Knicks, Anthony winning with the 3

Carmelo Anthony is attempting 2.49 3-pointers for every long 2-point attempt this season. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

This Saturday in Houston, some of the NBA's best long-range bombers will take the court for the league's annual 3-point shootout. And although a shooting contest is a somewhat frivolous exercise, the 3-point shot itself has had a very serious effect on the way the game is played.

Teams are discovering that outside of an attempt close to the rim, the 3-point shot is the most efficient in basketball, and thus every effort should be made to maximize those chances.

On the other hand, the long 2-point shot -- which for our purposes will be defined as a 2-point shot from outside of 18 feet -- is one of the most inefficient shots in basketball, as it carries most of the risk of a 3-point shot without the reward of an extra point for a successful attempt.

Since the 2000-01 season, the average field goal percentage on long 2-pointers is 39.9 percent compared to 35.6 percent for 3-pointers. However, this does not take into account the extra point provided by a made 3-point shot.