NBA All-Star Game 2014: 5 Takeaways from the Weekend in New Orleans

Kendall BakerContributor IIIFebruary 16, 2014

NBA All-Star Game 2014: 5 Takeaways from the Weekend in New Orleans

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone.

    We witnessed the highest-scoring All-Star Game in history, a new Slam Dunk Contest format and so much more.

    Though we rarely see too much compelling drama or new storylines developing over the course of the weekend, we were still able to learn some things.

    Here are five takeaways from the action in New Orleans.

The New Dunk Contest Format Was a Major Flop

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    This year's Slam Dunk Contest was supposed to bring the excitement back to what was once All-Star weekend's most anticipated event. However, when it was all said and done, this may rank as the biggest flop ever.

    With stars like Paul George, Damian Lillard and John Wall in the field, this year's event had all the right ingredients. The ingredients worked, too. Guys delivered some emphatic dunks. 

    So what went wrong?

    Well, after you gather your ingredients and combine them to make your finished product, you still need to present it to customers. That's where this thing failed. The NBA served us an extremely underwhelming final product—one that many of us, even NBA players, had a hard time understanding.

    Here are some player reactions, via Twitter:

    Nic Batum, Portland Trail Blazers: "That's it?"

    Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards: "It's over?"

    Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers: "The end of this year's dunk contest was like the end of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire". Ur like huh.. Is that it? Shouldn't there be more"

    Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons: "Wait what?"

    The fact that John Wall was crowned champion minutes after throwing down a total of one solo dunk is mind-boggling. Plus, as impressive as his dunk was, Wall probably won this competition because he was the only guy who was successful on his first try. Lame.

    How about Paul George taking another crack at it after his impressive between-the-legs dunk? Do we really care that they are on the same "team"? This is an individual event.

    Back to the drawing board, NBA. Perhaps Adam Silver has some fresh ideas? As low as it ranks on the list of important areas to address, figuring out a new format that will reinvigorate the Slam Dunk Contest wouldn't be a bad accomplishment to begin his tenure.   

Andre Drummond Made a Statement

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    For all the antics and hoopla surrounding All-Star weekend, there are still opportunities for players to actually play some basketball. 

    When the best players in the world take center stage, certain guys seize the opportunity to shine. This year, that player was Andre Drummond.

    He notched 30 points and 25 rebounds in 29 minutes. Those would be ridiculous numbers against a high school team.

    Obviously, we all realize the lack of defensive effort in the Rising Stars Challenge, but during a weekend where almost every player is trying to put up the best stat line possible, Drummond outpaced the field. 

    We can downplay 25 rebounds, including 14 offensive boards, all we want, but I guarantee you every player on the court was trying to grab as many rebounds as possible in order to start his own three-on-zero fast break, which has become synonymous with All-Star weekend.

    Drummond had no interest in letting them do that.

Everyone Can (and Will) Shoot the Three-Ball in Today's NBA

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The NBA game has changed dramatically over the course of its history. The most recent change that we are currently seeing come to the forefront is the prevalence of stretch 4s—power forwards who can shoot from anywhere on the court. 

    Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Millsap are all power forwards who can (and will) shoot from beyond the arc. Guys like Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge are more than comfortable from right inside of it. 

    So how does this relate to the All-Star Game?

    With two teams full of three-point-shooting bigs, a lot of threes were attempted. It wasn't like the guards were responsible for them all, either. Anthony was 8-of-13, Love was 2-of-7 and even Dwight Howard was 0-of-2. 

    Overall, the East and West teams combined to shoot a total of 100 three-pointers. Last year, that number was just 71. In 2010, it was 38, via Basketball Reference.

    Think about that for a second. Three-point attempts nearly tripled in just four years.

    When guys are playing little-to-no defense, the three-point line is open. In today's NBA, almost every All-Star can settle for that shot with a reasonable chance of making it. They sure did on Sunday night. 

Kyrie Irving Loves All-Star Weekend

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    Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

    Last year, he was the Three-Point Contest winner. This year, he upgraded to All-Star MVP. Kyrie Irving seems to rise to the occasion when he's surrounded by talent.

    Cleveland front office, I'm looking at you.

The All-Star Game Really Is "The Ultimate Pickup Game"

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    Randy Belice/Getty Images

    As players took the court for Sunday night's All-Star Game, TNT's Reggie Miller called the impending matchup "the ultimate pickup game." Like years past, it proved to be just that. 

    The All-Star Game is what it is, and until the stakes are raised (how about the losing team pays for the winning team's dinner like a real pickup game?), it's going to remain a fast-paced exhibition full of three-pointers, wide open dunks and terrible defense.

    But is that really so bad? Everyone involved in the NBA All-Star Game—including the fans watching—understands that it is purely for fan entertainment. No one expects to see too much competitiveness out there. In fact, it's kind of awkward when guys start taking things too seriously

    In Major League Baseball, the winning team secures home-field advantage for the World Series. This makes things more interesting, for sure. However, baseball isn't a contact sport. So, promoting guys to give 100 percent effort in baseball's All-Star Game is reasonable.

    In the NBA, it isn't.

    Can you imagine LeBron James and Kevin Durant going head-to-head in the All-Star Game with something as significant as home-court advantage on the line? Sure, that would be incredibly entertaining, but what happens when LeBron breaks an ankle?

    Or how about the backlash that would occur when fans of a team with title aspirations get upset about one of their guys getting snubbed? I can picture it already: forums and comment boards filled with Lakers fans claiming that their shooting guard getting snubbed out of the All-Star Game is the reason they're playing Game 7 of the NBA Finals away from home.

    So here's to hoping you got some excitement out of watching the highlight-filled "pickup game" on Sunday. Whether we always enjoy watching players tip-toe the line between satisfying fans and not trying too hard, this is entertainment in its purest form.

    See you next year.

     

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