2019 NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off tonight in Charlotte, and with the league’s biggest stars all in one place, there’s opportunity aplenty for fireworks.
Starting with the Celebrity Game through the All-Star contest on Sunday night, here are predictions for every single event, complete with the winning team and MVP or contest winner:
NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles
Winner: Away Team
This one is hard to gauge since there isn’t a scouting report for every celebrity on each team, but it’s hard to go against last year’s MVP, Migos’ Quavo, alongside one of the greatest shooters of all time, Ray Allen.
Someone to look out for on the opposing team is 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year, A’ja Wilson. Averaging 20.7 points and 8 rebounds per contest, it’s very possible that Wilson carries her team to victory. Also on the Home Team is Netflix’s Luke Cage actor, Mike Colter. There isn’t much said about his hoop game, but a bulletproof man should be feared on any street or hardwood.
MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars
Winner: Team World
MVP: Luka Doncic
There’s an immense amount of talent in this year’s Rising Stars game, where Team USA will take on Team World. Since the format change in 2015, Team World is 3-1 with their only loss coming in 2016, when Zach LaVine won the game’s MVP.
Spearheading Team World this year is Dallas Maverick dynamo, Luka Doncic and first-time All-Star Ben Simmons, which should be an enticing duo to say the least. Team World also has Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose ability to score in bunches helped him secure MVP in last year’s game.
Team USA isn’t short on depth though, with Utah’s second-year sensation, Donovan Mitchell, the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, and rookie standouts, Jaren Jackson Jr. and De’Aaron Fox as well.
Ultimately though, Team World has the two best players in Doncic and Simmons. Doncic may see more playing time with Simmons also appearing in Sunday’s game, making Luka the safe pick for this year’s Rising Stars MVP.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
Contestants: Mike Conley, Luka Doncic, De’Aaron Fox, Nikola Jokic, Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Trae Young
Winner: De’Aaron Fox
Expect De’Aaron Fox to continue his spectacular sophomore outing with a win in All-Star Saturday night’s opening event. The Skills Challenge requires accuracy and speed — which Fox has and then some. One of Fox’s biggest weaknesses is his long-range jumper, which he has shown huge improvement in this year. Even if he doesn’t hit the three on his first attempt, his speed can give him a big-enough margin to take his time on the last obstacle.
MTN DEW 3-Point Contest
Contestants: Devin Booker, Seth Curry, Stephen Curry, Danny Green, Joe Harris, Buddy Hield, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, Dirk Nowitzki, Kemba Walker
Winner: Stephen Curry
Don’t overthink this one. It’s Stephen Curry in his hometown of Charlotte, NC.
The three-point contest is tough to predict because in-game shooting doesn’t directly translate to a good score in the contest. From shooting under a time limit to picking each ball off a rack, the contestants will have to adjust in order to take home the trophy.
This contest features three former winners: reigning champion, Devin Booker, Curry and Dirk Nowitzki. Curry should ultimately put on a performance in front of his hometown, but the rounds leading up to his crowning should be dynamite as well.
AT&T Slam Dunk Contest
Contestants: Miles Bridges, John Collins, Hamidou Diallo, Dennis Smith Jr.
Winner: Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr. arguably had the best dunk of last year’s contest with a 360 between-the-legs stuff. Ultimately, the judges went with Donovan Mitchell in what was a great showing by the then-rookies.
Smith Jr.’s is now entering the contest as a New York Knick and has made himself comfortable in Gotham, putting up 31 points and 8 assists against the Pistons last week. Now that he’s repping NYC, we could see some more showmanship or cameos by Knicks legends.
Smith Jr. has to avoid an Aaron Gordon situation, which is showing out in your first contest only to disappoint the year after. All four contestants have unbelievable athleticism, but Smith Jr. has the experience to rise above the others this year.
68th NBA All-Star Game
Winner: Team LeBron
MVP: James Harden
2019 is the second year of the “captains” format and the first year the game’s draft was televised. This year’s vote-leaders were LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the former seeming to have the superior team.
Ben Simmons is the only first-time All-Star on Team LeBron, while Giannis has four first-timers: D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Jokic, Khris Middleton and Nikola Vucevic. Experience is on LeBron’s side, along with having three of the top five players in the league: James Harden, Kevin Durant and James himself.
It’s hard to deny a Giannis-and-Steph Curry tandem and the league is certainly thankful that these two are only teaming up for an exhibition game, but when it comes down to the wire, Team LeBron has more depth and likely pulls out the win with Harden receiving MVP honors.