There are not many All Star games that are actually worth watching, but this weekend in Los Angeles the true stars of the NBA are expected to put on a show.
This game has two advantages over the recent NFL and NHL All Star showings.
As far as talent goes, the NBA All Star game is leaps and bounds ahead of both. In fact there were so many withdrawals from the NFL game that the sophomore-rookie matchup probably has more talent than that game. While defense may be lax for the first three quarters, this still remains a basketball game unlike the hockey or football where there is no checking or blitzing respectively.
The best of the best in the league will be on show in Los Angeles playing a proper basketball game with actual incentive to watch.
Let's find out why.
*Yao Ming has been removed from this article because of injury
Rosters East-Doc Rivers Derrick Rose Dwayne Wade Lebron James Amar'e Stoudemire Dwight Howard
Kevin Garnett Rajon Rondo Paul Pierce Al Horford Chris Bosh Ray Allen Joe Johnson West-Gregg Popovich Chris Paul Kobe Bryant Carmelo Anthony Kevin Durant Tim Duncan
Manu Ginobli Pau Gasol Blake Griffin Kevin Love Dirk Nowitzki Russell Westbrook Deron Williams
Young gun's taking over:
Derrick Rose's assault on the league's MVP race has come at the ripe age of 22. His performances this season have overshadowed the big three in Miami and now he gets to play alongside both Dwayne Wade and Lebron James. Rose is a scoring point guard but also averages above 8 assists per game. James and Wade have a combined 14 All Star appearances and it will be intriguing to see how Rose works at the helm of a star studded lineup who he ferociously competes against.
On the Western side of the ball the youngest ever scoring title winner in NBA history is starting at Power Forward. Kevin Durant averaged over 30 points per game last season on one of the youngest teams in the league. While his numbers are slightly down he has still averaged 29 points per game this season. Durant's Thunder team is fantastically talented but he is the leader and the offense is run through him. This weekend he will be sharing a team with Kobe Bryant. Now that Durant has already made his first All Star appearance, the battle between them for the basketball this weekend will be riveting.
The Blake effect:
Any average NBA fan will already know what I'm talking about but Blake Griffin's rookie season has been unlike any other. Griffin has made a point of dunking on every possible occasion. He is a high flying physical specimen that has a knack for getting in the face of his opponents. He will probably not be too happy that he is on the bench also.
That's just one game...
That's just one month...I'll let you look for the rest.
The final quarter matchups: Once the game gets serious, there will be match-ups to watch all over the court.
Derrick Rose vs Chris Paul Rose and Paul are vying to be the best point guard in the league. They are already the top two of an outstanding class where Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook must be satisfied with places on the bench while former league MVP Steve Nash must watch the game from home. Paul should be considered in the MVP race along with Rose as he has been brilliant with an average supporting class in New Orleans.
Dwayne Wade vs Kobe Bryant Bryant and Wade are easily top five players in the league and arguably complete the top three behind Lebron James. It's just another occasion for them to battle it out for the mantle of the best shooting guard in the league. Bryant will likely be as determined as any of his previous 12 All Star appearances as the break comes during a torrid time for the Lakers.
Lebron James vs Carmelo Anthony Anthony is still trying to force his way out of Denver so a good showing against the best player in the league could only aid his cause. Lebron will likely step aside and allow his teammates to play out the game predominantly but a half interested Lebron James is better than some of the better players in the league.
Amar'e Stoudemire vs Kevin Durant Two players who have the ability to score from almost anywhere on the court and could easily drop 30 points on any given night. Durant and Stoudemire are starters but don't be surprised to see Kevin Garnett featuring heavily in the fourth quarter as Doc Rivers turns to his Celtics. It would match up Garnett(old school star) against Durant(new school star).
Dwight Howard vs Tim Duncan Tim Duncan is maybe going down as the best Power Forward of all time. Dwight Howard is the most dominant center in the league. It is a battle of two towering players who maybe won't get much opportunity to shine in this type of game but nonetheless can bring a lot to the game if their number is called.
Star Depth: Rajon Rondo Ray Allen Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett Al Horford
What is that? Four Celtics plus a Hawk? Yes. A lineup worthy of being All Star starters? Yes. Three future hall of famers with two of the best young players in the league? Yes. The East bench? Unbelievably, Yes.
Russell Westbrook Manu Ginobli Dirk Nowitzki Blake Griffin Kevin Love
The West bench? Westbrook's stardom is only overshadowed because he plays with Kevin Durant. He is an amazing young talent who can do it all. Ginobli has already won a few NBA titles and is one of the most exciting and clutch players in the league. Dirk is the best pure shooting small forwards in the league. Griffin (see above) Kevin Love is having one of the best rebounding seasons in NBA history while still putting up huge scoring numbers.
Players not making either team's second teams: Deron Williams, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh. Williams is averaging near to a double double. Gasol was an integral part of the Lakers championship team last season. Joe Johnson can score from anywhere. Chris Bosh is the third piece of the big three in Miami.
Letting loose: Players may not put in a huge amount of effort defensively, but look for great explosion and plenty of high flying, not to mention scoring, this weekend. Players always look to put on a show in the all star game and with the talent levels going to Los Angeles, there is certain to be plenty to look out for.
Conclusion: The NBA All Star game is a must watch this season. It lacks the exhibition feeling to the NFL game and the friendliness of the NHL.