Preview: NBA All-Star Weekend 2018
It’s the start of a new year which means new resolutions, new opportunities, and the annual All-Star Weekend for the NBA. Just like in years past, 2018 will bring three days of fun and spectacle, celebrating the league’s best and brightest players. Let’s take a look at what to expect, who to expect, and all the information you’ll need so that you won’t miss a minute of the action.
When & Where is the 2018 NBA All-Star Game?
The annual All-Star weekend kicks off on Friday, February 16 and runs through Sunday, February 18. Those with significant others, yes, this is the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day so plan accordingly. DVR is your best friend in these situations.
This year, the festivities will take place at the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Staples Center. Downtown LA will be buzzing with activity all weekend so make sure, if you’re attending the weekend in person, that you give yourself plenty of travel time. You won’t want to miss any of the action because you’re stuck in that terrible California traffic.
NBA All-Star Weekend 2018 Events
With three days of activity, there’s plenty to watch whether you’re in person or at home on your couch. On Friday, the weekend begins with the 2018 NBA Rising Stars Game, followed immediately by the All-Star Celebrity Game.
NBA Rising Stars Game
Since the 90s, the NBA has started off the All-Star weekend with a Rising Stars game featuring some of the league’s most talented, up-and-coming rookie and sophomore players. Assistant coaches around the league select the players and the two teams’ rosters are determined by former players including Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. This year, look for breakout performers like Philly’s Ben Simmons and the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma.
All-Star Celebrity Game
In what has become one of the year’s most fun sporting events to watch, the NBA’s annual celebrity game always provides a lot of hilarity, a lot of stars from stage and screen, and even a little basketball talent. Funny men like Kevin Hart usually steal the spotlight with antics, but it’s clearly skilled talents like 2K Sports TV personality Rachel Demita that steal the show by actually playing basketball.
On Saturday, the weekend moves into the more anticipated events, including the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest.
With a timed obstacle course featuring passing, dribbling, and shooting, the Skills Challenge showcases players’ all-around offensive ability. While you might think that only the quickest backcourt players could win this event, the last two years have shown that the evolution of big men is not hyperbolic. In 2016, the trophy belonged to Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and last year, it went to Kristaps Porzingis.
As the league’s love affair with the three-ball continues to grow, the fans’ reverence for the yearly Three-Point Contest grows along with it. Since the days of Larry Bird winning three straight (the first three years of its existence), the contest has been a sight to see. However, recent years featuring modern sharpshooters like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have proven to be some of the contest’s most exciting. Last year, the trophy belonged to Eric Gordon, so expect to see him back in the mix.
Slam Dunk Contest
Ah, Saturday night’s main event. While the spectacle has waned in excitement at times, especially last year, it’s still one of the most anticipated moments of the weekend. Last year’s trophy went to the Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III – but really should have gone home with no one – so expect some shake-ups this year and some surprising entries.
The 2018 NBA All-Star Game
We can’t forget about the weekend’s true main event, the actual NBA All-Star Game. However, you’ll notice something quite different this year – the East vs. West matchup is no more. Instead, the 24 selected players (12 from each conference) will be drafted onto two teams. On January 18th, TNT will reveal the two team captains (along with the 10 starters) who will draft from the player pool.
On Sunday night, the two teams will tip off for charity, as each team will select a Los Angeles-area charity or national organization that will benefit from donations from All-Star Weekend.
NBA All-Star Game Player Predictions
While we’re still over two weeks away from learning the names of the 10 All-Star starters and three weeks from learning who the other 14 players are, we all know who the obvious selections will be. LeBron, Kyrie, Harden, Steph, and Klay will certainly make the rosters. But, who are the players you might not expect?
Look for the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo to make his first All-Star game, as long as he’s healthy. In 33 games with Indiana this year, he’s averaging 24.9 points and 5.3 rebounds on nearly 49% shooting and 42% from behind the arc. In a season where most expected Indiana to be at the bottom of the east, Dipo has helped keep the Pacers in the playoff mix.
I can’t imagine a scenario where at least one of the 76ers dynamic duo – Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid – doesn’t make the squad. In Simmons’ rookie season, he’s looked like a player who’s been playing pro ball for years. He’s a dominant force in the paint and isn’t far off from averaging a triple-double. His impressive numbers include 16.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 50.7% from the field. Embiid’s health could keep him from seeing the All-Star court but his numbers certainly won’t. In 27 games for Philly, he’s averaging 23.9 points and 10.9 rebounds.
Keep an eye out for the All-Star announcements on TNT during the January 18 broadcast and keep an eye on SeatGeek for tickets and information on all the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities.