With the true NBA All-Star festivities kicking off tonight (let’s be honest, no one cares about the Rising Stars Challenge), let’s try some predictions for the winners (and MVP) of the events.
Big men have started to take over this event in recent years, and with Nikola Jokic participating there’s a real shot the guards walk away empty again. De’Aaron Fox will have to be considered, as he is the self-proclaimed “fastest guy in the NBA”, and Jayson Tatum is oozing with talent. Nevertheless, anything Luka Doncic touches turns to gold, and he seems to have displayed the best combination of skills out of this field of contestants.
Winner: Luka Doncic
The contest expanded this year to 10 players from eight in previous years, so any potential winner will have a tougher road than their predecessors. Devin Booker is back to defend his 2018 title and Steph Curry is Steph Curry, but there are multiple guys participating who have been red-hot this year: Joe Harris (47.1 3P%), Seth Curry (46.5 3P%), Buddy Hield (44.9 3P%), and of course Steph. It feels wrong in every way to bet against Steph in anything that involves shooting, and seeing as how he is both knocking down over 44 percent of his three balls and playing in his hometown, I’m going to make myself feel good.
Winner: Steph Curry
Slam Dunk Competition (official name: 2019 AT&T Slam Dunk….?)
Listen, no disrespect to the other three contestants, but Miles Bridges is by far the best dunker in this year’s field, and one of the best I have seen (and he’s only a rookie). I feel something every time he slams it home, and his ability to so casually throw it down in game from all angles and speeds shows both his crazy athleticism and comfortability. And, since he’s a rookie, his young mind should be creative enough to find him some ways to woo the crowd. And oh yeah; he also happens to play for the home team.
Winner: Miles Bridges
Let’s focus first on which team is going to win. Obviously both teams are supremely talented, but you gotta remember that the ASG is not like a regular NBA game. In an event where defense and hustle are set at a minimum, shooting and high-flyers excel, and both of those are areas in which Team Giannis has the edge. In a regular game, I would take Team LeBron, as they have more players with higher basketball IQs and stronger defense, but Team Giannis has the shooting to carry it through a high-scoring game as well as the stupid athleticism to amaze the fans. Expect another low-defense outing, one that favors the Greek Squad (and they even have Russell Westbrook, ASG-extraordinaire).
Winner: Team Giannis
But what about the MVP of the game? They can come from either team, so we don’t have to limit ourselves in this search. As mentioned above, Westbrook is a perennial ASG MVP candidate, and his teammate Paul George has been tearing up the league lately. Anthony Davis will be interesting to watch due to a healthy dose of circumstances, and he is also tied with LeBron for the highest ASG scoring average in NBA history (24.5 PPG). Nikola Jokic has the skills and the affable attitude, but his lack of athleticism may hinder him in this pursuit. In the end, it comes down to the guy who has put everyone on skates for over a year now, a guy who far-and-away leads the league in scoring: James Harden. With his passing, handles and insane shooting, he can easily walk away with this hardware.
MVP: James Harden