Kurt Helin

Embiid, Towns, Porzingis to headline All-Star Friday Rising Stars Challenge

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Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, and Karl-Anthony Towns would much rather be playing on the Sunday of All-Star weekend, taking part in the big show. That’s also unlikely.

But both will be in New Orleans for the Friday night festivities, on Feb. 17, when first- and second-year players get the stage for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.

Once again it will be a USA vs. the World format for the event, and here are the rosters:

U.S. TEAM ROSTER

Devin Booker (Suns)
Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks)
Marquese Chriss (Suns)
Brandon Ingram (Lakers)
Frank Kaminsky (Hornets)
Jahlil Okafor (76ers)
D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
Jonathon Simmons (Spurs)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves)
Myles Turner (Pacers)

WORLD TEAM ROSTER

Joel Embiid (76ers)
Danté Exum (Jazz)
Buddy Hield(Pelicans)
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Trey Lyles (Jazz)
Emmanuel Mudiay (Nuggets)
Jamal Murray (Nuggets)
Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
Domantas Sabonis (Thunder)
Dario Saric (76ers)

Towns/Turner/Okafor vs. Embiid/Jokic/Porzingis up front? Sign me up.

Of course, like any pickup game, the guards will have the ball in their hands, they have to feed the big guys, and they will determine the course of the game. Jamal Murray and Jonathon Simmons may well decide which team gets the pick-up game W (and gets to stay on the court… no, I guess not in this case).

The game takes place at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, and for those that love to see the future of the NBA play no defense the game will be broadcast on TNT at 9 p.m. ET (it will also be available on the Watch TNT App and on TNT Overtime).

Report: Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III to compete in All-Star Dunk Contest

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Glenn Robinson III seems to have found a spot in the NBA as part of the Pacers’ bench, playing 22 minutes a night and getting more run from Nate McMillan than any previous NBA coach he had.

Robinson also seems to have found a spot in the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, via Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Suns lightly-used rookie Derrick Jones (played in just two games) may also be taking part.

It’s going to be hard for this year’s dunk contest to live up to the Zach LaVine/Aaron Gordon spectacular from last season, but make no mistake Robinson can get up and throw it down.

Report: Cavaliers not interested in Carmelo Anthony. Why would they be?

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For the past week, this particular topic of conversation has felt like the current national political discourse: No amount of logic or facts will quell the rumor.

That rumor is that the Cavaliers would be willing to trade Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony.

Yes, LeBron James wants Cleveland to add another playmaker. Yes, Anthony can create shots for himself and get a team buckets. Yes, one of Phil Jackson’s confidant’s write Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland, Yes, LeBron and Anthony are good friends. However, what LeBron really wants is to win titles in the next few years and 28-year-old and at his peak Love gets the Cavs much closer to that than 33-year-old and declining, ball-stopping Anthony — and LeBron is smart enough to know that.

I honestly don’t even know how this got to be a rumor with legs. Love is a better player right now — particularly on the defensive end, where Anthony has dropped off and Love can fit in a team system. Love is five years younger and a few million less expensive (remember, the Cavs already have the highest payroll in the NBA). Love and Anthony are about equally good shooters. Plus, Love has already adjusted to playing next to LeBron and how to fit within that offense — you think Anthony will blend in smoothly working off the ball and being expected to move it quickly rather than pound the rock and survey the defense? This trade has never made any sense for Cleveland, it only lives in the fevered fantasies of some Knicks fans and people trying to just generate eyeballs online.

Can we just kill it now? The Cavs would never make this move. LeBron is too smart to want it.

Same thing goes for anyone entertaining the Anthony for Blake Griffin dream. Let it go.

Will Joel Embiid make the All-Star Game? Sorry Philly fans, but…

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Joel Embiid in the All-Star Game would be exactly what this mid-season exhibition should be — entertaining. Fun. There would be dunks, blocks, mugging for the camera, joking around with teammates, and besides nobody plays more than 28 minutes anyway. If this is an exhibition game for the entertainment of the fans, then who embodies that more right now than Embiid?

And he’s probably not going to make the cut.

Sorry, Philly fans.

Those fans — and all the ones that voted worldwide, even Team Zaza from Georgia — voted to make Embiid a starter for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game. However, once the media and player votes were factored in he fell to fourth behind Jimmy Butler (LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were in easily as the other frontcourt players).

If Embiid is to be a rookie All-Star now it falls to the coaches to pick him, they select the reserves (to be announced Thursday). The coaches do vote for three more frontcourt players, plus they have two wild cards spots to hand out. That’s probably not going to be enough. It’s difficult to see Embiid getting the coaches’ votes ahead of guys such as Paul George, Kevin Love, and Paul Millsap (three frontcourt players). There are two wild card spots, but there are so many good guards in the East that group likely soaks up both slots there. That leaves Embiid out in the cold.

It’s difficult to see Embiid getting the coaches’ votes ahead of guys such as Paul George, Kevin Love, and Paul Millsap (three frontcourt players). Is Embiid more fun than those guys? More impactful when on the court? Yes, and arguably yes. But coaches are old-school guys who like reliability, men who pay their dues and earn their spots, and they like subtlety in players’ games. You know, guys like Millsap. There are two wild card spots, but there are so many good guards in the East that group likely soaks up both slots there. That leaves Embiid out in the cold. Zach Lowe of ESPN spoke with executives about Embiid as All-Star and summed it up perfectly.

I’ve been polling team executives on Embiid’s candidacy for the last week, and the response of one Embiid supporter stood out. He lobbied for Embiid over Millsap largely because Embiid would be more fun. Millsap’s game is all subtle positioning, canny passing, and laborious drives to the rim. There is no room for subtlety in the All-Star Game, this person reasoned.

And then he concluded: “I realize that’s not really fair to Paul Millsap.”

The real problem isn’t Embiid’s play, it’s how often he is playing. He’s missed 13 games this season due to rest and injury, and thanks to his minute’s restriction has played just 758 minutes all season. “Not fun” Millsap is at 1,427 minutes in 42 games. Other guys who can make a case for an All-Star slot are Kristaps Porzingis (1,312 minutes in 39 games) and Hassan Whiteside (1,379 minutes in 41 games). Coaches are going to take that into account when voting, this is how they think. Do you really think NBA coach = fun? Maybe Steve Kerr does but after that?

One thing that could happen: The coaches don’t vote Embiid in, but one of the front court players ahead of him suffers a minor injury and decides to sit out the game (this usually happens to a couple players who make the team each season). Adam Silver would name the replacement, and he likely will lean heavily on the fan vote to guide him, which would get Embiid a spot. Just something to watch.

Joel Embiid is going to make a lot of All-Star Games down the line. Hopefully with Ben Simmons, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. What Embiid has shown this season makes him more than the Rookie of the Year, it makes him an obvious franchise cornerstone (if he can stay healthy).

It just doesn’t make him an All-Star. Yet.

 

Korean League All-Stars stop mid-game to do mannequin challenge

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This is not something you will see at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. Unless Joel Embiid makes the cut, then all bets are off.

The mannequin challenge has gone the way of planking and the ice bucket challenge here in America, but don’t tell the Korean Basketball League All-Stars that — they stopped mid-game to do the challenge recently. The KBL knows how to get attention. You can see the video above. It’s the best mannequin challenge I’ve seen in a couple of months. Also, the only one. Because the trend is dead.

Can we just say that set before the shot went up and the challenge started… that was not exactly quick or well executed.