The NBA has announced the names of the players invited to the five events that will take place in the days leading up to the NBA All-Star Game. The group includes an intriguing bevy of young talent and established stars, with one familiar name even participating in the six events the NBA will showcase throughout the weekend.
With just about every name under the sun being leaked by the media in the hours leading up to the announcement of the participants in the NBA’s All-Star weekend events, the draft behind the Rising Stars Challenge Game was a nice change of pace.
Team general managers and Turner Sports analysts Chris Webber and Grant Hill were allowed to pick seven participants from a pool including first and second year players, and a “blind draft” was instituted to select the final four names so as to avoid embarrassing a potential Mr. Irrelevant selection after all other names were called out. Webber chose first, followed by two selections by Grant Hill, and the two traded off after that.
In draft order, here is the roster for Team Webber:
1. Anthony Davis
2. Michael Carter-Williams
3. Tim Hardaway Jr.
4. Trey Burke
5. Jared Sullinger
6. Mason Plumlee
7. Victor Oladipo
8. Steven Adams
9. Kelly Olynyk
And now the roster for Team Hill:
1. Damian Lillard
2. Bradley Beal
3. Andre Drummond
4. Harrison Barnes
5. Terrence Jones
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo
7. Jonas Valanciunas
8. Dion Waiters
9. Pero Antic
In all, this does seem like an evenly-matched set of rosters. These Friday night games devolve into basically an alley-oop contest sometime in the second quarter, and Team Hill only really has one true point guard – but they boast the best point guard of the bunch in All-Star Damian Lillard. Webber’s team can toss out two point men in both Michael Carter-Williams (the odds-on favorite to supplant Lillard as the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year) and Trey Burke, alongside two combo guards with handle in Tim Hardaway Jr. (strangely, taken just ahead of Burke by Webber), and Victor Oladipo.
The recipient of the alley-oops will likely be big man cornerstones Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond. Webber had a chance to corner the big man market by selecting Drummond with is second pick, but he chose to select a lead man in MCW instead. Things went according to plan for the next few picks, only slightly getting out of hand when Grant Hill inadvertently protested the blind drafting of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters, who is known for his poor shot selection and attitude.
We won’t bother you with a prediction, other to say that the contest will be good enough viewing for most based on the typical fare you’d see on basic cable on a Friday night in February.
The Shooting Stars contests features current NBA players, retired NBA notables, and a current WNBA player taking turns missing half-court shots and set shots from the corner.
The rosters this year include:
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Elena Delle Donne
The inclusion of the father/son combos for Team Hardaway and Team Curry mark the first time the NBA has included a father/son lineup in the history of this made-up game that very few people watch.
The Skills Challenge presents an obstacle course for talented ballhandlers to work their way through. Some of them appear to enjoy it.
The participants this year include:
Because of its consistency, and the fact that watching players chuck away from 25 feet while a clock winds down, the Three-Point Contest has stood the test of time for 30 years. Participants this year include:
The Slam Dunk Contest is shaping up, on paper at least, to be one of the best we’ve seen in years. Whether or not the participants can come up with anything new and fresh this year is up to the bounders, but at the very least the league’s showcase Saturday event is entertaining viewing even when the stuffs aren’t falling.
Here are the contestants:
If you’ve noticed, Damian Lillard will be taking part in every single contest from Friday through Sunday night. This is absolutely unprecedented, and though he has the young legs to work his way through without fear of overextending, it is worth wondering if he could pull off a clean sweep.
As a ball-dominating point guard, Lillard has the talent to drive and dish his way to MVP awards in both the Rising Stars and All-Star Game. He certainly has the all-around touch in place to take the Skills Challenge, he’s third in the NBA in three-pointers made (140) and is shooting 40 percent from long range on the year, and though the Dunk Contest may be his weakest link, little guys have surprised us before.
In all, a solid lineup, and fine work done by both the NBA and Turner analysts Webber and Hill in putting things together. Hopefully next week’s All-Star weekend follows through on its promise.
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