NBA’s All-Star Weekend (ASW) is in full swing
New York Salt Lake City, it’s Saturday Night! Starting at 8 p.m. ET on TNT in the U.S. and Sportsnet One in Canada, settle in to watch the NBA’s best show off their most impressive moves. Basketball may be a team sport, but All-Star Saturday night is when individuals get to shine bright like a diamond.
The skills challenge: Featuring three teams battling it out in three rounds of competition (team relay, team passing, team shooting), it’s giving the most competitive high school gym class you’ve ever seen.
- Team Antetokounmpo (pronounced ah-det-oh-KOON-boh), is made up of (an injured) Giannis (pronounced YAHN-iss) and his two brothers, Thanasis (pronounced tha-NAH-siss) and Alex.
- Team Jazz includes Utah players Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler and Collin Sexton.
- And Team Rookies boasts Orlando Magic ’s Paolo Banchero, Detroit Pistons’ Jaden Ivey and the Houston Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr.
Three-point contest: Each of the event's eight contestants have 70 seconds to drain as many three-pointers as possible. There are five main shooting locations from beyond the arc, with different balls worth different amounts of points. The three highest scorers advance to the championship round.
- Reigning champion Minnesota Timberwolf Karl-Anthony Towns did not make the cut this year, but Indiana Pacer Buddy Hield is looking to regain his 2020 title.
Slam dunk contest: Only four players — Kenyon Martin Jr. (Houston Rockets), Mac McClung (Philadelphia 76ers), Trey Murphy III (New Orleans Pelicans), and Jericho Sims (NY Knicks) — were selected for this two-round competition.
- Each player performs two dunks per round in front of a panel of five All-Star judges, including icon Lisa Leslie. Every judge scores each dunk from 40 to 50 and the average of the five judges’ scores determine the individual dunk score.
- The two highest combined average scorers from the first round advance to the second, where the process is repeated to crown a champion.
⭐ The All-Star Game
After all that fun, it’s time for Sunday’s main course: the All-Star Game at 8 p.m. ET, on TNT in the U.S. and TSN4 in Canada. This year’s 24 All-Stars were selected through a combination of fan, player, coach and media voting. The All-Stars are also broken up into 10 starters and 14 reserves.
- Of those starters, two captains were selected: the aforementioned Giannis repping the East and LeBron James helming the West.
- As captains, LeBron and Giannis will take turns drafting from the pool of the remaining 22 players right before the game. First, they select from the eight starters, and then from the 14 reserves.
- It’s important to note that conference affiliation does not matter during the draft process.
Most notably, the ASG isn’t like a regular NBA game. Yes, they play four quarters; however, a “target score” comes into play in the fourth quarter.
Each team will compete to win each of the three first quarters, all of which last 12 minutes and start with a 0–0 score. At the beginning of the fourth, there is no game clock, and the teams play until one reaches the Final Target Score.
- The Final Target Score is set by taking the leading team’s total cumulative score and adding 24 points (representing the late Kobe Bryant’s jersey number that he wore in the final 10 seasons of his NBA career).
- For example, if the cumulative score is 130–100 heading into the fourth quarter, the first team to get to 154 points wins the game.
🏀 Players to watch
Finally, we have to talk about who to watch, and who won’t be there. This is LeBron’s 19th All-Star appearance. In fact, he’s tied with Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most selections ever. Feels…familiar. This is LeBron’s sixth straight year as captain and his All-Star teams are undefeated when he’s in charge. *Gulps in Greek*
- Speaking of Greece, Giannis won’t be easily intimidated. The seven-time All-Star was named captain in 2019 and 2020, and while his teams may not have beaten LeBron’s, they came pretty close.
- Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention league-leading scorer Luka Dončić from the Dallas Mavericks and reigning MVP Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets, who are sure to stun.
Unfortunately, a slew of All-Stars won’t be making it to the court this year. Golden State Warriors’ nine-time All-Star Steph Curry is out indefinitely with partial ligament tears in his leg. Phoenix Sun and 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant will miss his third-straight ASG while recovering from a knee injury and two-time All-Star Zion Williamson is out as well.
- Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid was promoted from the reserves to replace Durant, but now he may not play because of a foot issue, while Memphis Grizzly Ja Morant is stepping into Steph’s shoes.
- Other late additions include Pascal Siakam from the Toronto Raptors, the Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards and the Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox.