Bench Dribble Podcast: All-Star Weekend preview
The field is set and NBA All-Star Weekend is a go. Here's a full preview of the event and a trade deadline wrap.
Over the last week LeBron and Giannis drafted their rosters and the league confirmed who'll be in the other events. Probably more importantly the dust has settled on the trade deadline, so who looks good for the run home?
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The 2020 NBA All-Star weekend is to be held in Chicago. Although it's called All-Star Weekend things officially start with a celebrity game on Friday (AEDT). In Australia the entire weekend is broadcast exclusively via ESPN. NBA League Pass has everything, except the celebrity game.
Rising Stars game
On Saturday is the Rising Stars challenge which sees Team USA vs Team World. While there are names like Zion Williamson, Luka Dončić and Trae Young on the rosters, don't expect them to wind up as MVP. Historically there's even less defence in this game than the main event.
Those who aren't gun-shy typically win. Just look at the last four MVPs from this game: Kyle Kuzma, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jamal Murray and Zach LaVine.
Sunday is where things really pick up with what's known in the US as All-Star Saturday Night. This is comprised of three events: the skills challenge, three-point shootout and slam dunk contest.
Slam dunk contest
The last confirmed entrant into the field was Pat Connaughton from Milwaukee. He'll be out to prove that white men can jump, but faces stiff competition. Ex-champion Dwight Howard could very well surprise even though he last won 11 years ago.
Magic forward Aaron Gordon is the favourite in the field. After all who can forget him and LaVine trading 50s or that dunk over Orlando's mascot? I like Derrick Jones Jr. While he flopped in his first slam dunk contest, the man is called Airplane Mode for a reason.
Some of the best gunslingers in the NBA will shoot the lights out on Sunday afternoon. While it doesn't have the same appeal as the dunk contest it quite often winds up as the best event. Surprisingly the NBA has messed with the format adding two shots from the Mountain Dew zone.
It's a case of why mess with something that works perfectly. Realistically it's probably a cash grab, aimed at reducing the decreased salary cap projections.
🚨 NEW THIS YEAR 🚨
The "MTN DEW Zone" includes two locations positioned 6 feet behind the 3-point line and holds one special green ball, the "3-Ball." Shots made with the green ball are worth three points. https://t.co/W3S6qDsoFz
— 2020 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) February 5, 2020
All-Star game preview
The All-Star draft was brought in to mix the conferences up. Funnily enough this year's draft saw all the starters selected winding up in their original conference. Unfortunately most NBA teammates also ended up on the same teams too.
This usually adds a little more fun to the spectacle seeing those guys go at each other. Fortunately Philly duo Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are split up. All eyes will be on the pair with the constant whispers and drama going on in Philadelphia.
As discussed last week, the NBA has created a twist on this year's game, as a tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Add this in with each quarter essentially a mini game raising money for charity, we should expect the most competitive All-Star game in years. Predicting the All-Star MVP presents a challenge and going past either team captain is just too hard.
NBA trade deadline wrap
As I predicted Andre Drummond was traded to the Cavs, except he went for virtually free. Clearly it didn't surprise me, but the fact Cleveland held onto Love, Thompson and Nance did.
General public take a ticket and get in line. You might be a chance of playing for the Houston Rockets. Basketballers are renowned for being tall, but the Rockets are bucking the trend.
A huge four-team trade kicked off the deadline sending Rockets centre Clint Capella out and bringing wing Robert Covington in. PJ Tucker will now start at centre for the Rockets who stands at just six foot six inches in shoes. So if you can shoot the ball and are at least six-foot tall, slide into Daryl Morey's DMs.
Elsewhere the Warriors and Timberwolves pulled off a big trade swapping the rich salaries of D'Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins out for each other. Russel now teams up with best friend Karl Towns, while Wiggins could benefit from Curry and Thompson taking a load off of him.
Finally Miami have gone all in on winning the East, by acquiring veterans Andre Igoudala and Jae Crowder. More importantly circle Miami vs Memphis when the 2021 NBA schedule drops as the young Grizzlies try to prove a point to Igoudala.
Image source: Kayo Sports website
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