Many people fear change. While a necessary part of life, it can be understandable as forming habits makes life simpler and more streamlined. Sometimes it is not only necessary to change- but better. But are the changes to NBA's All Star Saturday Night an improvement?
The Shooting Stars competition -which compiles one current NBA player, one former star and a current WNBA player- has only seen one slight change. Instead of the teams of three being from one city, the teams are made up of three stars with location not playing a factor:
Team 1: Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks); Tim Hardaway Sr. (Legend); Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky)
Team 2: Chris Bosh (Miami Heat); Dominique Wilkins (Legend); Swin Cash (Chicago Sky)
Team 1: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Dell Curry (Legend); Becky Hammon (San Antonio Stars)
Team 2: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Karl Malone (Legend); Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock)
No one seems to ever care or remember about this competition as it is mainly a time-killer. Also, with the half-court shot being a little more difficult and not a measured statistic, it is harder to give any one team sole advantage. But with players like Curry and Durant in the mix, odds are it will come down to those two stars' squads. I give the edge to Curry and his dad who was also known for his accuracy from deep.
The recurring theme in this year's new changes is teamwork. Instead of eight individuals going for the best overall time, teams of two battle it out to see who the best duo is. I for one am not a fan of this, as I prefer to see one man named the best. The teams are:
Giannis Antetokounmpo/Demar DeRozan
Michael Carter-Williams/ Victor Oladipo
Trey Burke/ Damian Lillard
Goran Dragic/Reggie Jackson
While it is fun to see stars such as Lillard and Dragic as well as superb rookies like Carter-Williams and Oladipo, the overall talent level is lacking compared to years' past. Also, the duos seem to be thrown together outside of the Williams/Oladipo rookie pairing. Antetokounmpo and DeRozan will finish last while the championship will come down to Williams/Oladipo and Burke/Lillard. I give the edge to the West.
Three Point Contest:
The biggest and most intriguing change comes courtesy of the three-point shootout. Instead of just five money balls (each at the end of the rack), players will get to choose where they want a rack full of money balls. This gives the shooter an element to plan advantage wise. Better at corner three's? Dead accurate from the center? Have a favorite spot on the wing? It is a new wrinkle, and one worth watching indeed. Contestants include:
Bradley Beale, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Aaron Afflalo, Kyrie Irving, Joe Johnson and Marco Belinelli.
Curry is far and away the leader in made threes (171) with Lillard third (149). Makes me wonder where Klay Thompson ( who ranks second with 152) is. Lillard will fight and Beale will make it interesting. But Curry is so automatic that this contest is his to lose.
The dunk contest has lost tons of credibility from its glory days of Jordan/Wilkins/Webb and Carter/Francis. The field was made smaller and later on it was a bunch of players no one would recognize. Often after they showed a player, fans would go, "Who?". This year- like the rest of All-Star Saturday Night- is different.The field:
Paul George, Terrance Ross, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard, Ben McLemore.
The first thing you notice is the star power. Finally, contestants the public recognizes. George is not only a three-time dunkee, but also a top-five player in the NBA. Ross won last year. Out of the rest, all eyes will be on Lillard and if he can run the table contest-wise. Wall should be practicing his jumper and three instead of dunking.
The other change is the initial round will be known as the "freestyle round". Dunkers of both conferences (three in each) will get 90 seconds to do as many dunks as possible. one conference will be deemed winner, and in individual match-ups will be given the chance to dunk first or last. After the match-ups are over, a conference will be chosen as the winner.
I can't stand this new change. It makes no sense. People don't watch this to see what three players are better. They watch to see who the best dunker is. What was once promising with the added two players and overall talent pool is dragged down by this nonsensical addition. While fans get to choose dunker of the night, it should simply be chosen by the ratings. Save the conference pride for Sunday's game.
This contest will come down to come down to consistency, really. In past years, sometimes a player will over-exert themselves to impress the crowd and tire out. In a traditional contest, I'd pick George first, Ross second and Barnes third. Based off the top two being from the East, I'd have to choose that conference as this year's winner.
Change is good when done for the right reasons and intentions. But for the sake of it? No thanks. While the NBA should be commended for thinking outside the box, the changes they have instituted seem to make little sense.
Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know @SeanNeutron.