NBA and ESPN's HORSE Competition - Each Team's Best Competitor

While the NBA is struggling to find a way to bring back the regular season, the league and ESPN are working to bring together some alternate programming for fans in the meantime.

The first idea they’ve come together on is a televised H-O-R-S-E tournament. Where players would shoot in isolation and attempt to match shots with competitors. The details are yet to be finalized.

What is H-O-R-S-E?

A variation to the game of basketball, H-O-R-S-E is a recreational game played by two or more competitors.

Turn order is generally decided before the game begins, wherein a player must make a shot in their particular way of choosing. It is usually explained beforehand to the other competitors how the shot will be taken, in order for the subsequent shots to be taken correctly.

Should a player miss a shot, not including the turn leader, the letters H, O, R, S, and E are awarded as misses are accumulated. Upon “spelling” out the word Horse, a player is eliminated from the match. The last person in the game is deemed the winner.

The variety of shots that can be taken is flexible. The location taken, dribble-moves, and backboard usage are the most common moves used to create a unique shot. Sometimes, upon player agreement, dunks are also available for imitation.

Best H-O-R-S-E Candidate by Team

Golden State Warriors (15-50) – (G) Stephen Curry

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 31 GSW 5 27.8 20.8 5.2 6.6 .402 .245

Don’t be put off by two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry’s 2019-2020 stats, he is still the deadeye shooter he is known to be.

The 2015 NBA Three-Point Contest winner has dazzled fans throughout his career with his ability to make shots from all over the court. After playing only five games this season, it would be an excellent return showcase for him.

Secondary Choice: Klay Thompson, Damion Lee.

Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46) – (F) Kevin Love

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 31 CLE 56 31.8 17.6 9.8 3.2 .450 .374

Five-time All-Star and 2012 Three-Point Contest winner Kevin Love is the obvious choice as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ representative in a game of horse. Not only does he have range within the half-court line, he’s shown full-court passing accuracy that could easily make for some unique shots in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Secondary Choice: Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman.

Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45) – (C) Karl-Anthony Towns

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 24 MIN 35 33.9 26.5 10.8 4.4 .508 .412

Karl-Anthony Towns has been setting the standard for shooting big men in the NBA. As capable from inside the arc as he is outside the arc, Towns may be the best shooting seven-footer since Dirk Nowitzki. The two-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year is the best bet for the Timberwolves in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Secondary Choice: Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez.

Atlanta Hawks (20-47) – (G) Trae Young

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 21 ATL 60 35.3 29.6 4.3 9.3 .437 .361

Trae Young has an in-the-gym range. Meaning as soon as Young steps on the court, he is a threat to hit a shot. We’ve been graced by Young’s ability to score at the net as far as out to the free-throw line. While he’s shown that he can be streaky, his range is matched only by Stephen Curry.

Secondary Choice: John Collins, Kevin Huerter.

Detroit Pistons (20-46) – (F) Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 21 DET 56 22.6 9.0 1.9 1.9 .410 .404

Mykhailiuk is a pure shooter. He has excellent size, form, and focus, all helping lead to his 40.4% three-point shooting percentage. The Ukrainian sophomore is certainly the best shooter on the Detroit Pistons.

Secondary Choice: Luke Kennard, Tony Snell.

New York Knicks (21-45) – (G) RJ Barrett

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 19 TOR 56 30.4 14.3 5.0 2.6 .402 .320

Is RJ Barrett the best shooter in on the New York Knicks? Not at all. While passable shooting from range, Barrett’s ability in a match of H-O-R-S-E would come from his athleticism as much as his jumper. Creative dunks and layups would be in his wheelhouse, adding a unique dimension to the rookies game.

Secondary Choice: Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis.

Chicago Bulls (22-43) – (G) Zach Lavine

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 24 CHI 60 34.8 25.5 4.8 4.2 .450 .380

Zach Lavine was putting up All-Star numbers before the NBA seasons suspension, averaging 25.5 points per game with more than three three-pointers made per game.

He’s been impressive and would likely match any shooter he’s up against. In his toolbox though is supreme hops.

Who in the world could match him should he attempt a between the legs dunk from the free-throw line?

Secondary Choice: Lauri Markkanen, Coby White.

Charlotte Hornets (23-42) – (F) Miles Bridges

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 21 CHO 65 30.7 13.0 5.6 1.8 .424 .330

The reigning NBA Rising Stars Challenge MVP, Miles Bridges had a coming-out party in his second year.

Making a huge leap in production and projected potential, Bridges is a player all GM’s have their eyes on. His combination of shooting and athleticism make him a real threat in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Secondary Choice: Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham.

Washington Wizards (24-40) – (G) Bradley Beal

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 26 WAS 57 36.0 30.5 4.2 6.1 .455 .353

There is no question who on the Washington Wizards should be involved in a shooting competition.

Two-time All-Star Bradley Beal was recently snubbed from this year’s NBA All-Star Game. Always the competitor, Beal would be out to prove his quality in a shooting contest against the leagues best.

Secondary Choice: Davis Bertans, Jordan McRae.

Phoenix Suns (26-39) – (G) Devin Booker

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 23 PHX 62 36.1 26.1 4.2 6.6 .487 .360

Both the most productive and healthiest season of his career, Devin Booker was named to his first All-Star team in 2020.

Not only is Booker a reigning three-point champion, but he also set the competition record for most points in a three-point contest with 28/34. Booker would undoubtedly be one of the competition’s favorites.

Secondary Choice: Kelly Oubre, Aron Baynes.

San Antonio Spurs – (G) Demar Derozan

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 30 TOR 61 34.3 22.2 5.6 5.6 .526 .267

High-flying antics and difficult shots are Demar Derozan’s calling card. In fact, there may not be a better player in the league at circus plays. While the four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA guard doesn’t tout the range of his competitors, Derozan is more than capable of keeping opponents on his heels with an acrobatic fadeaway or powerful slam-dunk.

Secondary Choice: LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills.

Sacramento Kings (28-36) – (G) Buddy Hield

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 27 SAC 64 32.0 19.8 4.8 3.1 .429 .395

The reigning NBA Three-Point Contest Champion is the obvious choice for the Sacramento Kings in the event of a H-O-R-S-E competition.

While Hield has struggled to fit into Luke Walton’s plans with the Kings, he still certainly one of the best marksmen in the NBA. Hitting almost four three-pointers per game, Hield’s consistency is top-tier.

Secondary Choice: De’Aaron Fox, Nemanja Bjelica.

New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) – (G) JJ Redick

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 35 TOR 54 26.4 14.9 2.6 2.0 .450 .452

There are few in the league that could ever question the shooting ability of JJ Redick. A legendary shooter at both the collegiate and professional level, Redick has a career average three-point shooting percentage of 41.6% over 15 seasons in the NBA. Redick has only gotten better with age.

Secondary Choice: Nicolo Melli, Brandon Ingram.

Portland Trail Blazers (29-37) – (G) Damian Lillard

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 29 POR 58 36.9 28.9 4.3 7.8 .457 .394

Is this even a question? Damian Lillard is one of the best shot-makers in the NBA and is certainly the best shot-maker in Portland Trail Blazers history.

While he hasn’t had much team success, Lillard is a top-tier scorer who is perfect for a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Secondary Choice: Carmelo Anthony, CJ McCollum.

Orlando Magic (30-35) – (F) Terrence Ross

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 28 ORL 63 27.3 14.8 3.2 1.2 .407 .357

Terrence Ross gets the edge over his teammate Evan Fournier due to the versatility in Ross’ game. Ross is not only a 35.7% three-point shooter, but he is also a two-time NBA Slam-Dunk Champion. Whether it be through acrobatics or range, Ross would be a dark horse candidate against the NBA’s elite.

Secondary Choice: Evan Fournier, DJ Augustin.

Brooklyn Nets (30-34) – (G) Spencer Dinwiddie

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 26 BKN 64 31.2 20.6 3.5 6.8 .415 .308

This selection comes with a huge asterisk as both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would be ahead of Dinwiddie were they not injured long-term.

Durant is even the two-time NBA All-Star H-O-R-S-E Champion when it was briefly played from 2009 to 2010. Dinwiddie has proven himself a more than capable scorer and leader for the Nets in his star teammates’ stead. He’s the best choice to represent the Nets.

Secondary Choice: Joe Harris, Caris LeVert.

Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) – (F) Jaren Jackson

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 20 MEM 54 28.0 16.9 4.7 1.4 .468 .397

Jaren Jackson came out this season and surprised everyone with the versatility of his game. Aided by the penetration ability of rookie Ja Morant, Jackson has proven himself a more than capable shooter, making 2.5 threes per game on 39.7% shooting.

Secondary Choice: Dillon Brooks, Ja Morant.

Philadelphia 76ers – (F) Tobias Harris

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 27 TOR 65 34.5 19.4 6.8 3.2 .472 .362

Contrary to last season, the Sixers are rather limited in the shooting department this season. Their best overall scorer is likely Tobias Harris.

Able to convert from range and inside, Harris is incredibly versatile. There’s one thing you can guarantee from the Sixers though, you won’t be seeing Ben Simmons in a shooting competition anytime soon.

Secondary Choice: Furkan Korkmaz, Joel Embiid.

Indiana Pacers (39-26) – (F) Doug McDermott

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 28 IND 62 20.0 10.4 2.5 1.1 .491 .445

You don’t get a nickname like “Dougie McBuckets” without a serious ability to shoot the ball. A career 41.3% three-point shooter with a career 55.8% effective field-goal percentage, McDermott is known for efficiency and quality in his shooting.

Secondary Choice: Justin Holiday, Aaron Holiday.

Dallas Mavericks (40-27) – (G) Seth Curry

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 29 DAL 59 24.5 12.6 2.4 2.0 .500 .453

If you’re looking for a pure shooter, look no further than the Curry Family.

Seth Curry is actually the stronger three-point shooter in terms of percentage out of all of his NBA-playing family members. Shooting 45.3% from three and 42.9% from the corner on a 78.7% assisted shooting rate, Curry is as pure a shooter as you might get.

Secondary Choice: Tim Hardaway, Luka Doncic.

Houston Rockets (40-24) – (G) James Harden

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 30 HOU 61 36.7 34.3 6.4 7.4 .435 .352

Can you say that the NBA’s scoring leader doesn’t belong representing his team in a game of H-O-R-S-E? Harden makes 4.4 threes per game and has a 36.4% usage rate.

I think we can safely say he is the most qualified player on his squad, if not the league.

Secondary Choice: Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon.

Oklahoma City Thunder (40-24) – (G) Chris Paul

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 34 OKC 63 31.8 17.7 4.9 6.8 .489 .362

At 34 years old all signs point to Chris Paul slowing down, yet he continues to defy athletic conventions and has led a supposedly weak team back to the playoffs.

Paul may not be the best shooter or most adept scorer, but he’s proven over his 15-year career that he is the man to lead a team to victory.

Secondary Choice: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari.

Miami Heat (41-24) – (G) Duncan Robinson

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 25 MIA 65 30.0 13.3 3.3 1.4 .467 .448

Hear us out before you vilify WSN for not selecting Jimmy Butler for the role.

Butler is a fantastic overall player, but Duncan Robinson has come into this season an absolute flamethrower from range.

The sophomore is shooting 44.8% from deep and has improved his scoring average from 3.3 to 13.3 and his three-point shooting from 28.6% to 44.8%. That is a player made to play H-O-R-S-E.

Secondary Choice: Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro.

Utah Jazz (41-23) – (F) Bojan Bogdanovic

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 30 UTA 63 33.1 20.2 4.1 2.1 .447 .414

Bojan Bogdanovic is a lethal shooter.

With almost half of his field-goal attempts coming from three-point range and him converting on 41.4% of them, Bogdanovic can light it up from anywhere on the court. Bogdanovic is so scoring-adept that he posted a 35-0-0-0-0 stat line in a win over the Pelicans.

That is scoring at its truest.

Secondary Choice: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles.

Denver Nuggets (43-22) – (G) Jamal Murray

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 22 DEN 55 32.8 18.8 3.9 4.8 .455 .345

Certainly a streaky shooter, Jamal Murray is one of the best marksmen on the Denver Nuggets.

With a season-high of seven three-pointers made in one game, it’d be easy to see Jamal Murray blow the roof off the building with a camera and national audience watching.

Secondary Choice: Will Barton, Nikola Jokic.

Boston Celtics (43-21) – (F) Jayson Tatum

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 21 BOS 59 34.6 23.6 7.1 2.9 .448 .398

Jayson Tatum, the go-to scorer for the Boston Celtics, is the first choice in a game of H-O-R-S-E. With career highs in scoring and shooting percentage, none can measure up to Tatum on the Celtics this year.

While the Celtics have gone away from their movement-oriented gameplan, Tatum has made up for it with his impressive iso-scoring ability.

Secondary Choice: Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward.

LA Clippers (44-20) – (G) Paul George

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 29 LAC 42 29.1 21.0 5.7 3.9 .432 .399

Paul George is still one of the best in the league from anywhere on the court.

He’s certainly produced some shock and awe as a dunker in the past, but he is now almost exclusively a perimeter threat.

Despite missing a number of games this year, his quality has been on display in limited appearances.

Secondary Choice: Kawhi Leonard, Landry Shamet.

Toronto Raptors (46-18) – (G) Matt Thomas

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 25 TOR 33 9.7 4.5 1.5 0.5 .486 .467

Matt who?

Matt Thomas may be an unknown to most casual NBA fans, but scouts and coaches have drooled over his shooting ability.

Prior to joining the Toronto Raptors, Thomas was known as Mr. 99% in Europe. Owing to his 99% effective field-goal percentage on catch-and-shoot opportunities, Thomas is one of the best shooters in the world.

Upon joining the Raptors he’s maintained his quality shooting – 46.7% from three and 57.9% on corner threes. Need we say more?

Secondary Choice: Fred Vanvleet, Norman Powell.

Los Angeles Lakers (49-14) – (F) LeBron James

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 35 LAL 60 34.9 25.7 7.9 10.6 .498 .349

This may be a bit skewed because LeBron James is certainly not one of the best shooters on his team.

In fact, James is statistically one of the worst shooters from deep on his team.

But to question the ability of a 16-time All-Star, three-time NBA Champion, three-time Finals MVP, and four-time League MVP is certainly not in our interest.

Secondary Choice: Anthony Davis, Danny Green.

Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) – (F) Khris Middleton

Season Age Team Games MP PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
19-20 28 MIL 55 30.1 21.1 6.2 4.1 .499 .418

The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the league due to the effort of reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

However, his bullying skillset isn’t suited to winning a game of H-O-R-S-E. Two-time All-Star Khris Middleton is shooting over 41.8% from deep on 5.8 attempts per game.

The epitome of cool under pressure, Middleton is the Bucks’ best representative for the opportunity.

Secondary Choice: George Hill, Kyle Korver.


Has the NBA ever held a H-O-R-S-E competition before?

In 1978 and from 2009 to 2010 the NBA held a H-O-R-S-E competition during All-Star Weekend. The winners were Paul Westphal of the Phoenix Suns in 1978 and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder in both 2009 and 2010.

Will this competition precede the return of the NBA season?

It is unknown when the NBA season will return. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently stated that the NBA won’t have an accurate statement on the future of the NBA season until at least May 1.

Who are the best shooters in the NBA?

The top three in three-point field-goals made this season are James Harden (271), Buddy Hield (244), and Duncan Robinson (243).

The top three shooters in terms of three-point percentage are George Hill (48.0%), Seth Curry (45.3%), and JJ Redick (45.2%).

By True Shooting Percentage, the top three are Mitchell Robinson (72.6%), Rudy Gobert (70.0%), and Duncan Robinson (67.8%).

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