The greatest basketball weekend on Earth is only days away and it’s only fair to get so amped up about it. The traditional Rookies vs Sophomores is replaced by a USA vs the World format while the other events went pretty much back to the original setups.
Personally, I don’t enjoy watching All-Star games because it’s just a glorified shootaround. A lot of dunking, open layups, open jumpers… there’s nothing much to it. You can basically get the whole idea in the highlight films tomorrow and your dose of hoops entertainment should be met by then.
On the other hand, Saturday’s festivities are a little more personal and ego-driven. They compete against each other; no coaches, no teammates, no nothing but their prides on the line. Now that’s real competition.
Speaking of, let’s go about predicting the 2015 NBA All-Star Winners starting from the Skills Challenge all the way down to the 3-point shootout and Slam Dunk contest. Who you got homie?
Here are my picks:
Three-Point Shootout: Klay Thompson
This year’s contestants could be the best and most star-studded crew ever assembled for a three-point shootout. There are four All-Stars in the crop (James Harden, Kyrie Irving and “Splash Brothers” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) and J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver, and Wesley Matthews are all rainbow studs. And did we even mention the defending champ Marco Belinelli? In fact, Belinelli can be considered the “worst” of the group, shooting “only” 38.2% from three-point territory.
I don’t have enough faith on Irving, Harden, and Curry winning the shootout because most of their deep makes came off the dribble. They are what we call rhythm dribble shooters and not exactly the catch-and-shoot types. They are much more dangerous in a real game than a shooting contest where all they do is to catch and then shoot in one motion.
Belinelli shouldn’t be counted out but he has been hurt for the most part this season while Matthews, Redick, and Korver all have some minor issues. Mattews leads the crop in attempts but lacks the accuracy (39.7%) as his counterparts and while Korver and Redick are absolute marksmen (52.8% and 43.7%, respectively) they don’t shoot as many threes overall (303 and 268).
This deliberations lead me to pick Thompson, who is not only shooting 345 treys (behind Matthews and Curry) but hitting it at an impressive 44.1%. Bodog’s sportsbook has Curry and Korver ahead in the winning odds but I’m sticking with my man Klay here.
Slam Dunk Contest: Zach Lavine
This year’s batch is underwhelming to say the least. We have Mason Plumlee, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo and Zach Lavine. I have to rule out Plumlee and the Greek Freak because they’re so long and tall it’s not even exciting anymore. So this is going to be Oladipo’s and Lavine’s contest and I see the former UCLA Bruin hoisting the trophy by virtue of those 46-inch vertical leap. With those much hops, I think creativity should come in handy.
Bodog’s sportsbook has Lavine as the favorite (-110) to win the whole thing and you can’t blame them. It’s like the NBA is handing him the award just now.
Skills Challenge: Jeff Teague
USA vs the World: The World
All-Star Game MVP: Steph Curry