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NBA All-Star Saturday preview and open thread: Cheer on Fred VanVleet in the 3-point shootout

We’ve also got Scottie Barnes trying his hand at the skills challenge!

Atlanta Hawks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s NBA All-Star Saturday Night! AKA, “the best part of All-Star Weekend,” in many peoples’ eyes. And for Toronto Raptors fans, it should be a fun one: We have Scottie Barnes and his rookie teammates participating in the Skills Competition, and Fred VanVleet competing against some of the leagues’ hottest shooters in the 3-Point Contest. After that we can sit back and enjoy the dunk contest!

The festivities kick off at 8:00 p.m. with the Skills Challenge, though you can also tune in to TSN starting at 6:30 for their pre-game coverage.

NBA All-Star Skills Challenge

Where to watch

TSN4, 8:00 p.m.

Participants

Team Rooks

Team Cavs

  • Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Team Antetokounmpos

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Alex Antetokounmpo, Raptors905
  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Format

Tonight’s event is a four-round competition between the three teams. Each team will participate in the first three rounds, which are shooting (each player from each team has 30 seconds to shoot from five different spots on the court, ranging from 10 feet to 30 feet); passing (each team will have 30 seconds to complete passes into three oversized moving targets, which vary in size and distance); and a team “relay” (each team must complete a course with different skill-testing stations, including outlet passing, dribbling, and three-point shooting).

Then the two teams with the most points after the first three rounds will advance to the final round, where the competition will be a half-court shot contest; the team to make a shot from half in the fastest time wins.

Prediction

I gotta think Team Cavs has the advantage, right? These guys have been playing together, and playing well, all year, and they’re all good all-around players (Allen is perhaps the weak link), and they’ve got the home crowd behind them. Then again, even though they’re not on the same team, the Antetokounmpo brothers surely know each others’ tendencies! I’m just not sure Alex and Thanasis in particular have the skills to win this event.

Barnes and the rookies are the real dark horse. All three are highly skilled all-around players, but are not particularly familiar with each other or with playing under the bright lights of an All-Star competition.

I have Team Cavs vs. Team Rooks in the final, with Team Cavs winning it.

NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest

Participants

Format

The 3-Point Contest features two rounds, with the top three shooters in the first round facing off in the second and final round. Each player will have 70 seconds to make as many threes as they can, with five shots from five spots around the arc. Four of the spots have four one-point balls and one two-point money ball, and one rack of a player’s choice has five money-balls. There’s also two additional extra-deep shooting spots from the deep wing, featuring one ball each, worth three points.

Prediction

Boy, I really want Fred VanVleet to win this! He’s got the touch and the clutch gene, but, I worry his gather and release is a little slow for this competition. The odds have Luke Kennard as the favourite, which makes sense, as his 44.8% from downtown is second-best in the league this season. Kennard’s also got a home-town edge, as he’s from the Ohio area.

But I’m leaning Patty Mills’ way. He’s got the second-best odds according to DraftKings, and he’s been on fire this season, and he’s got that calm, cool demeanour that thrives in this contest — and a quick release.

NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest

Participants

Format

The event features two rounds, with each player getting two dunks each. After the first round, the two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks will advance to the final round; the two final dunkers then get two more dunks, and highest combined score wins.

The judges for the event have yet to be revealed, but I would imagine it will be members of the league’s 75th Anniversary Team.

Prediction

I’m going with Toppin on this one, for no other reason that I feel like I’ve seen more Toppin highlight-worthy dunks than any of the others players, perhaps even all the other players combined! And, Toppin finished second in last year’s event, so he’s got that experience behind him.

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