NBA All-Star weekend is an opportunity for most players to relax, recuperate and prepare for the second half of a grueling 82-game schedule. For the elite players in the league, the weekend is an opportunity to showcase their skills and shine on the brightest stage.
Some of the best players in the league will take the court for the All-Star Game, including several NBA champions and MVPs. While a few will certainly garner more MVP attention, there are a handful of terrific players who could warrant such an award when the final seconds tick off the game clock.
It’s no secret the NBA All-Star Game doesn’t hold much importance, but it’s an opportunity for players to emerge from the team atmosphere of the regular season schedule and showcase what they can do with the basketball. We’ll take a look at the top challengers who will assuredly impress on the court and who could potentially take home the MVP award.
The two-time All-Star MVP doesn’t have to lobby voters for extra attention. King James will go out on the court and prove why he deserves the award.
James is working on perhaps the best stretch of his career right now. He’s shooting lights out from the floor (56 percent), averaging 26.9 points (No. 4 in the league), 6.9 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game thus far. There isn’t anyone in the league playing better than LBJ right now.
LeBron finally got the championship monkey off his back last year, and while he’s certainly looking to add more rings, this weekend will be all about having fun and showcasing his talents. He can do things no one else can, and he’ll likely be the favorite to win his third All-Star MVP award this year.
With all the turmoil in Los Angeles, the Black Mamba has had to abandon his score-first mentality in favor of a facilitator role with the Lakers. That doesn’t mean he can’t still put up huge numbers, though.
All the strife in Los Angeles will be out of his mind during All-Star weekend, and he’ll have an opportunity to just take the court to play some basketball. As we’ve seen so many times from Kobe, just playing the game is what he does best.
Assists and rebounds don’t matter in the All-Star Game. Bryant is going to come out firing, and fans should expect to see him fill up the stat sheet with a big point total and some awe-inspiring moves. Smart money is on either James or Bryant as MVP on February 17.
Don’t sleep on Durant. The Black Mamba and King James may be the favorites, but no one can score like KD.
Durant went off for 36 points in last year’s contest and he’ll have a chance for a repeat performance if he can see significant time on the court this year. With a 29.1 points-per-game average in the regular season (against teams actually playing defense), he should have no problem racking up the points in the All-Star Game.
Durant is a special talent. No 6’9” athlete should be able to do the things he does. With one of the quickest releases and most accurate shots in the NBA, Durant will light up the scoreboard from the three-point line any chance he can get.
The former King of Cleveland may be the favorite to win the game’s MVP honors, but his heir apparent will look to dethrone him on All-Star weekend.
Irving is a rising superstar with the potential to be the best all-around point guard in the league. Playing for a Cavaliers team with just 16 wins this year, Irving has averaged 24 points, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per contest in the first half this season.
Irving has to set the tone for Cleveland, playing the role of primary scorer, facilitator and team leader. During the All-Star Game, all Irving will have to worry about is putting up numbers and proving he is one of the best in the game. He’ll also have a little practice from behind the arc courtesy of the three-point contest, so don’t be surprised if he lights it up from three-point land on February 17.
It’s hard to forget Anthony’s massive performance in the Olympics last year. He went off for 37 points on 10-of-12 shooting from behind the arc—all in 14:29 of playing time against Nigeria.
Anthony is one of the best pure scorers on the planet, and when his shot is on, it’s nearly impossible to keep him from scoring. With as little quality defense that is played in the All-Star Game, Anthony has an opportunity to surpass each of his contemporaries en route to an MVP award.
He isn’t the favorite to win the All-Star MVP award, but he isn’t a long shot, either. If Anthony can get hot, he’ll be hard to stop.
Two things epitomize All-Star Weekend: dunks and even bigger dunks. Griffin won’t be showcasing his rim-rattling dunking ability in the Slam Dunk Contest, but he’s guaranteed to hammer home a few posterizing jams in the All-Star Game.
Griffin has been a little banged up recently and he’ll likely take some time to rest up and repair his hobbled hamstring. Playing time will probably dictate how likely he is to take home the MVP award.
Still, there isn’t a more electric power forward in the business. Fans love to see the brand of basketball Griffin showcases night in and night out. He’s a long shot to win the award, but don’t be surprised to see his stat line include 20-plus points and three-plus monster jams.
The former Sixth Man of the Year isn’t playing second fiddle to anyone in Houston and he’ll have the opportunity to play in front of his home crowd in the All-Star Game.
Harden’s numbers this year indicate how ready he was to take the reins outside of OKC. He’s averaging 26 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game for a legitimate playoff contender this season.
Harden knows how to score and he can do it in bunches. If he can get some legitimate time on the floor for a Western Conference team loaded in the backcourt, he stands a good chance of putting up huge numbers en route to an MVP award.