NBA Power Rankings: Nine-game win streak launches Jazz to No.2


Nobody is catching the LeBron James and the Lakers so far this season, but Shaq is wrong about the Jazz, who have won nine in a row with a quality ensemble cast and elite defense (kind of like the 2004 Pistons, a team Shaq might be familiar with).

Lakers small icon 1. Lakers (14-4 Last Week No. 1). At points the Lakers seem to get a little bored and play with their food — blowing a 19-point lead to the Warriors, for example — but most of the time it doesn’t matter because their defense is better than the one that won them a title last season (2.1 per 100 possessions better, a significant amount). The other difference is the Lakers are more of a threat from three, shooting 38.9% as a team this season (fifth in the league), up from 34.9% last season. The Lakers have four games remaining on this road trip, but they are 10-0 on the road this season.

Jazz small icon 2. Jazz (13-4 LW 5). Winners of nine in a row, the Jazz have been elite on both ends of the court in this run. The biggest difference between this Jazz team and the one that lost to Denver in the playoffs? Point Guard Mike Conley is back to playing at a near All-Star level. Last season, as he struggled with injury and adjusting to a new team, he was not himself and was pretty pedestrian. Now, he’s putting up 16.4 points a game, shooting 42.2% from three, organizing the offense like a veteran, and giving the Jazz another quality perimeter defender. Donovan Mitchell is out Wednesday (and maybe longer) due to a concussion.

Clippers small icon3. Clippers (13-5, LW 2). The Clippers’ win streak ended in Atlanta because they were without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George due to COVID-19 protocols, and L.A. is expected to be without the pair through the end of the week (they have a back-to-back against Miami and Orlando Thursday and Friday). One bright spot for the Clippers this season is the play of Nicolas Batum, who has dropped some weight and found a role in the starting five, scoring 10 points a game, shooting 45.3% from three, and keeping the ball moving on offense.

Bucks small icon 4. Bucks (10-6, LW 4). It’s not the losses to the Nets and Lakers recently that are concerning — teams evolve over the course of a season. Being a step behind those squads now doesn’t matter, it’s about where they are in June during the playoffs. What is concerning is the team’s three-point shooting let them down in those losses — they shot 30.3% in those games, shooting in big moments remains an ongoing concern in Milwaukee. It is also worth noting that Khris Middleton had the ball in the clutch against the Nets, not Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Sixers small icon 5. 76ers (12-6 LW 11). While Joel Embiid is rightfully getting a lot of attention — he is playing at an MVP level and dominated two games against the Celtics this past week — people are missing how well Tobias Harris is playing reunited with Doc Rivers. He’s averaging 19.8 points a game and is doing it very efficiently, shooting 45.8% from three (his 61.5 true shooting percentage is a career-best). Philly is +22.6 points per 100 possessions better with Harris on the court this season, and while there is a lot of noise in that stat, it speaks to how well he is playing so far. Great test against the Lakers Wednesday.

Celtics small icon 6. Celtics (10-6, LW 6). Boston’s 110.1 defensive rating this season (16th in the league) is the worst of the Brad Stevens era. That defense has been a little better the past couple of weeks (108.7, 10th best in the NBA over the Celtics’ last six games), but they had no answer for Joel Embiid in losing both games of a set to Philly. The Celtics have 6-of-7 coming up on the road, where they are 5-4 this season (and the one home game is the Lakers).

Nuggets small icon 7. Nuggets (10-7 LW 12). Denver has finally found a groove, winning four in a row, including taking both games in a set from Phoenix (both in overtime). The key has been better defense, plus a more balanced offense not needing Nikola Jokic to carry everything (he is no longer averaging a triple-double for the season, he “only” is dishing out 9.3 assists a game). Michael Porter Jr. is back in the rotation and hit 10-of-18 shots on his way to a team-high 30 points, including six made threes, in a win against Dallas.

Nets small icon 8. Nets (11-8, LW 3). The two recent losses to the red-hot Collin Sexton and the Cavaliers continue to highlight Brooklyn’s defensive issues — the Cavs had struggled on offense coming in then had a 124 offensive rating in those two games. That defense puts a lot of pressure on Brooklyn’s big three, but the win against the Bucks — with Kevin Durant draining the game-winner — shows the trio can handle it, and this team’s offense can still take it a long way.

Pacers small icon 9. Pacers (10-7, LW 7). Good news, Domantas Sabonis’ knee injury turned out just to be a bruise, and he is day-to-day and will not miss much time. Malcolm Brogdon has been overlooked a little this season nationally and deserves a shout out. The offense fell on his shoulders (especially after Victor Oladipo was traded), and he has averaged 22.7 points and 7.2 assists a game as the primary shot creator. He is playing at an All-Star level and drained the game-winner to beat a frisky Orlando team in overtime.

Spurs small icon 10. Spurs (9-8, LW 8). After a rough start to the season, LaMarcus Aldridge seems to be finding his groove again, scoring at least 23 points a game in each of the last four Spurs’ contests. What’s changed? He’s knocking down his midrange shots again, especially from the top of the key and left elbow areas. Patty Mills and Rudy Gay continue to not get enough praise for their play off the bench in San Antonio this year. Big tests against Boston and Denver coming up this week.

Blazers small icon 11. Trail Blazers (9-7, LW 9). Portland has gone 1-2 so far with both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic out of the lineup, and that win is only because a rested Damian Lillard went off for 39 against New York. The Blazers defense was bottom five in the league before Nurkic went down — it is 29th, second-worst in the league, now (using Cleaning the Glass stats) — and if the only way they can win games until he returns is Lillard going nuclear, Portland will start to slide down in the standings (and these rankings). Starting Thursday, the team is on the road for six straight.

Suns small icon 12. Suns (8-7 LW 10). After that red-hot start, Phoenix has lost four of five as a couple of unexpected problems have started to catch up with them. One is that despite having Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the Suns are a below-average pick-and-roll team (20th in the league via Synergy Sports). The other is that they have struggled in clutch games, ones within three points in the final three minutes. Phoenix’s offense has not been good enough to cover for defensive lapses of late, and these Suns need it to.

Grizzlies small icon 13. Grizzlies (7-6, LW 13). They haven’t played a game since our last rankings due to coronavirus protocols, making it tough to move them up or down in the standings. When thinking about players who look ready for their first All-Star appearance this season, Ja Morant leaps to mind in the West — except he likely will not play enough games to sway voters, or the coaches who round out the roster. Morant has only played in five games this season (but has looked great in those games).

Warriors small icon 14. Warriors (9-8, LW 14). Steve Kerr finally adjusted the starting five — which had struggled — in a win over the hapless Timberwolves, moving Kevon Looney into the starting five and bringing rookie James Wiseman off the bench. That may be a smart move, taking some of the pressure off Wiseman as he tries to develop his game. Kelly Oubre‘s name is already popping up in trade rumors; expect that to continue through the deadline. Also, expect Stephen Curry to continue to play at an MVP level.

Hawks small icon 15. Hawks (9-8 LW 15). One of the real surprises this season is Atlanta having a top 10 defense (seventh in the league overall, fifth using Cleaning the Glass’ garbage time filter). A couple of players deserve credit for that. In the paint it’s Clint Capela, who is blocking 2.3 shots a game and grabbing 14.8 rebounds a game, shoring up real problems for the Hawks last season. The other is De'Andre Hunter, whose game made a leap this season on offense — he was a liability on that end last season — and his defense on the perimeter has been important for the Hawks. Cam Reddish also has played strong defense (but nagging injuries, including Achilles tightness, have limited his minutes).

Raptors small icon 16. Raptors (7-10, LW 18). Toronto has started to find a groove, wining 5-of-7 overall and earning splits of sets with two good teams, the Pacers and Heat. The biggest change is an improved defense, which is more than four points per 100 possessions better in that last seven than it was previously. It also helps that OG Anunoby is on a hot streak, and seems to be hitting every three he takes the past week. Good measuring stick game Wednesday against Milwaukee.

Mavericks small icon 17. Mavericks (8-9, LW 16). Rick Carlisle talked about it this week: Dallas is trying to get Kristaps Porzingis the ball in the post more (six a game this season, nearly double last season). Not that he’s trying to make Shaq happy, but teams are guarding the 7’3″ Porzingis with smaller players because he tends to live on the perimeter; Dallas wants to punish teams inside for making that choice. Dallas is starting to get players healthy and back from COVID-19 protocols, and they need them with two games against the Jazz then two games against the Suns this week.

Cavaliers small icon 18. Cavaliers (8-9, LW 24). Taking two games from star-studded Brooklyn has Cleveland moving up in the rankings this week. As shown in one of those games, the Cavaliers have been one of the better clutch teams in the league this season behind Collin Sexton’s play. One question looming on the horizon: Where does Kevin Love fit in when he returns? With the strong play of Larry Nance Jr. this season and the additions of Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince, there are fewer front court minutes to go around in Cleveland.

Knicks small icon 19. Knicks (8-11, LW 17). The Knicks lost the last three games of their road trip — and come home to some tough games against the Cavaliers and Clippers — but there are still a lot of bright spots in Madison Square Garden right now. One of those is point guard Immanuel Quickley, who became the first Knicks rookie with more than 30 points and five made threes in a game off the bench. Also, RJ Barrett is finding his stroke from three, he has hit 8-of-18 (44.4%) over his last six games, not a high volume, but at least they are now going in.

Magic small icon 20. Magic (8-10 LW 26). When Orlando made the playoffs the past couple of years, it was because the Magic could count on their defense to keep them in games — it was top 10 in the league the past two seasons. It’s 19th in the NBA this season, 16th over the past two weeks, and the return of Evan Fournier to the lineup is not going to solve that problem. As for bright spots, it may have been a week ago, but it was so impressive — watch Cole Anthony’s game-winner against Minnesota one more time.

Heat small icon 21. Heat (6-10 LW 22). It’s been hard for Miami to gain any traction with Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley, and Tyler Herro all out for a couple of weeks. Butler remains on the sidelines going into Wednesday against Denver, with Bradley and Herro questionable for the game as of this writing. The only two Heat players to appear in every game so far are Duncan Robinson and Precious Achiuwa. On the bright side, Kendrick Nunn seemed to shake off his sophomore slump last week and looked more like the rookie version of himself.

Hornets small icon 22. Hornets (7-10, LW 19). Charlotte has one big thing going for it as it tries to earn a spot at the play-in games in the East: It is one of the best clutch teams in the league. In games within five points within the last five minutes, they outscore opponents by more than 50 points per 100 possessions. Which is insane, but they did it again this last week when Gordon Hayward hit a driving game winner.

Bulls small icon 23. Bulls (7-10, LW 21). Losing Wendell Carter Jr. for the next month (at least) is a real blow. He is Chicago’s best pick-setter and a favorite of Zach LaVine and Coby White, and on defense he was their best rim protector. Don’t be surprised if Billy Donovan leans on more Thaddeus Young at center, that has worked for the Bulls. There are other reasons to feel positive in Chicago — LaVine’s improved playmaking, Lauri Markkanen starting to look more comfortable back on the court, Denzel Valentine being solid — but losses to the Lakers and Celtics slowed any momentum. Two game set coming up next week with New York will be a good measuring stick.

Rockets small icon 24. Rockets (7-9 LW 25). Just a sign of how different things are in Houston this season: The Rockets are taking 7.8 fewer threes per game than last season (and their offensive rating is down 4.7 points per 100, although a lot of factors go into that number). Undrafted two-way player Mason Jones has taken advantage of his expanded role since the Harden trade, having scored in double-digits in 3 of the last 5 games, including having 24 against the Spurs when he hit six three-pointers.

Thunder small icon 25. Thunder (7-9, LW 20). Watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander play in person is a reminder of just how smooth, how smart, and how creative his game is — or ask Portland, as his 24 points led to an upset of the Blazers on Monday. Even with stellar play from SGA, the Thunder have the worst offense in the NBA this season and that has not paired well with their recent penchant for falling behind by 20 or more points. The Thunder have lost 6-of-8.

Pelicans small icon 26. Pelicans (5-10, LW 23). They have dropped 8-of-9, picking up their only win against the defenseless Kings. What is holding them back? The defense remains bottom five in the league despite Stan Van Gundy’s effort, and they hit the second fewest number of threes a game in the league right now — shooting remains an issue. J.J. Redick is shooting 30% from three. It’s not a surprise that Redick and Lonzo Ball‘s names are coming up in trade rumors, but both are free agents after this season (Ball is restricted), which limits what teams will give up for them.

Kings small icon 27. Kings (6-10, LW 27). Sacramento got a win over the Kings and some time off to rest (thanks to games against Memphis being postponed), all things it needed as it’s about to take its league-worst defense out on the road for four games. While there have been bright spots in the backcourt with De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton (the steal of the draft so far), Marvin Bagley III’s play is concerning. Luke Walton gives him every chance, but his inefficient 13.3 points and 8 rebounds a game, combined with defensive lapses, have not been pretty. The new Sacramento front office does not have the same emotional investment in Bagley as the one who drafted him.

Pistons small icon 28. Pistons (4-13 LW 29). A lot of pundits balked when Detroit inked Jerami Grant to a three-year, $60 million deal for a guy who had not been an elite offensive option before (*raises hand*). The Pistons nailed this, he has been everything they thought this season. He is averaging 24.3 points a game with a 57.7 true shooting percentage (about the league average), while carrying more of an offense than he ever has before. He’s playing at an All-Star level and is the big bright spot for the Pistons this season. Detroit has 6-of-7 on the road coming up (and the home game is the Lakers).

29. Timberwolves (4-12, LW 30). The Timberwolves having a bottom-five defense in the league was expected this season, but the offense was supposed to cover a lot of that up. Instead, it is bottom five in the league as well. A lot of it is simply all-world offensive player Karl-Anthony Towns has played in just four games due to a wrist injury then COVID-19, but the struggles of this team highlight the shortcomings of the roster built around Towns. Things don’t get easier with 8-of-11 coming up on the road for Minnesota.

Wizards small icon 30. Wizards (3-10 LW 28). Washington is back on the court and Bradley Beal scored 33 against John Wall and the Rockets — Beal has scored at least 25 points in every game he has played this season. His 34.4 points a game continues to lead the league in scoring. Yet it is not nearly enough on a team with a bottom-five defense. Beal and Russell Westbrook have not gotten on the same page yet. Meanwhile, the sharks — GMs from other teams — continue to circle the Wizards thinking about how they can pick Beal off.

Five teams most likely to trade for Kyrie Irving before deadline


Kyrie Irving wants a trade out of Brooklyn. Now. Before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.

It’s no sure thing a massive trade like this comes together in less than a week, but it has spiced up what was a relatively flavorless trade deadline to this point (with all due respect to Rui Hachimura).

Irving’s trade request asks some tough questions of the team’s interested in him. The incentive to make a deal is obvious — landing one of the game’s biggest names and an elite shot creator averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 37.4% from 3. On the other hand is the long list of disruptions he has caused the Nets and other teams he’s been on, combined with the fact he is asking out in Brooklyn partly because they would not give him a four-year max contract extension. Does a team trading for Irving look at his track record and want to lock him up for that long? (To be clear, a team that trades for him is limited two a two-year, $78.6 million extension; he might want to re-sign with the team as a free agent, a risk for the team acquiring him.)

What may best sum up the trade market for Irving: Teams calling are more interested in what this means for Kevin Durant than Irving (according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN).

Still, teams will be interested. Here are the top five worth watching.

1) Los Angeles Lakers

When reaching out to league sources in the wake of the Irving bombshell, the Lakers were the first name off everyone’s lips. Which makes sense because the sides discussed the idea last summer but never pulled off the trade. Now, more than halfway through the season, with the Lakers three games below .500 and sitting outside even the play-in tournament, there is a sense of desperation to do something so as not to squander an All-NBA season from LeBron James. Is that enough to get a deal done?

LeBron is trying to add some pressure.

The trade would, at its core, involve Russell Westbrook and the Lakers’ two available first-round picks (2027 and 2029), likely unprotected (although Wojnarowski reports the Lakers “privately expressing limitations on offering significant trade assets for Irving”).

That doesn’t mean Westbrook is headed to Brooklyn, the sides likely will engage a third team in the deal (San Antonio has cap space, and the Lakers have talked to the Jazz) to take on Westbrook in exchange for draft compensation. However, putting together a trade that works for everyone gets difficult, which is why one never happened this summer.

It’s obvious why the Lakers want to do this trade. Irving playing next to Lebron and Anthony Davis makes the Lakers potential contenders in a West where nobody has run away with the conference (even if Denver is trying).

It’s less obvious why this is the best option for the Nets.

In a direct swap, Westbrook — even with the added depth of a quality young role player — is a dramatic drop-off from All-Star starter Irving. Plus, in a straight-up Westbrook for Irving deal the Nets take on more salary, adding $56 million to a luxury tax bill already at $109 million (numbers via Bobby Marks of ESPN). Whether the Nets would be more enticed by a three-team trade depends on the other team and players involved, but if the Nets are going to hold on to Durant they need to find a way to stay a contender, and that won’t be easy to do in any trade with the Lakers.

2) Phoenix Suns

The Suns can make a trade work in a couple of different ways, but they all center around Chris Paul heading to Brooklyn — a big name but a player whose game has fallen off this season at age 37. The trade likely would involve either Jae Crowder or Cameron Johnson — both of whom need to be paid after this season — plus some picks headed to Brooklyn.

The Suns need half-court scoring, and an Irving and Devin Booker backcourt would be a force that could get Phoenix back in the mix at the top of the West. Would soon-to-be new owner Matt Ishbia be willing to pay big and go into the tax for Irving in future years? Would the Nets consider CP3 and some depth at the four enough to pull the trigger?

3) Dallas Mavericks

It’s no secret the Mavericks are desperate to find a second star and shot creator to go next to Luka Dončić, who is wearing himself out carrying this team. It’s also no secret that coach Jason Kidd and former Nike executive turned Mavericks GM Nico Harrison have strong relationships with Irving. Is that enough?

A trade can be constructed by sending former Net Spencer Dinwiddie back to Brooklyn along with just made available Dorian Finney-Smith, plus draft picks (there are reports the Mavericks are also hesitant to go heavy on draft picks in an Irving trade). Marc Stein reports that Dallas might want to unload one of its longer contracts in a trade, such as Tim Hardaway Jr. or Dāvis Bertāns.

Would some combination of those players plus a few picks be enough to interest Brooklyn? Is Dallas interested in signing Irving for the long-term, a four-year deal this offseason? Those questions could hold up the deal.

4) Miami Heat

Miami was on Irving’s leaked “places I would be willing to be traded” list last summer. Considering the Heat have struggled this season (despite the better play of late) and their struggles at point guard, it’s easy to see Miami’s interest.

However, it’s difficult to make a trade work. The Heat would want to send back Kyle Lowry, but there likely is little interest from Brooklyn in taking him on (he has a fully guaranteed $29.7 million on the books for next season). The Nets might want Tyler Herro, but he is in the poison pill year between signing his extension and it kicking in (the trade numbers going out and coming back are different for Herro under the CBA, making a trade very difficult to pull off).

Would the Heat want to sign Irving long-term? Is he a fit with the Heat culture?

You know Pat Riley will make the call, he’s always aggressive and wants to win now. But he’s not putting a player over the franchise, and he won’t give up too much to get a deal done.

5) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are always aggressive as a front office, they need point guard help (someone who can create in the backcourt), and the owner is more than happy to spend if it means winning. The Clippers are loaded with mid-level salaries — Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, Reggie Jackson, Nicholas Batum — who can be packaged to make a deal work. They also have good young players to temp the Nets, such as Terance Mann and Brandon Boston Jr.

Is another high-priced mercurial star prone to missing time what the Clippers need right now? They will make calls, but it feels like a long shot.

Brooks given one-game suspension for shot to Mitchell (who was fined)

Memphis Grizzlies v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Dillon Brooks did earn a suspension for hitting Donovan Mitchell in the “groin,” but he got off light.

Brooks was suspended one game and Mitchell got a $20,000 fine for their altercation during the Cavaliers’ win against the Grizzlies on Thursday night, the league announced.

“Brooks initiated the altercation by striking Mitchell in the groin area in an unsportsmanlike manner,” the NBA said in a release announcing the fine. “Mitchell then escalated the situation by throwing the game ball at and pushing Brooks, after which both players continued to physically engage with one another.”

Both Brooks and Mitchell were given Flagrant 2 fouls and ejected.

Brooks will serve his suspension Sunday against the Raptors. The one-game suspension is going to cost Brooks $78,621 in salary.

It’s difficult to watch the video of the altercation and not think that it was an intentional act by Brooks. As such, a one-game suspension seems soft and certainly isn’t sending a message of deterrence to other players. After the game Thursday, Mitchell fired shots at Brooks for the act.

The two teams do not meet again this season.

Reports: Kyrie Irving demands trade before Feb. 9 deadline

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets
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Kyrie Irving‘s agent tried to spark contract extension talks with the Nets recently, but Brooklyn felt no rush to dive into those talks, and the offer they did make — not for a full four years and filled with guarantees for Irving to meet — increased Irving’s frustration with the organization. The Nets, wisely, wanted to see more out of Irving before talking about the future, while Irving has felt everything with Brooklyn has been conditional.

Irving responded with a bombshell, demanding a trade before the Feb. 9 deadline. Shams Charania of The Athletic was first with the news, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report have since confirmed it.


So much for a quiet trade deadline.

There are so many angles to this bombshell, but the sense of Irving feeling disrespected by Nets management and ownership is not new. Charania added this detail in his story at The Athletic:

The Nets recently offered Irving an extension with guarantee stipulations, according to league sources, an offer which was declined.

Irving wants a four-year, full max extension, no stipulations, Charania reports. That’s also what he wanted when he pushed for a contract extension with the Nets last summer, but after a couple of seasons of disruptions and him missing a lot of games due to his COVID vaccination status, the Nets were not interested in cementing their relationship long-term (Irving did look around for a new home, but that went nowhere).

The disruptions carried over into this season when Irving was suspended for what became eight games due to a Tweet promoting an antisemitic documentary. Through all this, the Nets fired Steve Nash as coach.

Whatever has happened off the court, when Irving has been on the court he has been his elite playmaking self, averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Fans voted him in an All-Star starter, and he has carried the Nets while Kevin Durant has been out.

While the Nets don’t want to give away Irving in a trade, if he’s gone this summer as a free agent they need to find a deal to get something in return (and ideally keep their status as a potential, maybe fringe, contender in the East). The Nets are not wrong that all the places Irving would want to go as a free agent will require a sign-and-trade, which gives Brooklyn some leverage. Irving has some leverage here, too: If Team X comes up with a trade the Nets like but Irving lets it be known he won’t re-sign there as a free agent, it limits what teams will offer.

When checking with league sources,  the first name on everyone’s lips are the Lakers, with a package centered around Russell Westbrook and both of the Lakers’ unprotected future picks (a trade that was discussed last summer). The Lakers likely have to sweeten that pot a little with another young player. Adding Irving to the mix with LeBron James and Anthony Davis does make the Lakers a threat to come out of a West with no dominant team, and Los Angeles might be willing to extend or re-sign Irving to a longer deal, they are all in on winning now.

Other teams that come up in conversations are the Heat (a team looking for point guard help and a spark, but does Irving fit the Miami team culture?), the Mavericks need another star next to Luka Dončić, and the Clippers are always active and aggressive at the trade deadline. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports the Suns are interested. Other teams looking to make the leap up to contender status may try to throw their hat in the ring. Considering Irving’s reputation as a challenge for coaches and front office staff, it will be interesting to see how many teams are interested in Irving’s extensions/contract demands.

Whatever direction this goes expect the Irving trade rumors to fly for the next six days.


Damian Lillard reportedly to take part in 3-point contest All-Star weekend

Atlanta Hawks v Portland Trail Blazers
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The All-Star Saturday night 3-point contest has passed the Dunk Contest in watchability because the stars still do it. Look at this year’s Dunk Contest, there are some interesting athletes involved, and maybe it becomes a memorable event. Still, there will be no Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, or Anthony Edwards (the way that Jordan, Kobe, and other greats took part in the contest back in the day).

However, the stars turn out for the 3-point contest. This year, that starts with Damian Lillard, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT.

The coaches selected Lillard as one of the All-Star Game reserves, he was already headed to Salt Lake City. This is Lillard’s third time in the 3-point Shootout.

Over the coming week, expect a lot more big names to jump into the 3-point contest — the best shooters in the game want to do this event (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have each done it multiple times, although whether they will this year is unknown).

All-Star Saturday night: Come for the 3-point Shootout, hang around for the Dunk Contest.