The NBA All-Star Weekend opened with the Celebrity All-Star Game and the Rising Stars Challenge, and it will continue Saturday night with the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Shooting Contest and the Slam Dunk Contest.
The weekend will conclude with the All-Star Game between Team LeBron and Team Giannis Sunday night.
The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, has its second opportunity to host the All-Star celebration after its original turn in 1991.
All-Star Saturday Night
When: Saturday, February 16, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
Saturday's festivities get underway at 8 p.m. ET from the Spectrum Center, and the first event is the Skills Challenge. This event requires players to go through an obstacle course that includes ball-handling, passing and three-point shooting.
Event participants include Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks.
This event appears made for slick guards, but forwards have done well over the years. However, Doncic and Young have enough talent, skill and endurance to get the job done. Those two rookies should engage in a white-hot battle, and look for Doncic to emerge with the victory.
The three-point shooters will take over after Doncic & Co. conclude their efforts, and this event should be one of the more memorable of the All-Star Weekend.
It features Stephen Curry, one of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history. The game-changing shooter from the Golden State Warriors will face his brother, Seth Curry of the Portland Trail Blazers.
In addition to those two dead-eye shooters, the event features Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Danny Green of the Toronto Raptors, Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets, Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings, Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets.
This is a star-studded cast, and it would not be a surprise to see Booker make a strong run at repeating the title he won in Los Angeles in 2018. Lillard could also get on a hot streak, and Walker is capable of taking over in front of the home fans.
However, Steph Curry is competing, and he gets a chance to show off some brotherly dominance over Seth. He is going to take advantage of his opportunity and win the three-point shooting contest.
The Slam Dunk Contest does not appear to have the luster it did in previous years. It features John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks, Miles Bridges of the Hornets, Dennis Smith Jr. of the New York Knicks and Hamidou Diallo of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Collins is a powerful 6'10" leaper who has thrown down some thunderous dunks this season, while Bridges will get backing from the home crowd. He has brilliant athletic skills and should be able to give Collins the best battle.
We see Bridges thrilling the hometown fans but Collins taking the title with a couple of athletic, rim-wrecking dunks.
2019 NBA All-Star Game
When: Sunday, February 17, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers (Injured, will not play)
Both teams have plenty of firepower, and one could make the case that Team Giannis might be a bit more inspired than Team LeBron.
LeBron James is one of the game's all-time best and possibly the greatest ever, and he is at least No. 2 behind Michael Jordan.
Antetokounmpo is a brilliant all-around player who may be the heir apparent to LeBron. He is still making his reputation, and outdueling James in the All-Star Game could help him build his legacy.
Team LeBron features a starting lineup that includes Durant, Irving, Harden and Leonard, and it's difficult to see that team getting beaten.
For that to happen, Curry and Walker would need to have spectacular shooting nights, and Westbrook would have to come off the bench and dominate while Antetokounmpo puts his signature on the game in the clutch moments.
It's certainly possible, but we see Team LeBron winning a surprisingly competitive All-Star Game.