On Friday February 17 the stars of the NBA will gather in New Orleans for the annual All Star Weekend events, starting at 7:00 p.m. The events will run through Sunday February 19, and will be shown on TNT and NBA TV respectively.
The contest features the Celebrity All Star game, the Rising Stars challenge, the D-League All Star game, the skills challenge, the three point contest, the dunk contest, and finally the main event, the All Star game.
The Rising Stars game will feature several great players from the league, including the red hot Devin Booker and the dominant force of Karl Anthony-Towns representing the USA team. The World team features one of our own, with Domantas Sabonis of the Thunder. He’s not the only great player on the team though, with rising star Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks headlining the World squad. This game should be a close one throughout, but watch for the USA team to take this one with the sharp shooting Devin Booker pouring in a healthy amount of three balls.
The skills challenge will be a battle of “bigs” and “smalls” this year with the winner of the two sides facing off. The two teams include Gordon Hayward, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, and Devin Booker for the small competition, and Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid DeMarcus Cousins, and Kristaps Porzingis for the bigs. My prediction is that John Wall will take the whole thing with his speed and athleticism.
The three point shootout should be the most contested event this year with a star-studded lineup including Eric Gordon, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Wes Matthews, CJ McCollum, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, and Nick Young. Returning champion Klay Thompson should be considered the frontrunner for the victory; however, look for Kyrie Irving or CJ McCollum to make a push for the throne.
The Dunk Contest will never live up to last year’s match, when Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on an absolute show. Unlike LaVine, however, Gordon will return to try to take the title that just eluded him last year. The contest will include Aaron Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson III, and Derrick Jones Jr. I can’t see anyone but Aaron Gordon walking away with this one.
Last but not least is the main event, the actual All Star game. The East starters include Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler. The reserves include John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Paul George, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, and Paul Millsap. The West starters are Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis. The reserves are Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Gordon Hayward.
It should be a fun game this year, with high scoring as always. Look for Steph Curry to make a push for MVP with a new sheriff in town. For Kevin Durant this will be one of the only times he feels like he has a green light for half court threes. Also look to LeBron to try to bolster his impressive record with another MVP. However, don’t count out my choice for all star MVP with Russell Westbrook taking it; especially after feeling disrespected by not being a starter, look for Russ to try to take on the world in a high scoring performance. The West team takes it in a 142-135 win.