NBA All-Star Game 2016: Top Contenders, Predictions for Game's MVP Award

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2016

West Team’s Russell Westbrook, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, holds the MVP trophy after the NBA All-Star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, in New York. The West Team won 163-158. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

It’s tough to predict which star will shine the brightest on a given night.

The past three NBA All-Star MVP awards have been hoisted by little guys—point guards Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Will that trend continue in 2016?

We'll see.

Kobe Bryant has racked up four All-Star MVPs in his career, which is tied with Bob Pettit for the most ever. LeBron James has a pair, too. Both Kobe and LBJ will start for the West and East, respectively, which has become commonplace in the past decade.

From 2006-2009, the Mamba and the King traded trophies:

All-Star MVPs
2005Allen IversonPhiladelphia 76ers
2006LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers
2007Kobe BryantLos Angeles Lakers
2008LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers
2009Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'NealLos Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns

With the exception of Irving—who was injured for most of this year but still nearly started thanks to the fan vote—four of the past five All-Star MVPs will be playing on Feb. 14.

Will one of them add to their trophy case, or will a new star emerge?



2016 NBA All-Star Game: East Roster
BCKyle LowryToronto Raptors
BCDwyane WadeMiami Heat
FCLeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers
FCPaul GeorgeIndiana Pacers
FCCarmelo AnthonyNew York Knicks
BCJimmy Butler*Chicago Bulls
BCDeMar DeRozanToronto Raptors
BCJohn WallWashington Wizards
BCIsaiah ThomasBoston Celtics
FCChris BoshMiami Heat
FCPaul MillsapAtlanta Hawks
FCAndre DrummondDetroit Pistons
FCPau Gasol (replacing Butler)Chicago Bulls


NBA All-Star Game: West Roster
BCStephen CurryGolden State Warriors
BCRussell WestbrookOklahoma City Thunder
FCKobe BryantLos Angeles Lakers
FCKevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder
FCKawhi LeonardSan Antonio Spurs
BCChris PaulLos Angeles Clippers
BCJames HardenHouston Rockets
BCKlay ThompsonGolden State Warriors
FCLaMarcus AldridgeSan Antonio Spurs
FCDeMarcus CousinsSacramento Kings
FCAnthony DavisNew Orleans Pelicans
FCDraymond GreenGolden State Warriors


LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Western Conference All-Stars holds his MVP trophy presented by KIA after the 2011 NBA All-Star Game on February 20, 2011 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

It's unlikely that Bryant adds another chapter to his storied career and captures an unprecedented fifth ASG MVP. Doing so would likely require the Mamba to play some serious minutes, which is not ideal for a gimpy 37-year-old.

Perhaps he could get hot down the stretch, but these guys are much more likely to take home the hardware:

Russell Westbrook, West G

Last year, Russell Westbrook didn’t just win MVP.

He snatched it.

The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard plays like his opponents just insulted a grandparent. He attacks the basket like few others in the game and genuinely doesn’t care who’s in his way.

Westbrook isn’t one of those laid-back All-Stars who are content to be there. No, no—Russ goes for the kill, even if the game doesn’t count.

Paul George, East F

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 8: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 8, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We missed Paul George last year.

That gruesome leg injury he suffered in the summer (don’t look it up if you know what’s good for you) kept the Indiana Pacers star sidelined from the All-Star festivities for the first time since 2012.

This season, he’s back to his old self.

PG-13 is giving Indy a career-high 23.3 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds and four assists. Expect him to offer the national audience a reminder of why he’s still one of the league’s elite.

Stephen Curry, West G

Does this one even need an explanation?

Curry can get hot quicker than the inside of your car in the summer. All it takes is one splash from distance, and suddenly it’s a deluge.

The league’s reigning regular-season MVP seems to take his game to another level when the world is watching—and the world will certainly be watching Sunday night.

In a game that typically features minimal defense until crunch time, Curry could conceivably hit 10 three-pointers and break Carmelo Anthony’s record of eight (2014).

DeMar DeRozan, East G

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 28:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball during an NBA game against the New York Knicks at the Air Canada Centre on January 28, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Very quietly, the Toronto Raptors have been the NBA’s fifth-best team in 2015-16. They’re No. 2 in the Eastern Conference and are a legitimate threat to shake things up come playoff time.

Toronto has been carried by its backcourt bromance of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who will both look to shine when their city hosts the All-Star Game.

Lowry will match up with Curry, Westbrook and Chris Paul—a three-headed PG monster that would humble even the league's mightiest floor generals. He will certainly hold his own and prove that he deserves to be in the game.

But DeRozan is the better MVP bet.

With Drake cheering him on from the sidelines, DeRozan will look to combine his unique blend of marksmanship and freakish athletic ability against the West. If the crowd gets behind its guy early, he could be in for a huge night.


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