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All-Star Game 2023 predictions: dunk contest, 3-point winner, Kobe Bryant MVP & more

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The 2023 NBA All-Star weekend kicks off with the Jordan Rising Stars game on Friday night and ends with the All-Star game on Sunday. In-between, fans will get to see some of the league’s greatest duke it out in various competitions. 

Predicting winners isn’t as simple as just going chalk. In fact, none of last year’s favorites — Jalen Green (Dunk), Fred VanVleet (3-point) and Team Rookies (Skills) — ended up winning. Of particular note is Karl-Anthony Towns who won the 3-point contest despite the longest odds at +1,400.

Offering up picks for All-Star weekend is tricky business, and yet here we are! 

Who will win every event and contest? Which team and player will be honored during Sunday’s main event? Here are my predictions. 


Rising stars prediction

There will be four teams competing in a three-game mini-tournament, comprised of NBA rookies, sophomores, and G-League players at 9pm ET on Friday, Feb 17.

Those four teams will be led by captains Deron Williams, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and Jason Terry. 

Team Pau Gasol

Player Team
Paolo Banchero Magic
Bennedict Mathurin Pacers
Jaden Ivey Pistons
Scottie Barnes Raptors
Jose Alvarado Pelicans
Keegan Murray Kings
Andrew Nembhard Pacers

Team Deron Williams

Player Team
Franz Wagner Magic
Jalen Green Rockets
Alperen Sengun Rockets
Trey Murphy III Pelicans
AJ Griffin Hawks
Bones Hyland Nuggets
Walker Kessler Jazz

Team Joakim Noah

Player Team
Evan Mobley Cavaliers
Josh Giddey Thunder
Jalen Williams Thunder
Jeremy Sochan Spurs
Quentin Grimes Knicks
Jabari Smith Jr. Rockets
Jalen Duren Pistons

Team Jason Terry

Player Team
Sidy Cissoko G League Ignite
Mojave King G League Ignite
Scoot Henderson G League Ignite
Kenneth Lofton Jr. Memphis Hustle
Mac McClung Delaware Blue Coats
Leonard Miller G League Ignite
Scotty Pippen Jr. South Bay Lakers

Team Deron probably has the most talent. Franz Wagner is the best player in the game, and they have the best two centers in Walker Kessler and Alperin Sengun along with two of the best shooters in Trey Murphy III and Bones Hyland. 

I’m going with the dark horse though — Team Jason, full of G-League players. They’re the least talented but will try the hardest. And effort is going to be a pretty big factor, as the winner will have to play two games in a row. 

Prediction: Team Jason

Skills challenge prediction

The Kia Skills challenge will take place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8pm ET between three teams:

Team Players
Antetokounmpos Alex Antetokounmpo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo
Jazz Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton
Rooks Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Jabari Smith Jr.

The Antetokounmpos have been in this competition before, finishing dead last in 2022. That had to have hurt their pride, and their experience combined with the hunger to win makes them my pick. 

Prediction: Team Antetokounmpos

3-Point contest prediction

The Starry 3-point contest will be held directly after the Kia Skills Challenge. The participants are as follows: 

Name 3-point percentage
Jayson Tatum 35.7%
Tyler Herro 36.9%
Damian Lillard 37.2%
Anfernee Simons 38.1%
Kevin Huerter 39.2%
Tyrese Haliburton 39.9%
Lauri Markkanen 41.2%
Buddy Hield 42.6%

I’m picking Hield to win. Not only does he have the highest 3-point percentage this season, but he won the event back in 2020.

Prediction: Buddy Hield

Dunk contest prediction

The Slam Dunk contest will be the last event on Saturday night. The participants are as follows:

Player Team
Kenyon Martin Jr. Rockets
Mac McClung Delaware Blue Coats, G League
Trey Murphy III Pelicans
Jericho Sims Knicks

While he is the least-known of the group, Mac McClung is the easy favorite here. He has the underdog story, and he has built a massive 820,000 followers on Instagram thanks to his vicious dunks.

No other contestant has put in close to the amount of time planning out their routine. McClung has been preparing for this moment for years. All-Star Saturday night will be McClung’s “hello, world” moment. He’s also only 6-2, making his dunks pop.

Prediction: Mac McClung

All-Star Game winner and MVP prediction

For years, NBA fans have clamored for a school-yard style All-Star draft. This year, that’s exactly what we’ll get.

Team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will pick the All-Star teams at 7:30 p.m. ET in a live draft with the game scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. ET.

LeBron hasn’t been a good general manager of the Lakers, but he has been great at picking All-Star teams. His teams are 4-0, including two wins over Team Giannis back in 2019 and 2020. 

This is an easy pick. 

Prediction: Team LeBron

There are two general trends when it comes to All-Star MVPs — there are rarely repeat winners, and big men almost never win.

Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kyrie Irving have all won the award already. They probably won’t be gunning for it this year. 

Luka Doncic is probably the best player still left in that field, but he has always put up pedestrian numbers and been happy to take it easy that day. He’s already said that the part of the day he’s looking most forward to is when he flies to Mexico after the game is finished.

My first instinct was to go with Joel Embiid, who scored 36 in last year’s game. But with Embiid questionable to play, I’m going with Lauri Markkanen. He has the home-court advantage and is a big-time scorer. Fun fact: The only other time Utah hosted the NBA All-Star game back in 1993, Jazz teammates John Stockton and Karl Malone took home co-MVP honors. Can Markkanen repeat history? I say yes.

Prediction: Lauri Markkanen


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