This past weekend basketball fans were treated to some amazing feats of athleticism from the best and brightest NBA stars. From the Three-Point Shootout to the Slam Dunk Contest to the All-Star Game itself, there was no lack of excitement. Let’s take a look at some of the takeaways from the weekend’s events.
1. Harris Can S-H-O-O-T
Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets came into the Three-Point Shootout with absolutely no hype. Many picked the Curry Brothers to own the event. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Seth Curry of the Portland Trailblazers were in their hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina for All-Star Weekend. This made for an intriguing story line to say the least.
In the first round, Harris shot first, scoring an impressive 25 points. That ended up putting him third overall and advanced him to the second round. He again shot first and upped his total to 26 points. This proved to be enough to best his remaining opponents in MVP Curry and Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings.
While Curry started off hot, he was not able to maintain that hot hand and hold off Harris. Defeating Curry, who is widely considered the greatest shooter of all-time, was a huge accomplishment for Harris. And he proved he can hold his own with the best of them!
2. Out of Originality
The 2019 Slam Dunk Contest showcased some great athletic displays from its’ competitors. John Collins (Atlanta Hawks), Hamidou Diallo (Oklahoma City Thunder), Dennis Smith Jr. (New York Knicks), and Miles Bridges (Charlotte Hornets) all put on quite a show.
All the dunks showed their great vertical leaping abilities. However, something seemed apparent from the get-go. Most of the dunks were just variations of ones done by past participants.
Rapper Quavo, NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal were all used as props to dunk over by the participants. This all seemed reminiscent of the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest in which Nate Robinson dunked over Dwight Howard.
Even the dunk in which Collins used a replica Wright Brothers airplane to dunk over, looked eerily similar to Blake Griffin dunking over the Kia in the 2011 contest. The most glaringly obvious one though, was Diallo putting his arm in the rim and doing the elbow lean that Vince Carter made popular in the 2000 contest.
This leads one to believe that maybe all the creative dunks have been done already.
Is the dunk contest now in an era of karaoke and cover songs?
Some creativity is needed in this event with new features. Or maybe an A-list of NBA dunk veterans need to compete in next year’s competition. LeBron anyone?
3. Khris Middleton Belongs
When Team Giannis and Team LeBron took the court for the All-Star game, it was guaranteed to be a star-studded spectacle. Many in attendance and watching from home were excited to see their favorite players. If you asked a random basketball fan who they were most excited to see, a variety of names would have been uttered.
Except for Khris Middleton of the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks. His teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo was the one getting all the fanfare. He was the second leading vote-getter from the fans, earning him a spot as a team captain.
Middleton, in his first All-Star appearance, never looked shaken on the court. Coming into the game he was averaging 17.1 points per game while shooting 37.8 percent from deep. He surpassed those numbers scoring 20 points, which tied him for second on Team Giannis with Paul George. He also shot a mind-blowing 60 percent from three, making 6-of-10 attempts. Mind you a lot of his threes were contested.
While his teammates, and typical three-point sharpshooters Curry and Kemba Walker looked to be in slumps, Middleton stayed hot from deep.
Moving forward it will be interesting to see how Middleton takes this experience and translates into the remainder of the regular season and postseason. Bucks players and fans alike are sure hoping this boost of confidence will help up his productivity come playoff time!
Yet again the NBA All-Star Weekend did not disappoint in the entertainment department. Great showings of skills and athleticism took place all weekend. All eyes are on Chicago next year. It would be great to see Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine walk through the sky.
We’ll just have to wait and see.