Kanye West and a handful of rappers (read Drake’s new mixtape dropping out of nowhere) may be stealing a lot of the thunder from this year’s All Star Weekend, but the festivities will keep us glued to the TV (and streaming sites) all the same. Of course the All Star game itself is one of the biggest draws, but the Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contests as well as the Celebrity and Rising Stars games are consistently some of the most entertaining NBA moments of the year.
Take a look below at our predictions for the weekend’s biggest events and who to watch out for in the Celebrity Game.
Slam Dunk Contest, Predicted Winner: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine might be the only 2014 draft pick competing in this year’s Dunk Contest, but he also might have the best chance at taking home the top prize as well. So far the Wolves guard has had a slow start to his NBA career but will aim to redeem himself in the Rising Stars game tonight. The 19-year old newcomer has a ways to go in the league, but his unrestrained athleticism is a perfect reason to bet on him tomorrow night.
Also keep a close eye on Giannis Antetokounmpo, known affectionately as “The Greek Freak,” a 6’11” dunker who has already put up some huge above-the-rim highlights in regular-season play this season. Together with Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo will likely give LaVine his biggest competition in the most-watched event of the weekend.
3-Point Contest, Predicted Winner: Steph Curry
This year’s 3-Point Contest is slated to bring out a handful of the league’s absolute best shooters with one of the strongest rosters of competitors the contest has seen in years. Of all the events scheduled for the weekend, the behind-the-arc throw-down might be the hardest to predict a winner for given just how closely matched the eight shooters are.
So, who’s gonna win? Steph Curry seems like the safest bet given his already-huge 2015 season. Last month, Curry broke a record as the fastest NBA player to reach the 1,000 3-point field goals milestone in just his 369th game. Still, facing off against Marco Belinelli, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden could never be considered an easy win.
All Star Game, Predicted Winner: East
Leading into the big game, a handful of player injuries have made headlines as Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, and Anthony Davis will all be watching from the sidelines (or with the rest of us on TV). Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony is currently listed as probable, and if he hits the court, he’ll play a big offensive role for the East.
While the Western conference has owned the league this year, that trio of West Coast injuries listed above will give the East a huge leg-up coming into the All Star Game. As always, expect a high-scoring game (well into the 100’s) and plenty of listless defense to match.
2015 NBA Celebrity Game, Who To Watch
Teams have yet to be announced for the upcoming NBA Celebrity Game, but a full list of the game’s participants has been made public. With that in mind, a few key players to watch:
- Kevin Hart has won the Celebrity Game MVP three times coming into tonight’s game. Keep an eye on Hart’s antics and handles through the night.
- Mo’ne Davis shook up the sports world last year as the standout pitcher for the Taney Dragons from Philadelphia. Davis has become an endearing celebrity ever since, and her skills on the court are apparently just as impressive as her pitching.
- Common has played in the Celebrity Game a handful of times since his debut on the stage in 2008. Count on the about-to-be 43-year old to put up some points for his team tomorrow.
- In a NBA All Star Celebrity Game first, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera will join the celebrities on the court. Pera played high-school basketball and practices regularly with some heavyweights himself.
2015 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, MVP Prediction
This year’s Rising Stars game is a “U.S. against everyone else” type of match-up as first and second-year American NBA players will face off against a group of international rising talent in the league. While there’s a small handful of standouts set to play, there’s an obvious front-runner for the game’s MVP Award in Canadian hooper Andrew Wiggins. Alongside the Timberwolves shooting guard, Rudy Gobert, Dennis Schroder, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are frontrunners for the MVP title.
As for which team will take home the victory? The “World Squad” looks incredibly strong and has the talent to pull off a double-digit victory in this year’s game.