For the first time in a long time, the Golden State Warriors are heavily represented at NBA All-Star Weekend this year.
Between Harrison Barnes and Stephen Curry, the Warriors have players who will be completing a total four All-Star events, starting with Barnes in the Rising Stars Challenge tonight and ending with Curry in the All-Star game on Sunday.
Rising Stars Challenge
A couple years ago, the NBA changed the Rookie-Sophmore game into the Rising Stars Challenge, with teams being drafted by TNT’s NBA analysts. Chris Webber and Grant Hill are the coaches this year, with Harrison Barnes getting drafted by Grant Hill as his 4th overall pick. Barnes will be looking to build off his performance last year where he 12 points on 5-8 shooting, but failed to get a rebound or an assist.
With Barnes having struggled in the regular season this year, the exhibition flowing Rising Stars challenge could be an opportunity for him to showcase his talents and gain some confidence. However, with Barnes participating in the Dunk Contest tomorrow, he may tone it back a little to save some energy. Check out the full rosters here.
Shooting Stars Challenge
The first of the five events of All-Star Saturday tomorrow is the Shooting Stars challenge, where teams of three shoot from several locations in a race to finish, with the last shot being from halfcourt. Stephen Curry will captain a team along with his father Dell and Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars, and this squad is considered to be the favorites considering both Steph and Dell’s range (Vegas agrees, giving Team Curry the best odds at 9/5).
Other teams include Team Durant (Kevin Durant, Karl Malone, and WNBA rookie Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock), Team Hardaway, Jr.( Tim Hardaway, Jr., his father Tim Hardaway Sr. and the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Della Donne), and Team Bosh (Chris Bosh, Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky and Dominique Wilkins).
Three Point Contest
Stephen Curry will be making his third appearance in the three point contest this year, although this time it will be a little different than before. Instead of having one money ball at the end of each rack, each shooter will get to choose where to have a rack that is complete with all money balls.
While other players have revealed that they will be placing their money ball rack in one of the corners, Curry has remained quiet on the matter, saying he hasn’t decided where to put it, but it’ll be in one of the last three racks.
“You don’t want to start off with it, because you want to get in a rhythm, but if you put it at the end, you might get a little heavy-legged, a little tired. There’s definitely some game-planning that has to go on. I feel like a coach before a big game, have to make that one decision that could decide a win or a loss. But it’ll definitely be one of those last three racks. “
Once again, Curry is the favorite for the contest. After setting the record for most three pointers made in a season last year, Curry leads the league again with 171 threes at the All-Star break, with a 17 three lead on his teammate Klay Thompson.
However, Curry has struggled in this contest before, and other catch and shoot specialists such as Bradley Beal and former Warriors Marco Belinelli will give him a run for his money. A complete list of contestants can be found here.
The Dunk Contest
For the first time since Jason Richardson in 2004, the Warriors will have a representative in the Dunk Contest, although this year’s dunk contest also got a makeover.
Instead of the standard head to head compitition with a clear winner, this year’s contest will be a team event of East vs. West. The first round will be a 90 second “freestyle round,” where each team will perform as many dunks as possible in a dunk line type formation, with the winning team having the ability to chose if they go first or second in the next head-to-head round.
Joining Harrison Barnes on the West team will be the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and Sacramento Kings rookie Ben Mclemore, while the East squad is composed of reigning champion Toronto Raptor Terrence Ross, Washington Wizards star John Wall, and All-Star starter Paul George. On paper, the East has the more deadly squad, but as we’ve seen in the past, anything is possible.
Regardless, it will be fun for Warriors fans to see one of their own players back in the dunk contest. Barnes has hinted that he may pay tribute for former players (possible J-rich??) so all Warriors fans will be excited for Saturday night.
The All-Star Game
Finally, what Warriors fans are probably most excited for, comes the actual All-Star game. Stephen Curry was voted a starter, becoming the first Warriors player to start an All-Star game since Latrell Sprewell in 1995. Warriors fans had a large role in making sure that happened, as Curry led all players with votes between December 26th when the second returns were announced and January 23rd (Curry received 565,583 votes during that span, LeBron James was second with 562,314).
The All-Star game should be set up to highlight Curry’s skills. In exhibition games where there are little defenses and players have green lights, Curry will be able to show off his impressive handles and passing ability, but above all his unlimited range. The current record for three-pointers made in an All-Star game is six, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Curry broke that record and added another thing to his resume.