final Round: straight on; 4/5 on money ball rack
- Tiebreak: straight on; 5/5 on money ball rack
- Total: 12/15 on money ball rack
Finding the right spot for those super valuable shots is critical to not only winning the contest, but just making it out of the first round against five other sharpshooters.
So let’s try to help this year’s participants find their ideal placement for the all-money-ball rack. We’ll examine their shots charts from this season to see which zones they are most accurate and most prolific and try to find the right combo to suggest a rack placement.
Note: Stats and shot charts through games played on July 24
Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky
Quigley’s 3-Point Shooting Stats
- Overall: 51-107 (47.7%)
- Left Corner: 4/8 (50%)
- Right Corner: 2/8 (25%)
- Above The Break: 45/91 (49.5%)
We can examine the charts and try to make a suggestion, but when you set the event’s all-time best score, its a pretty safe assumption that putting the all-money-ball rack in the same spot is going to happen. She went a perfect 5-5 on the all-money-ball rack twice last year. Just put it on the right wing and let’s move on.
Kayla McBride, Las Vegas Aces
McBride’s 3-Point Shooting Stats
- Overall: 36-76 (47.4%)
- Left Corner: 2/4 (50%)
- Right Corner: 3/4 (75%)
- Above The Break: 31/67 (46.3%)
McBride is in essentially the same boat as Quigley. She had so much success with her straight-on all-money-ball rack last year, why would she change it this time around? In last year’s contest, McBride made three, then four, then all five of her money balls from the rack.
Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks
Gray’s 3-Point Shooting Stats
- Overall: 23-64 (35.9%)
- Left Corner: 0/1 (0%)
- Right Corner: 1/1 (100%)
- Above The Break: 22/62 (35.5%)
Now we get to have a little fun with players that are new to the Three-Point Contest. Gray has shot just two corner threes all season, so let’s take those out of the running from the jump. Also, placing the all-money-ball rack in a corner can be a bit tricky; its either your first rack when you’re still cold and have yet to find a rhythm, or its your last rack and you take the risk of running up against the clock if you’re not shooting fast enough throughout the course.
Aside from that, Chelsea is at her best above the break, and looking at her shot plot chart, there’s a lot of green in that straight on spot above the key. Let’s go with the straight on spot – the third rack location – for Gray.
Kia Nurse, New York Liberty
Nurse’s 3-Point Shooting Stats
- Overall: 39-110 (35.5%)
- Left Corner: 1/2 (50%)
- Right Corner: 5/8 (62.5%)
- Above The Break: 33/100 (33%)
Remember all that talk warning about placing the all-money-ball rack in the corners? Let’s scrap that for Kia Nurse and put her rack in the right corner, where she is shooting 5-for-8 (62.5%) on the season. If she wants to avoid the corners, the left wing could be another option as most of her above-the-break threes come from the left side.
Shekinna Stricklen, Connecticut Sun
Stricklen’s 3-Point Shooting Stats
- Overall: 45-115 (39.1%)
- Left Corner: 5/7 (71.4%)
- Right Corner: 0/3 (0%)
- Above The Break: 40/105 (38.1%)
Stricklen is the only non All-Star in the Three-Point Contest field, but she is a long-range specialist for the Connecticut Sun with 45 3-pointers made so far this season, which ranks second in the WNBA to Quigley’s 51. Stricklen has attempted 115 3-pointers compared to just 29 2-pointers this season, so she’ll be right at home in this contest.
The shot charts again point us toward a corner as Stricken is shooting 5-for-7 from the left corner so far this season. While those seven attempts aren’t high, that 71.4% accuracy sure is. However, if she chooses to move away from the corners, she can stay on the left side at the wing and place her rack there as she has plenty of green on her shot plot from that zone.
Erica Wheeler, Indiana Fever
Wheeler’s 3-Point Shooting Stats
- Overall: 35-82 (42.7%)
- Left Corner: 1/4 (25%)
- Right Corner: 0/1 (0%)
- Above The Break: 34/76 (44.7%)
The charts show two clear choices for Wheeler to place her all-money-ball rack – straight on or the right wing. Let’s go with the right wing since she has so many attempts clustered right where that rack would sit, compared to her straight on threes that are spread a bit across the top of the key. Wheeler ranks third in the competition in 3-point accuracy at 42.7 percent on the season, with only one of her threes coming from the corners.