The Coat of Arms staff makes their picks for the various events at All-Star weekend in LA. Creative commons photo: Wikipedia
Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks will win the dunk contest. He has shown a plethora of jaw dropping slams this year. In his rookie year, Smith Jr. will be pumped up for his first time competing in the dunk contest. Smith Jr.’s 48 inch vertical ties the NBA vertical leap record. Even though he is the shortest in the contest standing at 6’2”, he makes up for it with his insane leaping ability. Short guys with hops always seem to wow the crowd in the contest; If he can take after victors like Spud Webb to Nate Robinson, he’ll have a good shot.
I predict Devin Booker, of the Phoenix Suns, to win the 3-point contest. His nickname is the lightskin assassin because of his deadly shooting ability. In addition, he embraces the mamba mentality, so I expect him to be locked in when the competition starts. Booker makes scoring look easy. Last year, he dropped 72 points on the Boston Celtics. While the competition is stacked with snipers this year. I am going with the youngest contestant, who is 21 years old, to win.
I predict Joel Embiid, of the Philadelphia 76ers, to win the Taco Bell skills challenge. Embiid is truly a wizard with the ball. He is the largest contestant standing at seven feet and weighing 250 pounds. Also, Embiid is a skilled three point shooter. In addition, he has some of the most advanced ball handling skills and finishing packages. I think his only real competition is Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers. He has sweet handles and is an excellent three point shooter, but I do not think Williams has enough in him to defeat Embiid.
Connor Van Ligten:
There’s a new sheriff in Indiana. Victor Oladipo has made fools out of those who laughed at the Paul George trade, leading the way for the new-look Pacers. This dunk contest will be an opportunity for Dipo to continue his excellence. His speed, leap, and flashiness is unmatched. Oladipo will keep rolling, and nobody else in the contest can stop him.
Paul “No OT tonight” George has the ability to shoot well from the 3pt line as long as it’s not actually in an important situation. Since this the all-star weekend and not the 4th quarter of an basketball game, PG13’s 3PT shooting will be sharp. His arch nemesis known as crunchtime is nowhere to be seen during the all-star weekend, so George should have this challenge in the bag.
The bigs have dominated the skills challenge in recent years, and for good reason. The modern NBA requires nimble, passing, shooting bigs who can keep up with fast-paced ball. Bulls rookie stud Lauri Markkanen fits this mold perfectly, leading the youth movement in Chicago. His nimble passing and quick post movement translate perfectly to the skills challenge, and this agile rookie will take the crown.
Klay Thompson has been a premier shooter in the NBA his entire career. It’s no different this year, with Thompson leading the league in three point field goal percentage with 45.4%. Winning in 2016, Thompson clearly has the ability to outshoot any of his peers in the NBA. His consistency behind the arc should guide him to the another title this year.
In his third season in the NBA, Larry Nance Jr. has established himself as one of the league’s premier dunkers. He shocked the basketball world last year with his mean poster over Brook Lopez, his massive hops. His athletic ability will allow him to do unique slam dunks and beat out his competitors in terms of power. Taking after his dad, Nance Jr. should win the title for the first time in his career.
Lou Williams has showed us this year that he is an all-star caliber player. While it was disappointing to see him not get selected for the all-star team this year, he has a very good chance of winning the skills challenge. This year, Williams is averaging a career high in points and assists --he’s playing at the top of his game and should be able to put his impressive skills on display.