The Celtics have officially hit the All-Star break, and at a league’s best 41-9 by the way. As promised here are a few quick thoughts about all of the festivities that take place during NBA All-Star Weekend. (Note: I am going to keep it regarding on the court activities, and not try to guess the next Adam “Pacman” Jones, although that could be fun too.) There are technically 6 different events, but I am only going to talk about 5, because the “shooting stars” is a waste of time for everyone involved. The schedule really gets going Friday night with the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge. You think we might see the D-Wade/ Barkley commercial a few times this weekend?
Rookie Challenge: The rookie roster (in order they were drafted this year): Kevin Durant (2nd), Al Horford (3rd), Mike Conley (4th), Jeff Green (5th), Yi Jianlian (6th), Sean Williams (17th), Juan Carlos Navarro (40th), Luis Scola (56th), and Jamario Moon (undrafted).
The roster starts out true to form with 5 of the top 6 players from this past June’s draft with the notable omission of the injured Greg Oden. After that you can start to see where teams may have stumbled in the draft. Just because you don’t make the rookie game after 50 games of your career doesn’t mean you won’t be a solid player, but chances are you won’t be on the team that drafted you. As a Celtics fan I thought Glen Davis would find his way on this team (before he hurt his knee last night), but I can’t take anyone of this list.
Sophomore team: Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Daniel Gibson, Paul Millsap, Andrea Bargnani, Jordan Farmer, and Ronnie Brewer.
Busy weekend for Gay (dunk), Gibson (3 point), and Roy (All-Star). It’s not going to matter as the sophomores always win this game, and usually big. I expect the same. Prediction: Sophomores
Skills Challenge: Jason Kidd (who knows what jersey he’ll be wearing), Dwayne Wade (Who’s in your 5?), Deron Williams, and Chris Paul.
Williams is the only one making his first appearance in this skills game, and is the only one not playing in the game on Sunday. Kidd and Wade have both won it in the past. Not sure how you pick a winner here, but I’ll go with one of the best players from the first half. Prediction: Chris Paul.
Three Point Shootout: Jason Kapono (defending champ), Peja Stojakovic (2-time champ), Steve Nash, and 3 first timers in Kobe Bryant, Rip Hamilton, and Daniel ‘Boobie’ Gibson.
Pretty good cast here featuring 3 All-Stars. I’m interested to watch Kobe in action in this event. I think Boobie and Rip both struggle in their first competition. In the end I think Kapono defends his crown, and earns some of that money he got to go to Canada. Prediction: Jason Kapono
Slam Dunk Contest: Gerald Green (defending champion), Dwight Howard, and 2 first timers in Rudy Gay and Jamario Moon.
Gerald is still in the league? Or did they just ask him back as the defending champ? Could he be the first player to win both the NBA and D-League slam dunk contest? Some people around here were reluctant to include Green in the KG deal. I’m not sure he’ll even be in the league when his contract runs out. With all that said, he can dunk, and that’s the point on Saturday night. Dwight Howard wants to move the hoop up to 12 feet. Why not let him? His height is going to once again hurt him. Gay has had some unbelievable in game dunks this year, and no one is really talking about him in this. Prediction: Rudy Gay
Sunday’s All-Star Game:
East Starters: Jason Kidd (how does this work if he’s in Dallas?), Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett (Doc will make a decision here), and Dwight Howard.
Reserves: Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Joe Johnson, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler (injured), Rasheed Wallace (replacement), and Ray Allen (replacement).
West Starters: Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, and Yao Ming.
Reserves: Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, David West, Brandon Roy, Carlos Boozer, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Really not sure what the deal is with Jason Kidd, but point guard play goes a long way in these games and with Nash and Paul running the show for the West I like their chances. Similar teams from 2007 and I think its going to be a similar result. Prediction: West
I am looking forward to all of these events, and a great second half of the NBA season, particularly in the Western Conference.