NBA All-Star Weekend Preview
Everyone has been waiting for the second week in February, not because of Valentine's Day, but because it is the NBA All Star Weekend. This year it will be held in Houston, Texas, home of the Rockets. There are several exciting parts to the weekend. It kicks off on Friday with the Rising Stars game. This game is enjoyable to watch because it gives you a preview of what the league's stars will look like in only a few years. The events on Saturday night include the Shooting Stars contest, the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest and, of course, the Slam Dunk. The weekend finally concludes on Sunday with the NBA All-Star Game, a game that that features the top players in the world facing off head to head in a high scoring yet competitive game between the two conferences.
This is all very exciting, and I am sure most fans cannot wait to watch. I, for one, am one of those fans, so I put together my predictions for the NBA All Star Weekend.
The first event of the weekend is the Rising Stars game. However, the event has been altered this year in that it is no longer a game of rookies against sophomores. Instead, Shaquille O'Neill and Charles Barkley have drafted their own teams of rookies and sophomores to compete against one another. Looking at both rosters, I believe that team Shaq will wipe the floor with team Chuck. Shaq has a loaded team full of potential superstars. He drafted Damien Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and UConn's own Andre Drummond and Kemba Walker, just to name a few. The most notable players on Team Chuck include Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried, who are great players but not much of an offensive threat. Chuck also selected Rickey Rubio from the Timberwolves, but Rubio will be going up against Shaq's three-headed monster of a backcourt in Walker, Irving and Lillard. These games are controlled by guards, and Shaq has three very talented ones.
No, let's turn to Saturday night, where the first event is the "Shooting Stars Competition." This event features three players; one current NBA player, one former NBA player and one current WNBA player, trying to make a series of shots in the shortest amount of time. One of the shots is a half court shot. I believe this year's team to beat is Russell Westbrook, Maya Moore and Robert Horry. They should be the heavy favorite going into the event. Westbrook is arguably one of the best shooters in the competition, along with Chris Bosh and James Harden. But the real x-factors are Maya Moore and Big Shot Bob. They have a clear advantage over the rest of their field in their shot making ability. They are fantastic players and great pressure shooters, which makes them my pick.
Next up is the anticipated "Skills Challenge." This event tests the most talented point guards on their dribbling, passing and shooting ability, as they are timed in an obstacle course. I believe this year's two finalists will be the reigning champion Tony Parker and sensational rookie Damien Lillard. I would watch out for Lillard in this event. He is a novice who wants to prove himself. He may take the field by surprise.
As for the famous Three-Point Contest, my three favorites are the Hornets' Ryan Anderson, the Knicks' Steve Novak and San Antonio's "Red Rocket," Matt Bonner. I believe Novak is the best three-point sniper in the competition, but he uses his legs more in his release than someone like Bonner. He may get tired with the long rounds. Nevertheless, he is a professional, and I am going to stick with Steve Novak because he is one of the deadliest shooters in the sport.
We have finally come to the last contest on Saturday, the legendary "Slam Dunk." The participants are Jeremy Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Kenneth Faried, Gerald Green, Terrence Ross and James White. Obviously, these are not the biggest names in basketball but that is no reason to tune out. There are a couple amazing athletes and high flyers in this bunch that I for one am excited to watch. Evans is the reigning champion, but I would watch out for Kenneth Farried, also known as the "Manimal." He has been throwing down furious jams all season for his Nuggets. Also keep an eye out for the 2007 champion Gerald Green, who you might remember blew a cupcake candle out while dunking a ball a couple years ago. Green is a top-notch athlete with creativity, and he may steal a second Slam Dunk.
As for the All-Star Game, the West is seeking to repeat as champions this year. However, I believe the East will earn the victory, being led by their superstar, LeBron James. James is a two-time All-Star MVP, averaging 26 points in All-Star games, and he has been quite frankly unstoppable the last couple weeks. Who would have thought he could have had a better year than last year? He is going to take his hot streak of shooting over 60 percent from the field, while still getting 30 points into the break. We have learned that no one can stop him if he wants to take over, which makes him my clear favorite for this year's All-Star MVP.
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