NBA All-Star Game 2022: Ranking Ja Morant and 3 Other Players to Watch

The NBA All-Star Game is a chance for the best basketball players in the world to get together and show off. Some take it more seriously than others, but it’s an up-and-down, high-scoring, defense-optional exhibition.

That format provides the opportunity for one to take over the game if one feels so inclined. The last five MVP Awards, for example, have gone to the player who finished the game with the most points. Take advantage of the wide-open lanes to the basket or uncovered threes, and you just might bring home some hardware while emptying your entire bag of skills in the process.

With that in mind, here are four players to watch in the 2022 All-Star Game.

4. Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT scored an all-time high 29 points in the final round of the 3-Point Contest, and he did plenty of screaming and flexing after. It obviously meant something to the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise cornerstone.

If the actual game means half as much, Towns has the talent and game suited to throw up 40 points and hit eight more threes in his sleep.

The 6-foot-11 center is averaging better than 24 points and nearly nine rebounds a night. He’s also dishing out more than four assists per game and is adding 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks for good measure.

He’s shooting 52.2% from the floor and 40.9% from deep on more than five attempts.

Perhaps more importantly, his team is solidly in position to make the postseason for just the second time in his career. If Towns decides he’s really shooting (no pun intended) for The Kobe Bryant MVP trophy, he has the tools to win it.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak put up one of the gaudiest stat lines in All-Star Game history on his way to winning last season’s MVP. Giannis didn’t miss a single shot — he was 16-for-16 and scored 35 points as he led his team to a victory.

He and brothers Thanasis and Alex fell short in the Skills Challenge, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. There is no lack of effort when it comes to any Antetonkounmpo, Giannis included.

Try telling him the All-Star Game is a run-of-the-mill exhibition at your own risk. There’s a good chance he singles you out and puts you on a poster if you do, whether it’s dunking in your face or swatting your shot into the 25th row.

For what it’s worth, Giannis is the betting favorite to win the game’s MVP, according to DraftKings.

2. LeBron James

LeBron is in his 19th NBA season, and his 18th All-Star Game just happens to take place back home in Cleveland, Ohio. It would be classic King James to win his fourth ASG MVP trophy — which would tie him for most in league history with Kobe and Bob Pettit — in this exact situation.

At 37-years-old, LBJ hasn’t slowed any signs of slowing down in 2021-22. He’s missed a few more games with injury, but when he wants to take over, there are still very few, if any, players on planet Earth who can stop him.

(He’s probably a little frustrated with how his regular season with the Los Angeles Lakers is going too.)

It’s hard to say someone like LeBron has something to prove. But if he feels like he does, this is the ideal environment for him to show everybody the NBA still goes through him.

1. Ja Morant

Morant certainly does have something to prove and show the world. And perhaps more than any other player on this list, the word “exhibition” isn’t going to slow him down.

That’s the perfect recipe for putting on a show in a format like the All-Star Game.

Ja is having one of the most dominant breakout seasons for a player in league history, both in the stat column and in the old-school eye test.

In his third season, the Memphis Grizzlies leader is averaging 26.8 points, 6.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. He’s shooting a career-high 49.5% from the floor on a career-high 20.2 field-goal attempts and is hitting 33.0% of his career-high 4.5 three-point attempts per game.

In actual games, the development of his outside shot has unlocked his ability to get to the rim, and the former Murray State Racer is one of, if not the best, finishers in the NBA.

He has no fear attacking the basket (eerily reminiscent of Allen Iverson), has no problem rising up and throwing down over anyone at all, and is the most skilled and crafty at-rim finisher in the league.

Morant has proven he can get any shot he wants, whenever he wants.

So if dominating the All-Star Game is what Ja wants, it will be what Ja gets.

All statistics according to Basketball Reference.

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