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

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NBA All-Star Game 2016: Top Contenders, Predictions for Game's MVP Award
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
Year Winner Team
2005 Allen Iverson Philadelphia 76ers
2006 LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
2007 Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers
2008 LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
2009 Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns

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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?

Rosters

East

2016 NBA All-Star Game: East Roster
Starters Player Team
BC Kyle Lowry Toronto Raptors
BC Dwyane Wade Miami Heat
FC LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
FC Paul George Indiana Pacers
FC Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks
Reserves Player Team
BC Jimmy Butler* Chicago Bulls
BC DeMar DeRozan Toronto Raptors
BC John Wall Washington Wizards
BC Isaiah Thomas Boston Celtics
FC Chris Bosh Miami Heat
FC Paul Millsap Atlanta Hawks
FC Andre Drummond Detroit Pistons
FC Pau Gasol (replacing Butler) Chicago Bulls

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West

NBA All-Star Game: West Roster
Starters Player Team
BC Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors
BC Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder
FC Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers
FC Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder
FC Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs
Reserves Player Team
BC Chris Paul Los Angeles Clippers
BC James Harden Houston Rockets
BC Klay Thompson Golden State Warriors
FC LaMarcus Aldridge San Antonio Spurs
FC DeMarcus Cousins Sacramento Kings
FC Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans
FC Draymond Green Golden State Warriors

NBA

Predictions

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

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

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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