Let’s pretend the All-Star 3-point contest didn’t have some shots that were worth more than others or balls that were worth more points than others.

In this imaginary world, where it’s purely about who can hit the most shots — best percentage wins — Lauri Markkanen would have sailed through the first round of last weekend’s contest in Indianapolis.

Is that how Markkanen would like the competition to be formatted?

“Based on how it went this year, yeah,” Markkanen said with a laugh. “Might be different next year, though. … It’s easy to be smart afterwards.”

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Markkanen was feeling very confident prior to the 2024 3-point contest.

He’d already been through it once before, so he wasn’t going to be as nervous, he’d changed where his “money ball” rack was going to be placed, he’d had incredible practices and was ready for redemption.

But things didn’t work out as planned. 

When the lights came on at All-Star Saturday Night, Markkanen hit just 2 of 5 from the “money ball” rack, so despite going 9-for-10 to close out his run in the first round, he was eliminated after scoring just 25 points.

Had he left the “money ball” rack in the final corner, where he had it in 2023, he would have had the top score in the first round. 

Hindsight rears its ugly head once again.

But Markkanen still stands by his decision to put his “money ball” rack on the left wing. That’s where he was making all his shots from in practice, and that’s where he’d made every shot from in last year’s competition. That was the right decision.

Danny Ainge pushes his chips back onto the table

“I made my decision based on last year and how I felt at the end,” Markkanen said. “I wanted to put the balls in my favorite spot and be fresh shooting with fresh legs and kind of get the rhythm off the first rack. Practice rounds went really well with those so I don’t regret it at all.”

If the competition had been based on shots made, Tyrese Haliburton and Markkanen would have tied with 19 out of a possible 27 and Damian Lillard would have been the third finalist with 18 shots made. 

If you ask Markkanen, he jokingly said the reason he didn’t win was not because of the shots, but because he wasn’t allowed to wear what he wanted. 

Markkanen knows that he is one of the minority who actually loves the Jazz’s highlighter yellow jerseys and he asked the league if he could wear that during the 3-point contest. But every contestant was required to wear their team’s city edition jersey.

Then came the shoes. Markkanen has some bright yellow shoes that match the Jazz’s yellow uniforms, and because of the neon green LED court at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, he was asked to switch out to a different pair as well.

Maybe if Markkanen had been allowed to go out in a blaze of highlighter, neon glory, he might have fared better.

Jokes aside, Markkanen isn’t worried about the format, or the requirements for attire. Instead, he just wants another chance to prove himself and when asked if he’d be willing to do it all again in 2025, his answer was a resounding yes.

“It’s always a privilege to be a part of All-Star Weekend, so if the opportunity presents itself, yes,” he said. “It was really fun to spend time with those guys and go out there and compete and have fun. So of course if the opportunity comes, yeah.”

Milwaukee Bucks’ Damian Lillard shoots during the 3-point contest at NBA All-Star Weekend, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Indianapolis. The former Weber State star defended his 3-point contest title at this year’s All-Star Weekend. | Darron Cummings, Associated Press