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LeBron James and the 10 We Wanted to Participate in All-Star Saturday Night

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2011

LeBron James and the 10 We Wanted to Participate in All-Star Saturday Night

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    NBA All-Star Weekend is rapidly approaching, and with it, the much anticipated dunk contest and three-point contest.

    In the past, these contests featured some of the biggest names in the game competing for individual bragging rights.

    While the three-point contest still gives us some stars most years, the dunk contest could really use a jolt.

    With that in mind, I've thought of some players who could give All-Star Saturday night the jolt it needs. Most are big names and a couple are rising stars (if the NBA is committed to hanging on to that theme).

    So, let's take a look at 10 players we would have rather seen on All-Star Saturday night...

10: Kevin Love

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    For What?:  Three-Point Contest

     

    I'd have to do some research, but I doubt the league's leading rebounder has ever participated in the three-point contest.

    That's how versatile Kevin Love is.  He dominates the boards, and can light it up from outside.  He's shooting well over 40 percent from three-point range.

9: Danny Granger

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    For What?:  Three-Point Contest 

     

    Danny Granger is one of the most underrated all-around players in the league.  He does just about everything well, and that includes hitting the three-point shot.

    He's in the top-10 in three-pointers made, and he shoots just under 40 percent from behind the three-point line.

8: Rodrigue Beaubois

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    For What?:  Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest

     

    This is obviously a long shot because Beaubois has played in just one game this year.  But Roddy Buckets could participate in both of the marquee events for All-Star Saturday night.

    Last year, he shot 41 percent from three-point range, and he showed he has some insane bounce, too.

    He's listed at 6'0" tall, and shorter dunkers have an advantage with judges because the extra distance they travel through the air looks cool.

    Need more convincing?  Check this out.

7: Chase Budinger

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    For What?:  Dunk Contest 

     

    Not many people know about Chase Budinger's bounce.  In case you're in the dark on this: Watch this and pay particular attention to where his head is on the replay. 

    Budinger can flat-out fly, and blond is a rare thing to see in the dunk contest.

6: Brandon Jennings

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    For What?:  Dunk Contest 

     

    I wasn't sure how Jennings would perform in the dunk contest when he was announced as a participant, but I was intrigued.

    He hasn't had many dunks in his career, but we know he can get up.

    It would have been nice for the dunk contest to have a little guy, it just won't be the same without one.

5: David Lee

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    For What?:  Dunk Contest 

     

    James White is one of the best dunkers ever, but David Lee beat him in the 2001 McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest.

    I'm not convinced his dunks were better than White's, or even Jawad Williams', but he at least proved he belonged.

    He's put on some weight since his high school days, so I don't know if he can still get up the way he used to.  Either way, he'd put on a show.

4: Russell Westbrook

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    For What?:  Dunk Contest 

     

    Westbrook is still a young guy (even by NBA standards), but he's already developing a habit of posterizing people.

    This highlight reel is already a year old, so it's missing a lot of Westbrook's best jams from this season.  However, it still shows us the kind of dunker Westbrook is.

    He dunks with a lot more power than most point guards and that intensity could get the crowd—and judges—behind him.

3: Derrick Rose

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    For What?:  Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest 

     

    Wanting to see Rose in the dunk contest is a given, but many of you may be surprised by my desire to see him shoot.

    This season, he's made huge leaps in his outside shooting.  His three-point percentage has jumped up 10 percent from 27 last year to 37 this year.  Plus, he's averaging eight times as many three-point makes per game (0.2 to 1.6).

    I'd like to see his newly developed skill up against the league's best.

    Like I said earlier, the dunking part is a given.

2: Rudy Gay

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    For What?:  Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest 

     

    Rudy Gay is a very underrated outside shooter.  His career three-point percentage is 35 percent, and this year he's shooting a career-high 40 percent from that range.  He could definitely make some noise in the three-point contest.

    As for him being in the dunk contest: He did it in '08 and was scheduled to participate in 2009 before being replaced by J.R. Smith.  He would bring some buzz back to the contest.  We're missing out on dunks like this.

1: LeBron James

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    For What?:  Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest 

     

    How do I choose a highlight reel for LeBron James?  The number of ridiculous dunks he's had in his career is unreal.  Given his size, one could easily make the argument that LeBron James is the best athlete in the league.

    There is plenty of speculation as to why LeBron won't participate in the dunk contest.  Whatever the reason is, it's time for LeBron to stop worrying about it.

    I imagine his style in a dunk contest would be some sort of Dominique Wilkins/Darryl Dawkins hybrid... athleticism and power.

    As for the three-point contest: Much like Derrick Rose, LeBron is enjoying his best season from downtown.  He's shooting a career-high 35 percent from three-point range. 

    He may not be a favorite against the league's top shooters, but if he got hot, he'd have a chance.  Plus, the spectacle of having LeBron James in the contest would draw a ton of viewers.  Obviously, that's true of the dunk contest, as well.

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