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In the NBA’s 75th season, the All-Star game was filled with cool moments, incredible highlights, and even a little defense. Emphasis on little. Unfortunately, there was some injury news that came out that could have an impact on fantasy hoops, so let’s break that down before we dive into the game and weekend.
The big news was that Chris Paul was diagnosed with an avulsion fracture in his right thumb and will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks. The earliest he could return to action would be early April, so the clear add for the rest of the season is Cameron Payne, who is rostered in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues. Payne hasn’t played since January 22nd, but he should be the starting point guard when he’s healthy. Some other possible adds to fill the void of CP3 are Aaron Holiday and Elfrid Payton, who are both readily available in Yahoo! leagues. Neither have been great fantasy assets this year, but Holiday has provided 17th round value over the past two weeks. That could go up with an increase in minutes. He had nine points and six assists in 20 minutes in their most recent game.
Donovan Mitchell missed the All-Star Game with an illness, but the Jazz don’t play until Friday, so he shouldn’t miss any games for fantasy managers.
Draymond Green, who was working as a sideline reporter on the TBS broadcast, revealed that he’s hoping to be back in three to four weeks. Green hasn’t suited up for the Warriors since January 5th.
The future of the James family
One of the most interesting stories from All-Star Weekend interviews was LeBron James’ declaration that he intends to play with whatever team drafts his son, Bronny James. One last ride with whoever takes a chance on his oldest child, then he’ll retire. That’s one way to make him a first round pick. Bronny is currently ranked 43rd on ESPN’s Class of 2023 rankings. Obviously a lot could change over the next few years, but as of now, Bronny isn’t projected as a first round talent. But if you’re getting a one- year rental of LeBron, that changes a lot. Will a contending team take the package deal to try and elevate their championship odds? Or will a rebuilding team take him to have LeBron try and help their team build a winning culture? How much would a team be willing to give up to trade up and nab Bronny? It’ll be an interesting situation to monitor.
All-Star Game recap
As for the actual All-Star Game, Team LeBron defeated Team Durant 163-160, and Stephen Curry took home the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player award after scoring 50 points and hitting 16 3-pointers. As you may have guessed, the triples were an All-Star Game record, while he fell two points shy of tying Anthony Davis’ scoring record from 2017. Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t repeat his perfect performance from last year’s game, but he still finished with a 30/12/6/3/1 line of 15-of-21 shooting. Nikola Jokic almost came away with a triple-double, because of course he did. He finished with 10 points, nine boards, and eight assists. LeBron James had to show out in his home state of Ohio with 24 points, six rebounds, eight dimes, and the game-winner. The bench featured a pair of Cleveland Cavaliers that were playing in front of their home crowd. Darius Garland finished with 13 points, while Jarrett Allen had 10 points and nine rebounds. Both were playing in their first All-Star Game.
As for Team Durant, Joel Embiid may have been named MVP of the game if they had won the game. He finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds on 14-of-20 shooting. Trae Young also finished with a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. This was his second All-Star Game, and he also had a double-double in his first. Off the bench, Devin Booker added 20 points, five rebounds, and a game-high four steals. Zach LaVine scored 12 points in 11 minutes. LaVine missed the Bulls’ last three games before the break, but received both a PRP injection and a cortisone that should get him through the rest of the season. A pair of first-time All-Stars rounded out a majority of the scoring for Team Durant, as LaMelo Ball and Dejounte Murray finished with 18 and 17 points apiece.
The Elam Ending has revived the All-Star Game, at least for that fourth quarter. For those who don’t know what that means, in order to win a game with an Elam Ending, you have to hit a target score. The first three quarters are played like a normal, 12-minute quarter game. Whatever the higher score is at the end of the third quarter, you add 24 points to that, in honor of the late, great Kobe Bryant. That becomes the target score. The target score for this game was 163, which LeBron hit with his turnaround jumper. This format always results in a game-winning shot, and teams don’t try to milk the clock because they still have to score. I don’t know if this would be good for regular season or playoff games, but it’s definitely a blast in the All-Star Game.
All-Star Weekend Ideas
In Zak Hanshew’s Daily Dose yesterday, he recapped the All-Star Saturday night events, and provided some of the history of the weekend. After one of the worst dunk contests potentially ever, the league needs to revamp. They’ve had no problem giving every other event a makeover (it worked out really, really well for the Rising Stars Game!), and it’s time for them to change the dunk contest. And no, we don’t want the dunk contest teams they tried in 2014. So, here’s some of the best ideas that I’ve seen or heard.
- Make the 3-point contest last. The dunk contest has been the final event forever because it’s supposed to bring the night home. But it hasn’t done that the past few years. It’s time that it’s dethroned for the more consistent event. With how important the 3-point shot is, the amount of stars that participate, and how consistently exciting it is, the 3-point contest should be the final event of the night.
- King of the Court. Inspired by this Team USA practice, the NBA should introduce this challenge. It likely won’t be as intense as a practice would be, but it would be fun to watch. I can’t imagine many of the older stars would participate, but seeing a handful of guys compete for a cash prize or charity money could make this the most competitive event the weekend has seen in years.
- Increase dunk contest reward money. How much would it take to make Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon give it another go? How much is enough to get guys like Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards in the contest? Whatever the number is, the league needs to figure it out.
Here’s a few more from Twitter, that are a little more creative, but would obviously be a blast.
- Shooting contest: This is the perfect contest to compliment the league’s growth. With the way Steph, Trae, and Damian Lillard have expanded the game to well past the 3-point line, we should get a whole contest centered around deep, deep shots.
- NBA/NFL swap: Okay, so this wouldn’t actually happen. But, it would be fun! Myles Garrett had a solid dunk in the celebrity game, so seeing some of the most athletic guys in the NFL compete for the flashiest would give the event new life. We won’t have the expectations for dunkers that we do for NBA guys. A 360 windmill is something some players can do on a fastbreak in a game. But it would bring the house down if an NFL player did it. As for the Pro Bowl, don’t we want to see what some NBA players can do? Jalen Suggs was the best football player in the state of Minnesota his senior year, and LeBron was an elite receiver. Nobody plays hard in the Pro Bowl, so it wouldn’t be an injury risk. It won’t happen, but the hype behind it would be real.
- Every team dunk contest: This would definitely have teams sending out their best dunker and forcing them to set aside ample time to practice. The stakes may be a bit too high for the NBA to consider, but it would make for a fun dunk contest. The MLB All-Star Game used to determine who got home field advantage in the World Series, so that’s another possibility. Each conference sends out two or three dunkers, and the winning conference gets home court during the NBA Finals.
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All-Star Game Top Plays
Of course, the best part of the All-Star Game is the highlights. So, I ranked the top eight plays from this year’s All-Star Game. Feel free to disagree.
8. Devin Booker fake rip through on CP3
This obviously wasn’t really a highlight, but it was a very funny moment. Chris Paul only played two minutes, but Booker made sure to use CP3’s infamous, foul-drawing move on him. It would’ve been a bit better if he hit the shot.
7. LaMelo through the legs pass
This may have been a bit cooler if he hadn’t done this in a regular season game, but it shows that LaMelo’s game translates seamlessly into an exhibition like this. He’s one of the most entertaining players in the league, and it’ll be fun to watch him in this game for at least the next 10 years.
This was just beyond unexpected. It was set up by a nice pass from Dejounte Murray, which was a bonus. This was for everyone who thinks Gobert is just a boring player and shouldn’t be an All-Star.
An impressive slam from the big man. He did this off of a drive, which makes it even harder to do. A little cleaner, and it may have been a bit higher.
This had every NBA fan reminiscing about when the dunk contest was at its peak. LaVine made this look easy, but he always does.
3. Trae Young to Ja Morant reverse alley-oop
What a way for Morant to make his All-Star Game introduction. There were bound to be some highlights with these two on the same team, but this wasn’t even their best connection.
2. Trae Young to Ja Morant 360 alley-oop
The half-court pass. The 360 dunk. This was what All-Star Games were made for. Hopefully we’ll keep getting these two drafted to the same All-Star team, because they put on a show.
1. Stephen Curry MVP performance 3-pointers
Okay, so maybe this was cheating a little bit. But the shots Steph was hitting were out of this world. Only one man on this planet can turn around on a half-court three. One.