It’s that time of the year again. All-Star Weekend. With a mix of celebrities, several competitions and the actual All-Star Game itself, the NBA takes the cake in this department. This year should be no different. In fact, with all of the star power, the weekend could be better than ever.
There will be several newcomers in this year’s game and one of those newcomers, New Orleans Pelicans‘ big man Anthony Davis, headlines this list.
Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
Vegas has taken notice of Davis, giving him 3/1 odds to win MVP of the Rising Stars Game Friday night, making him the overwhelming favorite. That shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone, but the fact that Vegas has given Davis 10/1 odds of being named MVP of the actual All-Star Game, may surprise some. Only Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder (3/1), LeBron James of the Miami Heat (7/2) and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (17/2) have better odds. Davis wasn’t originally named to the All-Star team, which is absolutely ridiculous, but he’s is Los Angeles Lakers‘ guard Kobe Bryant’s replacement. In only his second season, the #1 overall pick of the 2012 draft is averaging 20.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 1.6 steals and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 52.2% from the field and 76.0% from the free throw line. It will be interesting to see how he defends the league’s elite and if he can continue to improve offensively.
Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
The game’s best point guard makes an appearance on this list for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Paul is just returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for 18 games. However, he has showed few signs, if any, of the injury since his return. On Wednesday night, in a 122-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, Paul had 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting, dished out 12 assists, grabbed four rebounds and had three steals. Still, it will be interesting just to see if the injury has any effect on Paul’s play. Obviously, the Clippers need Paul 100% healthy if they plan to make any noise in the postseason this year. He is averaging 19.2 points, 11.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Paul was the MVP of last year’s All-Star Game.
Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard is going to be the star of All-Star Weekend. Lillard, who won the Skills Challenge last year, will be defending his crown with his teammate, Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke. He’ll also play in the Rising Stars Game, participate in the Three Point Contest, take part in the Slam Dunk Contest and play in Sunday night’s All-Star Game. Lillard has put up big numbers (20.7 points, 5.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game) and he and fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldrdige, have led the Blazers to a 36-17 record, tied for third in the Western Conference. This will be Lillard’s first appearance in the game and he will certainly be looking to end his weekend in impressive fashion.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
The former #1 overall pick has frustrated some, but his importance was magnified last season. The Wizards were 5-28 without Wall in the lineup and 24-25 with him in the 2012-13 season. Wall was rewarded with a max contract in the offseason and although the Wizards are just 25-27, they are currently a playoff team in the lowly Eastern Conference and Wall is putting up excellent numbers. The top overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft is averaging 19.8 points, 8.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 42.0% from the field, 32.1% from beyond the arc and 83.6% from the charity stripe. Wall will be eager to prove that he belongs in the elite company that he is playing with on Sunday night.
Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers
No player has made the rise that George has over the last year. He exploded onto the national season in the postseason, guiding the Pacers to within a game of the NBA Finals – they lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games. George has taken a huge step this season, averaging 22.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 43.8% from the field, 37.0% from beyond the arc and 85.6% from the charity stripe. George has seemingly officially made the jump into elite status and although he is not on the level of the game’s best player, Miami Heat forward LeBron James, or the game’s best scorer, Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant, he is on the tier right behind them. He wants to prove that he is closer to that pair than most think.