NBA All-Star Weekend: Ranking the 5 Events Actually Worth Watching

The 2022 NBA All-Star weekend is finally upon us. Regular-season games have come to a halt and most of the league has hopped on a plane to vacation somewhere warm and tropical.

But the NBA’s best took a different plane that landed in Cleveland instead for this year’s festivities.

The All-Star Game itself is the highlight of the weekend, and some of the events that used to draw in viewers (here’s looking at you, dunk contest) have lost their luster.

But 2022 has the potential to be one of the most enjoyable in recent seasons with a combination of new events, electric young stars, and Team LeBron vs. Team Durant.

From the Celebrity Game to the Rising Stars Game and everything in between, here are the five events fans should actually sit down and pay attention to during this season’s All-Star weekend:

5. The dunk contest actually has some potential this year

Date: Saturday, Feb. 19, final event of the night (evening begins with the Skills Challenge at 8 p.m. ET)

This year’s dunk contest could be one of the best since the famous Aaron Gordon vs. Zach LaVine rivalry of 2016. (The term “famous” can be applied loosely here).

Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green leads a field that includes New York Knicks high-flyer Obi Toppin, Orlando Magic rising star (we’ll get to that later) Cole Anthony, and the Golden State Warriors‘ Juan Toscano-Anderson.

Green and Toppin entered the league with “athleticism” tattooed on their foreheads (no, not literally). Toppin drew comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire coming out of the University of Dayton, while Green effortlessly lept over professional players as a member of the G-League Ignite before becoming the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Anthony doesn’t lack confidence and has the kind of flashiness that proves helpful in this event, and Toscano-Anderson will play the role of everyone’s favorite underdog.

The dunk contest has taken a dive off the popularity cliff over the last half-decade, but these four could be the ones to revive it.

4. The celebrity game will provide the opportunity for some hilarious 1-on-1 matchups

Date: Friday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m. ET

The celebrity game usually tops All-Star weekend’s list for the most unintentionally-funny events, and this year is no different. Here are the rosters for the 2022 game:

Team Walton, coached by NBA legend Bill Walton (probably the most unintentionally comedic media personality in all of basketball, so we’re off to a good start):

  • Jimmie Allen
  • Noah Carlock
  • Brittney Elena
  • Machine Gun Kelly
  • Dearica Hamby
  • Nyjah Huston
  • Matt James
  • Quavo
  • Ranveer Singh
  • Alex Toussaint
  • Anderson Varejao

Team Nique, coached by NBA legend Dominique Wilkins:

  • Anuel AA
  • Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb
  • Kane Brown
  • Myles Garrett
  • Booby Gibson
  • Tiffany Haddish
  • Jack Harlow
  • Crissa Jackson
  • Anjali Ranadive
  • Gianmarco Tamberi

So we could hypothetically see Quavo, a legitimately really good basketball player, cross up and drop the city’s mayor Allen Iverson-style. Or Dearica Hamby — a 2021 WNBA All-Star — could iso Tiffany Haddish on the wing. LeBron James‘ former starting center with the Cavs, 7-foot Anderson Varejao, could post up Kane Brown.

But the one matchup that has to happen, as The Ringer’s Dan Devine pointed out, is Cleveland Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett (listed at 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, according to NFL.com) taking MGK to the block.

3. Giannis and the Antetokounbros will light up the Skills Challenge

Date: Saturday, Feb. 19, 8 p.m. ET

Giannis Antetokounmpo is teaming up with brothers Thanasis and Alex as one of the trios competing in the 2022 Skills Challenge. They’ll take on Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers and rookies Scottie Barnes, Josh Giddey, and No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham.

The contest is broken down into four rounds: team shooting, team passing, team relay (basically a basketball version of an obstacle course), and a half-court shot. The half-court shot is the final round and will feature the two teams remaining — the first team to hit from half-court wins.

The whole thing is silly and 100% for entertainment, which is where Giannis and the Antetokounbros come in.

The Greek Freak is known, at least by Milwaukee Bucks fans, as one of the most genuinely hilarious superstars in the NBA. On Saturday night, all his dad jokes and breakdancing will hit the national stage for everyone to see.

2. The Rising Stars Game could be the most electric event of the weekend

Friday, Feb. 18, 9 p.m. ET

The first three events on this list are pretty goofy. The Rising Stars Game is by no means a serious one, but it’s the first on this list that will feature legitimate competition.

The rosters are stacked with the best young players in the league, and the NBA made everything more interesting by breaking said rosters into four seven-player teams for a sort of mini-tournament. Members of the G-League Ignite will be featured for the first time as well, so fans will get a glimpse of some of the top prospects in the 2022 draft.

Cunningham and Mobley are on a team together, which means pick-and-roll perfection and alley-oops galore. Tyrese Haliburton and Anthony Edwards — maybe the most athletic player in the league, regardless of age — should put on a show as Memphis Grizzlies‘ guard Desmond Bane spots up at the three-point line.

LaMelo Ball is tailor-made for literally any and every All-Star event. In this game, he’ll be tossing flashy passes from all angles and distances to the likes of Barnes and high-flying Warriors’ rookie Jonathan Kuminga.

Anthony will lead a team coached by James Worthy that also features Giddey, Green, and Magic teammate Jalen Suggs.

The games are played to 75 in honor of the NBA’s 75th anniversary season. The first two will be played to 50 and the championship game to 25.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that 110 of those 125 points come on dunks, beyond-the-back passes, three-quarter-court underhanded lobs, or whatever other unbelievably athletic, flashy plays these young guys can come up with.

1. Last but not least: The actual NBA All-Star Game

Date: Sunday, Feb 20, 8 p.m. ET

The rosters are as follows (starters in bold):

Team Durant:

  • Joel Embiid
  • Ja Morant
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Trae Young
  • LaMelo Ball
  • Devin Booker
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Zach LaVine
  • Khris Middleton
  • Dejounte Murray
  • Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Draymond Green

Team LeBron:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Stephen Curry
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • LeBron James
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Luka Doncic
  • Darius Garland
  • James Harden (whom KD straight-up refused to pick)
  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Chris Paul
  • Fred VanVleet

Everything said above about The Rising Stars Game except with the best basketball players in the world. Jokic hitting Giannis with a full-court, baseball-pass alley-oop. CP3 orchestrating something that resembles a real offense in the fourth quarter when both teams actually try.

Ja Morant and Joel Embiid throwing down over everyone on Team LeBron (possibly all at once).

The weekend is built around the actual All-Star Game, and if nothing else, this one always seems to deliver.

All information courtesy of NBA.com.

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