Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Handicapping the All-Star Saturday events

Feb 7, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

source:

A week from now the eyes of the basketball world will be on New Orleans for the NBA’s Damian Lillardapalooza. … er, I mean the NBA’s All-Star weekend.

While Sunday’s All-Star Game is the big show, I’ve always found Saturday night’s series of skill contests more fun than the no-D exhibition that is the All-Star Game itself. So, in the spirit of gambling (I guess), let’s take a stab at handicapping the three big events of All-Star Saturday night.

SLAM DUNK CONTEST

All predictions here must come with this caveat — they have changed the format this season to start with a freestyle round where everyone is dunking, then a series of head-to-head dunk “battles” to decide if the East or West wins. I have no idea how this will change the feel of the event and how the format will effect who wins it. That said, I’ll make a prediction anyway on who wins the “Dunker of the Night” as voted by the fans.

Favorite: Paul George, Indiana Pacers. There are three factors in his favor. First and foremost, the fans vote on the award and George is a popular budding superstar. This is a popularity contest to a degree. Second, he has done this before. George has been in the dunk contest and that matters because there is a distinct difference between an in-game dunk and an exhibition dunk and having done this before he should get it. Third, and most importantly, he can really throw it down.

Others at the front of the pack: Terrence Ross and John Wall. Ross won the Dunk Contest last year and did it without props — he knows how to win and we know he can throw down. Wall has the perfect combination of athleticism and showmanship to win the Dunk Contest, plus he is a name known by fans.

Dark Horse: Ben McLemore of the Kings. He was supposed to be the best shooter in the last draft but he has real hops and has shown some impressive dunks this year.

SKILLS CHALLENGE

Favorite: This is the hardest event to predict, but I’ll take Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns — he’s quick, he’s precise, and he grew up in a European system where they practiced the fundamentals more than most AAU coaches do stateside. Besides, the Suns deserve some recognition.

Others at the front of the pack: Watch out for the two rookies, Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke. This is the kind of event that traditionally goes to skilled guys who are quick with the ball, your Tony Parkers of the world, and these two guys are both quick and skilled.

Dark Horse: Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks… okay, I’m not sure he has a real shot at this, but I just want the Greek Freak to win.

THREE POINT CONTEST

Favorite: It’s got to be Stephen Curry. There are guys who have higher in-game shooting percentages but this is a contest about finding a groove and hitting big shots under pressure and nobody in the game right now does that better than Curry.

Others at the front of the pack: Really any of the guys in this group could get in a rhythm and win, but keep an eye on Marco Belinelli — he is knocking down 44.3 percent of his looks from beyond the arc this season, the highest percentage of anyone in the competition. Also don’t sleep on Kevin Love, who won this same competition two years ago and we know he can find a rhythm and win.

Dark Horse: I would say Kyle Korver, but somehow he isn’t there participating. I would say Klay Thompson, but somehow he isn’t there participating. You sense a theme here?

SATURDAY NIGHT’S BIGGEST WINNER

Kendrick Lamar.

He’s performing before the Slam Dunk Contest and he’s the only thing I know I’ll love all night.

source:

source:

Nets 103, Spurs 89: The Spurs were without their big four (no Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Kawhi Leonard) yet they led in the first half by as many as 12 because they are the Spurs and they run their system. But eventually talent wins out in the NBA and Brooklyn just had more of it — although Alan Anderson may not be the first name you think of in Brooklyn he had the hot hand and had 22 points on the night as the Nets pulled away in the second half for the win.

Warriors 102, Bulls 87: Out of the gate Golden State just was not ready for the hard charging, aggressive style of Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls — they only know how to play one way. But again, as in the Nets game, at some point talent wins out and Golden State has guys who can create on offense that the Bulls just do not — Stephen Curry had 36 points on the night as the Warriors came back to get the win. But it was closer and harder fought than the score indicates (the Warriors closed on an 11-2 run).

Latest Posts
  1. Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans leaves Game 1 with knee injury, MRI Sunday

    Apr 19, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One Getty Images

    He said after the game he felt a pop in his knee. That’s bad.

  2. James Harden and Dwight Howard show Mavericks what they’re missing in Rockets’ Game 1 win

    Apr 19, 2015, 12:45 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game One Getty Images

    Houston outscores Dallas by 14 in 10 minutes with Howard and Harden, get outscored by four otherwise in 118-108 win

  3. Dwyane Wade says he won’t opt out of current deal to become a free agent this summer

    Apr 18, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade has the ability to hit free agency, but is choosing to stay in Miami for at least one more season.

  4. Bradley Beal waves goodbye to Kyle Lowry after Lowry fouls out of Game 1 (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Bradley Beal AP

    The basketball was ugly, but this still may be a very competitive series.

  5. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on Wizards’ Paul Pierce: “We don’t give a sh-t about ‘It'”

    Apr 18, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

    Masai Ujiri AP

    Ujiri cusses at a playoff pep rally for the second straight year.

  6. PBT First Round Playoff Previews: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Apr 18, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    How do you feel about a lot of hack-a-Jordan for six or seven games?

  7. Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With most 2014 conference-finalists eliminated, Warriors are clear favorite

Featured video

Can Boston put a scare in Cleveland?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5597)
  2. C. Parsons (5495)
  3. D. Rose (5492)
  4. M. Conley (5140)
  5. P. George (5084)
  1. L. James (5055)
  2. S. Curry (4616)
  3. K. Bryant (4597)
  4. D. Howard (4525)
  5. T. Splitter (4507)