The NBA All-Star Weekend 2009 in Phoenix is almost upon us. I’ve already discussed who I think (or thought at the time) should have been named All-Stars. Here are my final predictions for each of the main events (not including the celebrity game and D-League stuff).
Contestants: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City), Joe Johnson (Atlanta), OJ Mayo (Memphis)
Rules: Everyone should know the rules of HORSE. Players have to make the same shot as the player ahead of them or they get a letter. When they spell all the letters of HORSE, they’re out. Last man standing wins.
Prediction: A little unpredictable, being the first one and all. I’m going to have to go with OJ Mayo to take it out with an array of dazzling shots and trick lay-ups (no dunks allowed).
Haier Shooting Stars Contest
Thunder Dan is back!
San Antonio: Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Becky Hammon
Detroit: Arron Afflalo, Bill Laimbeer and Katie Smith
Los Angeles: Derek Fisher, Michael Cooper and Lisa Leslie
Phoenix: Leandro Barbosa, Dan Majerle and Tangela Smith
Rules: The teams have to make a variety of shots from all over the court, including: (1) 10-foot bank shot from the right; (2) 15-foot jumper from the left; (3) NBA 3-pointer from the top; (4), 18-foot shot from the right; (5) NBA 3-pointer from the left; (6) Half-court shot
Prediction: These things usually just come down to who can make the lucky half-court shot first, so it’s almost impossible to predict. If Tony Parker was playing I’d say San Antonio, but since he’s not, I’d have to go with the home team, Phoenix – can’t go wrong with Thunder Dan Majerle!
T-Mobile Rookie Challenge (Rookies/Sophmores Game)
Rookies: Michael Beasley (Miami), Rudy Fernandez (Portland), Marc Gasol (Memphis), Eric Gordon (LA Clippers), Brook Lopez (New Jersey), OJ Mayo (Memphis), Greg Oden (Portland), Derrick Rose (Chicago), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City)
Sophmores: Aaron Brooks (Houston), Wilson Chandler (New York), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City), Jeff Green (Oklahoma City), Al Horford (Atlanta), Luis Scola (Houston), Al Thornton (LA Clippers), Rodney Stuckey (Pistons), Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia)
Durant looks to dominate the Rookies
Rules: Two 20-minute halves, fouls kept but no player can foul out. 2-minute overtime periods if necessary.
Prediction: The Sophmores have won 6 years in a row, but if you take a look at the ridiculous Rookie roster, it’s hard to go against them. Can you imagine Rose and Westbrook slashing all over the court, OJ Mayo swishing jumpers from everywhere, Eric Gordon raining threes, Fernandez alley-ooping and Gasol, Lopez, Oden and Beasley anchoring the paint without being able to foul out? It’s going to be a sick game. Kevin Durant and Rodney Stuckey will dominate for the Sophmores, but I’ll have to go with the Rookies in an upset in a high scoring affair (win by roughly 5-10 points). Kevin Durant to be named MVP in a losing effort!
Playstation Skills Challenge
Contestants: Devin Harris (New Jersey), Tony Parker (San Antonio), Derrick Rose (Chicago), Mo Williams (Cleveland). NB: Williams replaced the injured Jameer Nelson.
Rules: Players are timed on an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing and shooting. The two players with the fastest times in the first round battle again in the final.
Prediction: I would love to see Derrick Rose win but maybe another year – Tony Parker Longoria to take it out in the final against Devin Harris.
Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout
Contestants: Mike Bibby (Atlanta), Daequan Cook (Miami), Danny Granger (Indiana), Jason Kapono (Toronto), Rashard Lewis (Orlando), Roger Mason (San Antonio)
Rules: Players have 60 seconds to shoot 5 racks of 5 balls from 5 spots around the 3-point line. Each ball is worth 1 point with the exception of the money ball in each rack, which is worth 2. The top 3 scores from the first round battle it out again in the final.
Prediction: I want Danny Granger to win something for Indiana (but in his first practice he only got 15) but would be happy if he makes it past the first round. The favourite still has to be 2-time defending champion Jason Kapono, so conventional wisdom tells me to go with him. But I expect Roger Mason and Daequan Cook to give him a run for his money and wouldn’t be surprised if Kapono chokes and someone else takes it from under him.
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
Rudy Fernandez was selected by the fans
Contestants: Rudy Fernandez (Portland), Dwight Howard (Orlando), Nate Robinson (New York), JR Smith (Denver). NB: Smith replaces the injured Rudy Gay.
Rules: Each contestant performs 2 dunks in the first round and the 2 with the highest scores battle it out in the final. In the event of a tie there will be a dunk off! Each contestant has 2 minutes to complete a dunk, and the first made dunk will be the one that counts. The first round is judged by judges but the final round combines the scores of judges and voting on NBA.com and text messaging.
Prediction: I originally went with the injured Rudy Gay, so now I have changed my vote to Rudy Fernandez. I just can’t see Dwight Howard repeating as it’s tough to outdo what he did last year. This really isn’t a big man’s contest. I expect the creative highlights to come from Fernandez and Smith with Nate Robinson missing a few. Regardless of the outcome, I just hope it can be as entertaining as last year.
East: Allen Iverson (Detroit), Dwayne Wade (Miami), Lebron James (Cleveland), Kevin Garnett (Boston), Dwight Howard (Orlando), Joe Johnson (Atlanta), Ray Allen (Boston), Danny Granger (Indiana), Paul Pierce (Boston), Mo Williams (Cleveland), Devin Harris (Orlando), Rashard Lewis (Orlando). Coach: Mike Brown (Cleveland). NB: Allen replaced the injured Jameer Nelson and Williams replaced the injured Chris Bosh.
West: Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers), Chris Paul (New Orleans), Tim Duncan (San Antonio), Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix), Yao Ming (Houston), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Shaquille O’Neal (Phoenix), Brandon Roy (Portland), Chauncey Billups (Denver), Pau Gasol (LA Lakers), David West (New Orleans), Tony Parker (San Antonio). Coach: Phil Jackson (LA Lakers).
Rules: No need to explain.
Can Wade win MVP?
Prediction: The more I think about it, the more I think the West should win. I mean, just take a look at the line-ups. I know the coaches don’t do much but Mike Brown is not the guy you would want at the helm if the game got tight. The last 3 years the winners have alternated conferences: 2006 East, 2007 West, 2008 East. Aren’t the West due this year?
However, I must stick with my original prediction. The Eastern Conference Team to down the Western Conference Team in a tight, see-sawing contest with a final margin of less than 7 points. Danny Granger for MVP! Just kidding. Dwayne Wade to win MVP by dominating down the stretch to prove that he is well and truly back. I’m also expecting Dwight Howard to have a monster game.