All-Star Game Preview: Dunks on Dunks


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Love will participate in the All-Star game on Sunday
Love will participate in the All-Star game on Sunday

We have reached the All-Star break, and I think I speak for many NBA fans when I say “huh.” All-Star weekend isn’t the WORST thing on TV (I mean, this was a real thing at one point), and after the lockout doom and gloom, it’s certainly wonderful that we even have an All-Star weekend. But it isn’t real basketball.

In the absence of real basketball, here’s a preview anyway.

BBVA Rising Stars Challenge: Friday on TNT

Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter, but why does EVERYTHING need to be hashtagged now? Can you think of a single good reason why the words “Team Shaq” need to be scrunched together and prefaced with a number sign? Ugh.

Anyway, here are the lineups.

#TeamShaq

  • Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Blake Griffin, LA Clippers
  • Jeremy Lin, NY Knicks
  • Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
  • Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
  • Landry Fields, NY Knicks
  • Norris Cole, Miami Heat
  • Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
  • Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

#TeamChuck

  • Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
  • Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Paul George, Indiana Pacers
  • MarShon Brooks, NJ Nets
  • John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs (out with injury)
  • Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
  • Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz

I honestly the the Rising Stars challenge could be the second most entertaining event of the weekend. Not only are there a lot of young players represented who are really fun to watch, but the fact that it was selected like a playoff pickup game could mean that players take it personally that they were drafted lower or higher. Maybe there will be some actual competition? Actually, who am I kidding. Best case scenario: this happens again.

NBA D-League All-Star game: Saturday on NBA TV

You want real 5 on 5 competition over the ASW? This is probably your only chance. You know, as long as “knowing who the player are” isn’t on your list of requirements.

Haier Shooting Stars Competition: Saturday on TNT

Hey wait a sec, this is kind of cool. Four teams, one from Orlando, one from Atlanta, one from New York, and one from Texas. An NBA player, a WNBA player and an ex-NBA player team up and square off with each other. This is a 3 on 3 tournament, right?

No? It’s just a shooting tournament? Ugh. Wake me when the dunk contest starts.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge: Saturday on TNT

The roster:

  • Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
  • John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
  • Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets

In a contest that values flashy point guard skills, Rondo HAS to be the favorite, right? I’m picking Rondo first, then Kyrie Irving as my dark horse candidiate.

Foot Locker Three Point Contest: Saturday on TNT

The roster:

  • James Johnson, Miami Heat
  • Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic
  • Anthony Morrow, New Jersey Nets
  • Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat

Can’t say I really like Love’s chances here. The only player I’d pick him over is Chalmers. Anthony Morrow seems to be Twitter’s choice to win this event. Personally, I’d go with Anderson.

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: Saturday on TNT

Because let’s be honest, this is the only event we REALLY care about…and this year the Wolves are represented!

  • Jeremy Evans, Utah Jazz
  • Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Chase Budinger, Houston Rockets
  • Paul George, Indiana Pacers

As much as I appreciate the way D-Will can catch and finish Rubioops, Evans and George have to be the favorites. Both have demonstrated some excellent in-game dunking ability. Unfortunately, this contest feels pretty uninspired compared to last year. Screw Blake Griffin, bring back JaVale McGee!

There’s a new format this year as well. One round, three dunks per dunker, and (gulp) fan voting instead of judges. Because, you know, fan voting worked so well for the ASG starters. Ah well.

The All Star Game: Sunday on TNT

Funny how little most people care about this game. Dunks will be dunked. Long threes will be shot. Points will be scored in bulk. Kevin Love will come off the bench (though he deserved to start, statistically) for the Western Conference.

Enjoy the, um, festivities everyone!