This NBA season has absolutely flown, hasn’t it? This weekend is the long awaited NBA All-star weekend. Tomorrow night kicks off the jam-packed weekend of events with the NBA Celebrity All-Star game as well as the Rising Stars Game. Saturday Night the skills challenges, 3 point-contest, and the legendary Slam Dunk contest will take place. To wrap up the weekend, the NBA All-star game will take place Sunday night. Here are my predictions for this weekend’s events and festivities:
Celebrity All-Star Game: Team Stephen A. will take on Team Wilbon on Valentine’s Evening at 7 pm. These rosters are very evenly matched with Team Wilbon being led by Common, recording artist and acted as an NBA player in the movie “Just Wright”, last year’s MVP Famous Los, former NBA player Quentin Richardson, and WNBA Chelsea Gray. Team Stephen A. is being led by Chance the Rapper, Quavo who was known to be great athlete in high school and has many viral videos of his hooping ability, WNBA star A’Ja Wilson, and former 1st round draft pick Darius Miles. In this clsoely contested battle, I am going with Team Stephen A. in this one. Quavo has some serious range and I think Darius Miles’ size will be a huge advantage in the paint. Score: 80-68 Stephen A.
NBA Rising Stars Game: The old format of this game used to be the rookies vs. sophomores match up with the league’s premier rookies taking on the league’s best second year players. The new format has emerged in all of the rookies and sophomores competing against each other and the team’s being separated by USA players against foreign-born players. This format has led to an increase in competition and presents a stronger diverse image for the league. Last year, Team USA won handily 161-144.
This format changed in 2015 and since that change, Team World has come out victorious on 3 occasions in much more evenly matched games than this year. Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, and RJ Barrett are going to lead this team into a tough battle against Team USA that has three players scoring 20 or more points per game. Team World has 4 single-digit points per game scorers compared to Team USA’s 0. In a game where little defense is played, this shootout style is strongly favoring Team USA in my eyes. Score: Team USA 170-144.
NBA Skills Challenge: This is a loaded field of talented players showcasing their handle, passing accuracy, shooting, speed, and finishing ability in the NBA Skills Challenge. Three former champions are competing this year, defending champ Jayson Tatum, 2018 champ Spencer Dinwiddie, and 2015 Patrick Beverley. These former champions do have company with All-Stars Pascal Siakam, Domantas Sabonis, and Bam Adebayo in the mix. As strong as the All-Stars and former champions prove as competition, my sleeper pick here is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He is filling in for the injured Derrick Rose, who was my personal favorite in this competition as he has seemed to find the fountain of youth this season. But, Gilgeous-Alexander is the replacement the field may not be ready for. His length, speed, and shooting will be key here and I think his athleticism sets him apart from the pack. Winner: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
3-Point Shooting Contest: Brooklyn’s Joe Harris is returning to the 3-pt. shooting competition against a loaded field. Below here is each participant with their 3-point shooting percentage this season:
- Trae Young: 37%
- Joe Harris: 41%
- Zach LaVine: 38.5%
- Davis Bertans: 42.4%
- Duncan Robinson: 43.8%
- Buddy Hield: 38.5%
- Devonte’ Graham: 37.4%
Although it will be difficult to unseat the champion, my money is on Duncan Robinson. His quick release matched with ability to keep his body controlled when shooting in a hurry is impeccable. Players that excel in more catch-and-shoot situations rather than dribble pull-up shots. Players that are able to shoot with rhythm without taking a dribble and being able to remain stationary thrive, and watching Robinson shoots proves to me that he will not have a problem adjusting to this contest. Plus, he got a story you got to love. From Divison 3 to NBA 3-Point Contest Champion, Duncan Robinson’s amazing story will add Saturday night as a new chapter when he brings home the hardware in this competition. Winner: Duncan Robinson.
Slam Dunk Contest: This is the only Saturday night contest without a returning champion of this decade. The competitors are Aaron Gordon, Dwight Howard, Derrick Jones Jr., and Pat Connaughton. Dwight Howard is the only previous champion, as he won it in 2008. It is a true bummer that the Contest will not feature 2-time champion Zach LaVine or Zion Williamson, as those two are widely regarded as the two most amazing dunkers in the league.
However, there is a great group right here. Derrick Jones Jr. has legitimate bounce, pair that along with his length and experience in the competition, he will be tough to beat. Check out this dunk he threw down last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfbS_vsdGA4. Aaron Gordon has failed to bring home a trophy after his legendary battle with Zach LaVine back in 2016. His struggles in his previous performances makes it hard for me to pick him this time around. Pat Connaughton is a true sleeper here. He is the only rookie of the event as well as the shortest contest standing at 6’5″. He has showcased his leaping ability this season and is primed to make a splash in this event, although it is fair to say that no one really knows what to expect.
With all of that considered, I am going with Dwight Howard as my Slam Dunk Champion. He has been his healthiest and his fittest this season since he won that Dunk Contest back in 2008 and this season of rejuvenation I feel can easily carry over into this contest. His experience of incorporating props, his size, and his strength to his advantage in this competition will bring him another trophy again. Winner: Dwight Howard.
NBA All-Star Game: Captains Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lebron James chose their teams for this year’s game. In a rematch of last season between these two captains, which ended with a 178-164 victory of Team Lebron, Giannis is looking to bounce back this season. Team Lebron also won back in 2018 as well defeating Team Curry in a nail-biter 148-145. This year taking a look at the rosters, which are linked here, it is hard to imagine Team Lebron falling this year either. In their starting five, they have arguably 4 of the best 5 players in the league right now with James Harden, Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and Luka Doncic. With Devin Booker stepping in for Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, and Jayson Tatum coming off the bench, Team Lebron sounds impossible to outscore, nevermind defend. Winner: Team Lebron 184-158.