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FlagrantFlop's guide to All-Star 2017

Published by Yoshi on 11th February - 18:30 (CET)
Just a few days ago, DeMarcus Cousins got his 16th technical foul of the year, prompting an automatic one-game suspension - which must mean we are about halfway through the season. In other words, the All-Star Weekend is just around the corner! In anticipation of the February 17-19th festivities we have prepared for you a list of things to keep an extra eye out for - because we care!

Friday the 17th

The Rising Stars Challenge. Formerly known as the Rookie Challenge, and also formerly known as entertaining. While the "US Team vs World Team" format at least brings a tad bit more incentive to win than the horrendous "Team Chuck vs Team Whatever" format from a couple of years ago, this game has really lost the appeal it had when a gang of rookies were scrapping to beat their elders by one year who in turn were not particularly interested in letting the kids top them in public. Even if the sophomores generally won, the fight put up from both sides provided some great entertainment value. Now it's just a bunch of young players who are less excited by the game than they are to hook up with groupies later without having to wake up early for practice the next day. This is not really something to keep an eye on, but I guess I had to include it to have something to say about Friday.

Saturday the 18th

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Here's one where the format changes have been much more successful, as the NBA added big guys to the mix in last year's competition. Look for Isaiah Thomas to be hungry for the title this year after losing out to Karl-Anthony Towns in the final round of 2016. Also look for DeMarcus Cousins to pick up a tech after not getting a foul call when knocking over one of the obstacles.

The Three Point Contest. Stephen Curry is not in this year's contest despite still being the best shooter on the planet, so why pretend like it matters? Bring in LaMelo Ball!

The Dunk Contest. Now here you might as well flip a coin. There's no telling if this year's dunk contest will be a complete disaster as it has been in recent years or if something absolutely magical will happen like it did in 2016 when Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on arguably the most epic showdown in dunk contest history. Gordon will be back and competing against DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson version three, and Derrick Jones Jr from the D-League. The names don't really stir up too much hype, but you never know, maybe DJ will surprise us when he doesn't have Chris Paul yelling at him all the time.

Sunday the 19th

Ah, now let's get to the highlights to look for during the main event, the 2017 All-Star Game!

KD + Westbrook = True. Let's start with the easy one, since I know you know that I know that you know that this one would be on the list, but how couldn't it be? The two sweethearts wore the same colors for eight long years before Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to the Bay Area and leave Russell with nothing but Steven Adams' mustache and a thirst for revenge, and now they are set to play on the same team once again. Will they share minutes on the court? Will Russ deliver a single pass to KD? Will Scooby and the gang find out who really stole the Ming Dynasty vase? Stay tuned and find out!

Is anyone going to play defense? The All-Star game is obviously an exhibition, but the last few years have been absolutely ridiculous as the record for accumulated score has been beaten in three consecutive years; 318 in '14, 321 in '15 and 369 in '16. I'm all for putting on a show and all, but with some of the best defensive players in the world participating in the game, it gets kind of silly when teams average over 40 points per quarter. I would love to see Jimmy Butler skip the pleasantries and hold James Harden and his stupid beard to zero points throughout the game.

Third and final Finals preview. Look, we all know which two teams will be in the Finals this year - yes, I'm retracting my previous prediction - and with the season series between the Cavs and the Warriors being finished and tied, the All-Star showdown between starters Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Curry and KD along with bench players Kevin Love, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will provide us a last glimpse of things to come. The one-on-one duels between Irving and Curry or James and Durant will surely mean a little bit more than they would have meant without all the emotional memories from Finals past, and you just know that Kyrie will be whispering "3-1" in Curry's ear whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Bonus

With the trade deadline of February 23rd coming shortly after the All-Star break, make sure to also keep an eye out for player movement and rumors which might disrupt the festivities and change the NBA landscape for the second half of the season. Maybe this will be the year we finally see DeMarcus Cousins shipped off to where he belongs; anger management class. Ok, I'm done picking on DMC for today...

What do you look forward to this All-Star Weekend?

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