It’s All Star Weekend , one of the great celebrations in sports, so rather than wait until tomorrow with an All Star Game column, I wanted to jump in a little early to chime in on some of the skills competitions tonight. Depending upon how old you are, you likely have very different views on the Slam Dunk Contest. It’s not for everyone, but even for people like me who pine for the Jordan/Nique memories of early childhood, there is still some intrigue and magic contained in the NBA’s halcyon even of the late 80’s and 90’s.
And I don’t care what age you are, if you like basketball and you aren’t excited to see Steph, Klay, Kyle Korver and company try to dethrone Marco Belinelli tonight, there is something seriously wrong with you. Get to a doctor quickly.
ALL STAR BREAKDOWN:
Steph Curry is the early odds-on-favorite at Bovada, but keep in mind Curry has been in this event in the past to no avail. Klay Thompson has a quicker release and is better suited for a contest like this. Wesley Matthews is the leading three point shooter in the West statistically and he can be had at a nice 19/2. I’ll lean Klay at 15/4, but like Matthews as a nice sleeper. I’d stay away from Reddick, who doesn’t have near the accuracy in the NBA that his college reputation forged.
Everyone seems to love the bouncy rookie Zach Levine, who seems to exist in the NBA solely for this contest at this point, but I’ll take some value in the explosive and creative Greek Freak. The whole four-dribble length of the floor, one-step inside the foul line dunk in actual game play still has me reeling. There seems to exist the possibility this guy could draw up something simply unseen and steal the crown. Plus, at the second-longest odds at +275 he gives a nice value. Lavine isn’t so famous that he will get the nod in a close contest, making Oladipo and Giannis intriguing value plays.
Look, wagering on All-Star Games is for ENTERTAINMENT and should be treated as such. No one is going to guard anyone. There is no real strategy or analysis available or necessary. It’s more for fun, so be responsible.
OK, PSA concluded, let’s talk about the Pro’s for each side.
The Eastern Conference has three big things going for it, as well as a few smaller possible plusses. First, they are at home. That tends to matter in All Star Games, though it is by no means conclusive. Plus, you throw in the Vegas All-Star game with no real home team (unless Sacramento is on their way…) and it muddies the water a bit. However, the East is home this weekend.
Second, the East has LeBron James. Nuff’ said. Third, they have Melo. Yes, he is hurt, but it is his hometown event and as the unofficial host and a longtime International standout, that could play a small role.
Other things I like about the East is the lengthy list of younger emerging stars still looking to make their name. John Wall, Kyrie Irving and the quartet of Hawks are all new or relatively new-er to the festivities. Perhaps that gives them an edge.
But the West has something I like even more going for them. An overwhelmingly BETTER ROSTER. It is ridiculous to even put the Hawks players, Pau Gasol and the fragile East roster in the same class as the ridiculous talent stockpiled in the West. Their 12th man, who needed TWO injury replacements to get the nod, Damian Lillard, I’d take over Kyrie and probably over John Wall. And the stable of bigs out West is ridiculous. Let’s put it this way, Pau was out West for five or six years and he wouldn’t be an All Star this season if not for the move to Chi-town.
There’s not much rhyme or reason to these games, but the West is better so I’ll take them. The East has injuries to Wade and Melo, and LeBron, Kyrie and Pau ALL played Thursday night, the only two teams to do so, so they may have their minutes a little more tightly governed. The east could flourish for brief stretches if they let all four Hawks play together to infuse the game with the only few minutes of basketball-resembling defense/offense, but overall, give me the insane stable of talent out West.