With 11:46 remaining in the third quarter of the game way back on April 3 between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Blazers forward Moe Harkless received a pass from Damian Lillard in the right corner, rose to shoot, and rattled in his third three-point basket of the night. It was his 68th made three-pointer of the season, on 192 attempts, raising his 3PT percentage to 35.4.
Around three and a half minutes later, the ball swung to Harkless where he stood wide open on the left wing. Again, he rose up for three. “He’s got the hot hand,” the Blazers’ play-by-play announcer said; “Let it fly, Moe!” But the shot missed, and lowered Harkless’s three-point shooting percentage to 35.2. It was his final three-point attempt of the night; he finished three-for-five from outside the arc.
The next night, in Utah, with about six minutes remaining in the first quarter, Meyers Leonard swung the ball to Harkless on the right wing; he wasn’t wide open this time, but Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward had given him some space to fire up a three-pointer, and that’s what he did. And missed.
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Up to that point, early in Portland’s 78th regular-season game, Harkless had averaged roughly one three-point attempt for every 11 minutes of playing time he logged. But, despite playing around 20 more minutes in that game—and around 87 more minutes in the four remaining games on Portland’s schedule, including last night’s three-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in the 82nd and final game—Harkless never attempted another three-pointer.
You see, Moe Harkless’s contract, signed this past summer, included a $500,000 bonus if the career 31-percent 3PT-shooter finished the season shooting 35 percent or better from outside the arc. The miss against Utah dropped his 3PT percentage to 35.1—35.051, to be exact—a single miss away from falling to 34.8 percent. 35.1 percent is where it will stay. The regular season is over now.
For this reason, Moe Harkless is the clear choice for the 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player Award.