NBA All-Star weekend received a needed jolt of energy last year thanks in large part to the Zach LaVine vs. Aaron Gordon Show, and it’s going to be compelling to see what the Association has for a 2017 encore.
Here’s a complete look at what’s in store the next three days from New Orleans:
NBA All-Star Weekend Schedule 2017
Friday, February 17
10:30 a.m. ET: Rising Stars Challenge Practice, NBA TV
Noon ET: All-Star media availability, NBA TV
7 p.m. ET: NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, ESPN (TSN in Canada)
9 p.m. ET: Rising Stars Challenge, TNT (TSN in Canada)
Saturday, February 13
11 a.m. ET: Hall of Fame Announcement
Noon ET: All-Star Game Practice, NBA TV
8 p.m. ET: D-League All-Star Game (Dunk Contest and Three-Point Contest at halftime), NBA TV
8 p.m. ET: Adam Silver media availability, NBA TV
8 p.m. ET: All-Star Saturday Night (In order: Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest, Dunk Contest), TNT (TSN in Canada)
Sunday, February 14
8 p.m. ET: All-Star Game, TNT (SportsNet in Canada)
Unless you want to count the celebrity game and Kevin Hart probably somehow winning the MVP without even playing, the weekend really starts with the Rising Stars Challenge. While there are plenty of burgeoning young studs on this year’s rosters, I’d be OK if we just let Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic play 1-on-1 for 40 minutes.
Towns and Jokic aren’t rising stars. Both 21, they are legitimate superstars already, and it won’t be long before they’re both playing on Sunday of this weekend. Both should be considered strong MVP candidates for this one, while others such as Devin Booker, Myles Turner, Kristaps Porzingis and Jamal Murray are worth watching in that regard, as well.
While Towns won’t be back to defend his Skills Challenge title on Saturday, Jokic will compete after replacing an injured Joel Embiid. The Serbian’s unbelievable passing skills make him a legitimate threat to win, though Isaiah Thomas and the wings will be seeking revenge after letting a big man win last year.
In the three-point contest, Klay Thompson looks like the favorite now that he doesn’t have to deal with teammate Steph Curry, though he’ll have plenty of competition. Kyrie Irving has tons of experience in this event, including a win in 2013. Eric Gordon and Kyle Lowry are each knocking down over 3.0 treys per game on the year, with the latter shooting at a 41.8 percent clip, which is tied with Thompson as the best among players in the contest.
Don’t forget about Nick Young, who will not only bring some flare to the contest, but can heat up in a hurry.
The dunk contest will unfortunately be without two-time defending champ Zach LaVine, but the mystery surrounding Derrick Jones Jr. will provide the contest with plenty of buzz, as will Aaron Gordon’s anticipated encore.
And hey, if all goes awry, we can just watch highlights from last year:
And then we have the good ol’ All-Star game, which isn’t short on storylines this year. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back on the same team. Westbrook in revenge mode after not being named a starter, all while going for a third MVP award in a row. Anthony Davis looking to put on a show in front of the home crowd. The Greek Freak, an unprecedented weapon in the open court, playing in a game tailored perfectly to his unique skill set.
In summation: Don’t leave your couch this weekend.