The NBA All-Star Weekend is among us again as Chicago hosts the league's star showpiece. There will be plenty happening with the Three-Point Contest, Dunk Contest and the All-Star Game set to light up the weekend. We have a full preview and betting tips here.
Contestants: Joe Harris, Devin Booker, Devonte' Graham, Davis Bertans, Buddy Hield, Trae Young, Zach LaVine, Duncan Robinson
Joe Harris is back to defend his title in a relatively inexperienced field for this year's Three-Point Contest. Favourite Damien Lillard is a late scratching after injuring his groin on Thursday in the Trail Blazers’ loss to Memphis, and he has been replaced by Devin Booker who won the contest back in 2018. Booker and Harris are the only previous winners in this year’s field. The contest has had a slight change up, with two extra balls worth three points, positioned six feet behind the three point line. With the two extra balls, the round has been extended to seventy seconds from the previous sixty second rounds.
With Damian Lillard’s late withdrawal this looks like a two-horse race between Devin Booker and Trae Young. Booker is shooting 38.5 percent from three point land this season, whilst Trae Young is shooting 36.9 percent from deep. With the addition of the two deep balls, these two are the best long range shooters in this group, with both of these players being first time All-Stars this season, they will have plenty to show.
With Booker’s original snubbing from the All-Star team, he will be looking to send a statement to the league this weekend in what has been a fantastic season for him as he has started to drag Phoenix out of the bottom of the league standings. The experience he has as a previous winner will be important in such an inexperienced field. Expect Booker to come out all guns blazing.
Contestants: Aaron Gordon, Dwight Howard, Derrick Jones Jr, Pat Connaughton
An intriguing field in this year’s dunk contest is headlined by Aaron Gordon’s return to the contest for the first time since 2017, the year before Gordon finished as a runner up to Zach Lavine in Toronto in one of the greatest dunk contests of all time. 2008 champion Dwight Howard is a shock returner to the competition whilst Derrick Jones Jr. gets his second crack at the contest after finishing as runner up in 2017. Milwaukee Buck’s Pat Connaughton makes his contest debut.
We are unsure what we will see from Pat Connaughton and Dwight Howard. Connaughton is an explosive in-game dunker, but that doesn’t always translate to the dunk contest, and does Dwight still have the athleticism to compete? It looks to be a two-man contest between Gordon and Jones Jr. Gordon in 2016 was arguably the most unlucky runner up in the history of the contest, his performance that night would have won any contest. Whilst Jones Jr. has been arguably the best dunker in the NBA in the last few seasons as time and time again he has exploded above the rim to complete some mind boggling dunks. With the experience of 2017 under his belt, he should be well prepared to perform this year.
Gordon will be fired up to show that 2016 wasn’t a fluke and reportedly he’s got plenty of dunks in his arsenal that we haven’t seen before, so this is going to be exciting. Gordon has been one of the unluckiest competitors in the history of the contest, so we think this year he is going to put that to bed and finally win his first dunk contest.
Team LeBron: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Domantas Sabonis, Devin Booker
Team Giannis: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Khris Middleton, Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert, Kyle Lowry, Brandon Ingram, Donovan Mitchell
A new format for this year’s All-Star contest with three seperate ‘games’ in the first three quarters, before the aggregate margin of the first three quarters will be added to 24 to make the final target score, in a tribute to Kobe Bryant.
Team LeBron has won the first two games since the changing of All-Star teams, and again it looks like LeBron has the stronger team. It will be interesting to see if this new format creates a more competitive game. It likely won’t for the first three quarters, but with a target score at the end with a definite game winner, you can guarantee it will be extremely competitive at the end of the game.
It’s always hard to predict the results of the All-Star games as they are usually lightly played exhibition matches. LeBron has the more talented side, and has the ultra competitive players of Russell Westbrook and James Harden who always look to ball out in these games. Team LeBron should get the victory in this year’s game.
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