NBA Skills Challenge: Mo Williams replaces Jameer Nelson

February 12, 2009 in Basketball, NBA

Mo Williams is now an All-Star and a Skills Challenge contestant

Mo Williams is now an All-Star and a Skills Challenge contestant

To me, the Playstation Skills Challenge at the NBA All-Star Weekend is a nice addition but honestly I wouldn’t complain too much if it wasn’t there.

This year’s contestants are: Devin Harris (New Jersey Nets), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs) and Mo Williams (Cleveland Cavaliers).  Williams replaced the injured Jameer Nelson (Orlando Magic).

I’d love to see Derrick Rose take this one out (because he’s just sick), but I have a feeling that veteran Tony Parker will rise to the occasion this time.

All-Star Weekend Update: new dunker, HORSE contestants announced

February 11, 2009 in Basketball, NBA

JR Smith to replace Rudy Gay in dunk contest
Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez

Well, it looks like I have to revise my predictions on the NBA Slam Dunk Contest for this year.  I had originally picked Rudy Gay to beat out defending champion Dwight Howard, former champ Nate Robinson and rookie Rudy Fernandez.  But now, Gay is out due to a strained left hip, and the man replacing him will be Denver Nugget JR Smith.

My revised prediction

Now I really don’t know what’s going to happen.  Smith had apparently competed before in 2005, but the fact that I can’t remember it must mean he didn’t do all that great.  Maybe he can surprise me this time.  I still can’t see Dwight Howard winning again – if he does it would be ultra impressive because it’s going to be damn near impossible to outdo his tricks from last year.  Nate Robinson?  Let’s see him make some dunks first.  So I would say now there are no favourites, it’s a wide open race, and I think both Fernandez and Smith will be dark horses.  Can you specify 2 dark horses in 4-man contest?  What the hell, I just did.

Rudy Fernandez to win with some creative dunks we haven’t seen before!

H-O-R-S-E contestants announced

The old game of H-O-R-S-E is the latest contest to be introduced to the All-Star Weekend.  The 3 contestants are: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), OJ Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies) and Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks).

For those that don’t know the rules: the game starts off with the first contestant, who can shoot a shot from anywhere in any way he wants.  If he makes it, the next player has to make the exact same shot.  If that player misses, he gets a letter (start off with ‘H’).  Players will be eliminated when they spell out the entire 5-letter word HORSE.  The last man standing wins.  In the NBA version of the game, there are no dunks allowed and players have 24 seconds to complete each shot.

My prediction

OJ Mayo

OJ Mayo

I’m very excited about this new HORSE contest.  Everyone that has played basketball has probably played HORSE before, but not everyone has the skill of NBA players, especially the likes of these guys.  I’m expecting to see some outrageous shots, some unbelievable trick shots, some funny shots.  I just hope they don’t try too hard and end up missing them all.

It’s hard to predict a winner because I’ve only seen these contestants in games, and I don’t really know what their trick shot repertoires are like.  So I’m going with gut instinct and will say the youngster OJ Mayo will take out the first ever HORSE trophy!

(I have heard that Durant has been so busy that he hasn’t had time to practice, and Joe Johnson seems a little more old school to me, so that may also have something to do with my pick)

NBA 3-Point Shootout Contestants Announced!

February 5, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA

Granger takes aim

Granger takes aim

 3P Shootout Contestants Announced!

Danny Granger’s going to have a busy All-Star Weekend this year.

The first time All-Star (of the Indiana Pacers) will also be competing in his maiden Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout against two-time defending champion Jason Kapono (Toronto Raptors), Mike Bibby (Atlanta Hawks), Daequan Cook (Miami Heat), fellow All-Star Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic) and Roger Mason (San Antonio Spurs).

The Three-Point Shootout has always been one of my favourite events at the All-Star Weekend and it will be great to see Granger showing off his long-range skills against the best in the league.  I’m rooting for him to take the title that Reggie Miller came agonizingly close to a couple of times, but Granger is definitely a favourite to go out in the first round judging from guys he’s up against.

Analysis

Let’s compare the contestants’ 3 point statistics so far this year.

Player (Games)

3PM

3PA

3P%

PPG

Bibby (47)

 114

279 

0.409

15.9

Cook (45)

 105

256 

0.410

10.3

Granger (45)

 120

299 

0.401 

25.5

Kapono (48)

 52

124 

0.419 

  7.9

Lewis (47)

 137

327 

0.419 

19.0

Mason (48)

 103

229 

0.450 

11.9 

 
The 3P Shootout is always a bit of an unpredictable affair in that game stats don’t necessarily translate to success in this type of continuous shooting format.  You’ve got the 2-time defending champion Jason Kapono who has only made about half the 3PMs of the next guy on the list.  You’ve got Roger Mason, who’s shooting at an impressive 0.450 (5th in the league and the only player in the top 20 for 3P% that has over 100 3PM) but has never really been a great 3P shooter before this season.  There’s the man who has shot more and made more than any other player, Rashard Lewis.  Then there’s the guys that rely significantly on their 3-point shot to get their points, Mike Bibby and Daequan Cook.  Lastly, there’s Danny Granger, who sticks out a little more than the others because he scores so many points and the 3-point shot is just part of his repertoire.

My Pick

Can Jason Kapono make it 3 in row?

Can Jason Kapono make it 3 in a row?

With this field of amazing shooters, anything can happen.  Especially if a streaky shooter gets hot, it could be all over for everyone else. 

The guys that tend to do well are rhythm shooters who can launch the balls consecutively and effortlessly.  The guys who struggle are those who take a long time to set their shots and have slow, methodical releases. 

While I would like to see Granger take it out, he’s just not enough of a 3P specialist yet – the only chance he would have is if he gets hot and his opponents struggle.  I’d have to say Kapono, with his experience, remains the strong favourite.  Roger Mason would be next in line, and Daequan Cook would be the dark horse.