It’s the time of the year again for the year’s best and brightest to showcase their talents for the NBA All-Star Game. This year’s mid-season classic will be held at New Orleans, Louisiana.
At the Helm of the East and the West
Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics will be at the helm of the East Squad while Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors will lead the West squad for the 2nd time in three seasons. It would be interesting to see how Stevens will play his guard and wingmen laden squad against a tall and outside shooting squad.
Rising Stars to Watch Out For
A star may be born for this year’s classic in the person of the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is the first Greek to be selected as an all-star and the first Buck to be named an all-star following Michael Redd in 2004. He has shown in his young career his versatility on both ends of the court owing to his skills for his height. He is a match-up problem for opposing guards. We can’t wait to see what this young kid can bring in the years to come but for now, let’s enjoy his highlight plays.
Another rising star to watch out for is Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics. He is having a career year averaging 29.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists per games while shooting 46.8% from the field and 38.2% from the parking lot. Some pundits tout Thomas as the greatest player NBA player under six feet in waiting if he continues to play out his career with the huge numbers he is producing night in and night out for Beantown, bigger that his 5’9” frame.
The East Team
Of course, the East side will be bannered by the King Lebron James for his 13th all-star selection. It is good to note that no player in the Eastern Conference all-star roster has appeared in at least 5 all-star games other than James. Kevin Love of the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers would have played his 4th all-star but a knee injury kept him at bay.
The West Team
Over at the Western Conference, the drama between former teammates Kevin Durant who is playing in his 8th all-star game and season MVP front-runner Russel Westbrook who is averaging a triple-double for this season with 30.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game may steal the show. In their match-ups this season, there have been fireworks for the once potent duo of the OKC Thunder owing to Durant’s departure to the Golden State Warriors. How will they play together given that tension? Will Coach Steve Kerr let them play together in the first place?
Another piece of the Western Conference all-stars that should not be overlooked is another season MVP front-runner, The Beard James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Never to be outdone by Westbrook and Thomas, Harden has been producing solid numbers averaging 29.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game. The only downside for his awesome production this season together with Westbrook is their turnovers with a combined average of 5.7 turnovers per game.
The West Side will be fun to watch with the presence of Splash Brothers and reigning regular season Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry (4th all-star appearance) and reigning three point champion Klay Thompson (3rd all-star appearance) together with fellow Warrior Draymond Green (2nd all-star appearance), the silent but effective Kawhi Leonard (2nd all-star appearance) of the San Antonio Spurs who clinched their 20th consecutive winning season and young hot-head star Demarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings who is fourth in individual statistical performance this season behind only to Westbrook, Thomas and Harden. The challenge now for Coach Steve Kerr is how to spread the wealth among his players who majority of them needs the ball to be effective. It is interesting to note that for this year’s Western Conference all-stars, only Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook has appeared more than five times for the mid-year classic with Durant’s 8 and Westbrook’s 6.