NBA All Star Weekend is here, and this year’s edition looks a little different than past years. A couple of weeks ago, LeBron James and Steph Curry took turns drafting their teams. Sunday, we get to see the first NBA All Star game that isn’t simply Eastern Conference versus Western Conference. Here are some quick predictions for All Star weekend.
Caleb McLaughlin wins MVP of the Celebrity Game: Four time MVP Kevin Hart won’t be playing this time, he’s still trying to get onto the Super Bowl podium. With Hart out, there are three former MVPs playing: Win Butler, Brandon Armstrong, and Justin Bieber. That said, it’s time for some new blood. Caleb McLauhlin, better known as Lucas Sinclair from Stranger Things, will win MVP. McLaughlin is 16 years old, the same age as Justin Bieber when he won MVP. McLaughlin might only be 5’5″, but short players have won MVP before (looking at you, Kevin Hart). On Twitter, McLaughlin posted a video of him hitting a three point shot. On top of that, the celebrity game will have a four point shot this year, and McLaughlin has the range to make it from there. If McLaughlin’s jump shot is falling, I like his chances.
Donovan Mitchell wins the Slam Dunk Contest: This year’s dunk contest is stacked. Three guards (Donovan Mitchell, Dennis Smith Jr., Victor Oladipo), and one forward (Larry Nance Jr.) make up the field. Nance is the son of the first NBA dunk contest winner, so that’s a cool bit of history. Oladipo and Mitchell are 6’4″ and 6’3″ respectively, and both have a 7’0″ wingspan. Oladipo and Mitchell are very athletic, but their long arms make them especially good dunkers. Mitchell’s insanely long wingspan doing a windmill is mesmerizing, he just makes it look easy. And then there’s Dennis Smith Jr., who is the shortest contestant at 6’2″, but he is insanely athletic. I have extremely high hopes for this year’s contest. While I think all four contestants have a chance to win (especially the guards), I’ll take Mitchell to win it.
Team LeBron wins in a close game: LeBron and Curry took turns picking their teams weeks ago at this point. Why? I have no clue. Since the draft took place, four of LeBron’s players have gotten hurt and needed to be replaced. Team LeBron’s depth is lacking compared to Team Steph, but Team LeBron still has LeBron, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. That’s a pretty good trio. On top of that, they also have Russell Westbrook, and you know he’s going to be giving it 100%, even if no one else is. My prediction is that Team LeBron wins in a close game, with LeBron himself winning MVP.
The All Star Game will get more tweaks next year: Look, letting players pick the teams is a cool idea, and this year’s All Star Game should be better than the last few. But this is not the final iteration of the All Star game. I expect that captains will get to choose the teams, but the draft will be moved closer to the actual game because of the injury issue. I also expect a total elimination of voting for All Stars based on conferences. With the elimination of Eastern Conference versus Western Conference, the best players should be selected to the All Star Game, regardless of what conference they come from. So, the basic concept of the All Star Game will stay the same, but there will be some tweaking to the new format.