Commentary: NBA All Star Weekend predictions


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Giannis Antetokounmpo is the captain of one of the All-Star Teams for the third time in his career. Will this be the first year he’s able to bring home a victory?

As the NBA regular season takes a break, it’s officially All-Star Weekend, with Salt Lake City as host. There are a variety of different games and events going on throughout the weekend. What players and teams will take home the hardware?

Ruffles All-Star Celebrity Game
My pick: Team Dwyane

The first event is the Celebrity All-Star game. The two captains are Utah Governor Ryan Smith and 13-time All-Star Dwyane Wade. I think Team Dwyane will win. Now, I could simply pick this due to the fact that one captain is a governor and the other is a future NBA Hall of Famer. Rather, if you look at the headliners on Wade’s team, you can see the skill. D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, is one of the most athletic players in the NFL. Metcalf is a freak of nature, standing at 6 ‘4”, 235 pounds and running a 4.33 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine.

Along with Metcalf, Arike Ogunbowale, guard for the Dallas Wings, is on the roster. Ogunbowale is a two-time WNBA All-Star who led the Wings in scoring in each of her four seasons in the league. Wade’s team also has Alex Toussaint, last year’s Celebrity All-Star Game MVP. Wade’s team has too much potential to not walk away with the hardware. As for the MVP of the game, I believe Toussaint will repeat.

Jordan Rising Stars
My pick: Team Pau

The Jordan Risings Stars event concludes the weekend’s first night. The NBA changed the format last year, moving from one big game of first and second year players to a four-team mini tournament.

Former NBA players Deron Williams, Joakim Noah and Paul Gasol drafted teams from the NBA’s young talent, while former NBA player and G-League coach Jason Terry is leading a team of G-League players to the event. Team Pau seems to be the best team in the tournament and my pick to bring home the victory.

Williams, Gasol, and Noah drafted among the 21 players elected to the event, and Gasol won the draft easily. Gasol used his first pick to select the number one pick from the NBA Draft, Paolo Banchero, the frontrunner to bring home the Rookie of the Year Award. Gasol paired the soon-to-be Rookie of the Year with last year’s Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes, who is putting together his second straight solid season for the Toronto Raptors. The rest of the roster includes Jose Alvarado, Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard, all of whom are having good seasons for their respective franchises. As for the Rising Stars MVP, I think it’ll be awarded to Alvarado, due to the high energy he brings to the team.

Kia Skills Challenge
My pick: Team Jazz

The first event of All-Star Saturday night is the Kia Skills Challenge. Similar to the Rising Stars Challenge, the NBA changed the format to a three-team, three-event showcase. The teams are Team Antetokoumpo, made up of the Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis, Thanasis and Alex; Team Jazz, composed of players from the hosting Utah Jazz organization and Team Rookie, built with the best first-year players.

The events are a relay, a passing competition and a shooting contest. I believe the most well-rounded team is Team Jazz. The hosting city’s team won last year’s showcase. History will repeat itself.

Starry 3-Point Shooting Contest
My pick: Kevin Huerter

My personal favorite event of the weekend sees some of the league’s best shooters show off their three-point shooting ability. The field has a duo of teammates, from the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton plus last year’s winner Buddy Hield. Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Kevin Huerter of the Kings, Jayson Tatum of the Celtics, Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz, Tyler Herro of the Heat and Julius Randle of the New York Knicks, replacing Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons, complete the field.

All of these participants are averaging at least 2.5 threes made per game and shooting at least 33% from behind the arc. Huerter is a huge part of a Kings team that has been surprising a lot of people this season. He’s having his best season of his career and it’s about time he brings home some hardware.

AT&T Slam Dunk Contest
My pick: Mac McClung

The final event of the night is usually the most electric: the dunk contest. The amount of crazy dunks and insane athleticism on display is mesmerizing. This year’s field might not be the most exciting of all time, but definitely has some hyper-athletic players. The four participants are Trey Murphy III of the New Orleans Pelicans, Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Houston Rockets, Jericho Sims of the New York Knicks and Mac McClung, who just signed to join the Philadelphia 76ers after playing for their G-League affiliate. McClung’s mixtapes are mainly made up of his gravity defying dunks, as he only stands 6’2”. McClung’s first major mark on the NBA will be his Dunk Contest victory.

72nd NBA All-Star Game
My pick: Team LeBron

The weekend wraps up with the All-Star Game. Even though the rosters haven’t been picked, I will take Team LeBron. Since the NBA changed the rosters from East versus West to drafted teams, Team LeBron is 5-0 in the matchups, taking down Team Giannis back to back in 2019 and 2020. LeBron simply drafts the best team each year, and this year will be no different. As for the All-Star Game MVP, I believe superstar point guard Ja Morant will bring home the award. Morant is one of the NBA’s most exciting players and will put on a show, leading to his selection as All-Star Game MVP.

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