All Star Saturday Preview
February 16, 2019
Every year, several events precede the NBA All Star game. Some of the NBA’s top players, guards and big men alike, will show off their talent in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. The league’s best shooters will participate in the MTN DEW Three Point Contest. Finally, some of the top athletes in basketball will attempt to take the trophy home in the AT&T Dunk Contest. Here’s a look at what each of these events will have in store.
The first event of the night, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, features four backcourt players and four frontcourt players. This year’s Skills Challenge features Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, Mavericks guard/forward Luka Doncic, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Hawks guard Trae Young, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Magic center Nikola Vucevic. Both Jokic and Vucevic will play in the All Star game on Sunday, while Doncic, Young, Fox, Tatum and Kuzma all played in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, with Kuzma taking home Rising Stars MVP. Last year’s Skills Challenge winner, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, cannot participate this year due to injury. In the Skills Challenge, the big men will face off against each other in the initial rounds, while the guards will also face off against each other. In the final round, the winning guard will face the winning big man to determine who takes the trophy home.
After the Skills Challenge is the MTN DEW Three Point Contest. This year, ten players will compete instead of the usual eight. The same rules as every year apply: each shooter must shoot six shots from each of the five spots on the floor before the 60 second timer runs out. After each round, the three players with the highest score will move on to the finals. Whoever racks up the highest score in the finals is named the Three Point Contest champion. This year’s contestants include defending champion and Suns guard Devin Booker, Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry, Raptors guard Danny Green, Nets guard Joe Harris, Kings guard Buddy Hield, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Bucks guard Khris Middleton, Hornets guard Kemba Walker and Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki is currently in his 21st, and possibly final, season in the NBA with the Mavericks and was named as an honorary selection in the All Star game. Lillard, Walker, Middleton and Stephen Curry will also play in the All Star game.
The final event of the night, typically a fan favorite, is the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest. While the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest, featuring Magic forward Aaron Gordon and then-Timberwolves guard Zach Lavine, left fans around the world amazed with several impressive dunks, recent dunk contests have not lived up to expectations. This year’s contestants will look to turn that around, with three newcomers looking to make their mark in Dunk Contest history. This year’s Dunk Contest contestants include Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr., Hawks forward John Collins, Hornets forward Miles Bridges and Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo. Smith came in third place in last year’s Dunk Contest, but a lot of fans believe Smith should have won. Meanwhile, Collins showed off some of his explosiveness in the Rising Stars Challenge last Friday and will look to take home the crown for himself.
This year’s All Star Weekend has featured a lot of names. From Kyle Kuzma taking home the Rising Stars MVP to Quavo dropping 27 points in the All Star Celebrity game, the All Star festivities have pleaded fans so far. Hopefully, Saturday’s events will keep the fans happy.