NBA All-Star Weekend Preview An In-Depth Look at Basketball’s Biggest Weekend
The National Basketball’s Association’s best and brightest players will be on display in Chicago this weekend. All-Star Weekend begins on Friday, February 14th, and will feature much more than just the All-Star Game. There will be five competitions for NBA players to compete in. The first of these events will be the Rising Stars Game.
All-Star Weekend action will kick off on Friday night with the Rising Stars Game. The first competition of the weekend pits the best young players from around the world against the United States top youngsters. The international team is headlined by Luka Doncic, who will also be playing in the All-Star Game Sunday night. They also feature former number one overall pick Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns, 2019 Summer League MVP Brandon Clarke of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They will be squaring off against the United States team. The top two picks from the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, and All-Star Trae Young are the headliners for America. Since the game switched to its current World vs. USA format in 2015, Team World leads the series 3-2. Team USA won last year’s game 161-144. The Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 finalists will also be announced on Friday night.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge is the first of three events on Saturday night. It tests players’ abilities to pass, shoot, dribble, and run. Players must dribble through gates, make a layup, make a precise pass, and make a three pointer to finish the challenge. This year, eight players will compete in the challenge. Jayson Tatum, last year’s champion, will be back to defend his title. Other participants include All-Stars Pascal Siakam, Domantas Sabonis, Bam Adebayo, and Khris Middleton.
The next event on Saturday night will be the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest. The NBA’s top snipers will be on display in the annual 3-point contest. Although this year’s contest features less star power than in previous years, it will still be a highly competitive display of shooting range. Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and defending champion Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets are the headline names in this years’ contest. Other participants include Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards and Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat are both in the top ten for 3-point shooting percentage. This will be Trae Young’s second of three events over the weekend, as he is also in the Rising Stars Game and an All-Star starter. Another participant, Zach Lavine, is a former Dunk Contest Champion.
This season, the NBA is changing the format of the 3-point contest. As the NBA describes it, there will be an “addition of two shots in the “MTN DEW Zone” – two locations positioned equidistant between the traditional racks at the top of the 3-point arc and the adjacent “wing” rack. Each of the two ball pedestals in the MTN DEW Zone is located 6 feet behind the 3-point line and holds one special green ball, the “3-Ball.” Shots made with the green ball are worth three points.” Normally, each made shot is worth one point. The new “3-Ball” will increase player scoring and competitiveness.
The AT&T Slam Dunk Contest is the final event on Saturday night. Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks, Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic, and Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat will be participating in the contest. Connaughton. will be making his first appearance while Gordon, Howard, and Jones Jr. will be returning to the stage. This will be Aaron Gordon’s third appearance, following a runner up performance in 2016 and a fourth place finish 2017. Howard will be making his fourth appearance. He went to three straight contests from 2007 to 2009, and won it all in 2008. Derrick Jones Jr. was the runner up in 2017.
The contest will start with two rounds featuring all four contestants. Each contestant will have three attempts per round to complete one dunk. A panel of judges will score their dunk 6-10. The two contestants with the highest combined scores will advance to the final round. The two finalists will then have another two rounds, and the finalist with the highest combined score in the final rounds will be the champion.
The main attraction will take place on Sunday night when Team Lebron faces off against Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star Game. The two teams were drafted by their respective captains, Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. The captains were selected because they were the top All-Star vote getters in their conference. James and Antetokounmpo drafted from a pool of 22 players, 11 from each conference. Below are the final rosters in the order that the players were drafted:
Team Lebron: Anthony Davis- Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard- Los Angeles Clippers, Luka Doncic- Dallas Mavericks, James Harden- Houston Rockets, Damian Lillard- Portland Trailblazers, Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers, Nikola Jokic- Denver Nuggets, Jayson Tatum- Boston Celtics, Chris Paul- Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook- Houston Rockets, Domantas Sabonis- Indiana Pacers
Team Giannis: Joel Embiid- Philadelphia 76ers, Pascal Siakam- Toronto Raptors, Kemba Walker- Boston Celtics, Trae Young- Atlanta Hawks, Khris Middleton- Milwaukee Bucks, Bam Adebayo- Miami Heat, Rudy Gobert- Utah Jazz, Jimmy Butler- Miami Heat, Kyle Lowry- Toronto Raptors, Brandon Ingram- New Orleans Pelicans, Donovan Mitchell- Utah Jazz
The All-Star game will use a different format to honor the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. First, Team Lebron will wear number 2 to honor Gianna Bryant and Team Giannis will wear number 24 to honor Kobe Bryant. Secondly, the game itself will be scored differently. At the start of each of the first three quarters, the score will reset to 0-0. The “winner” of each quarter will be able to donate $100,000 to the charity of their choice. At the start of the fourth quarter, a final target score will be set, which will be the team with the cumulative lead’s score plus 24. For example, if the cumulative score of Team Lebron through the first three quarters was 100 points (and they were winning), then the target score would be 124. The final quarter will be untimed, and end when the target score is reached by either team. The winning team will get to donate $200,000 to the charity of their choice.
All-Star Weekend is sure to bring excitement and entertainment to NBA fans around the globe. Each and every event will showcase the talent of the participating players. The NBA will be testing new formats to enhance fan experience and honor the memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant while displaying young phenoms and veteran stars.