The 72nd NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday. It seems each year there are new twists to the game and activities during the three-day celebration of the best basketball players in the world. This year is no exception.
Here’s what you need to know:
When: Sunday, 5:30 p.m. PST (TNT)
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City
All-Star Game twist
Four years ago the NBA decided to have the leading vote-getters in the East and West draft teams from the pools of starters and reserves. LeBron James is 3-0 as a captain and will lead Team LeBron against Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) for the third consecutive year. Kevin Durant was a captain in 2020.
This year’s twist? Instead of drafting their teams a week ahead of time, James and Antetokounmpo will make their picks on the court an hour before tipoff. Denver’s Michael Malone will coach Team LeBron while Boston’s Joe Mazzulla will coach Team Giannis.
Starting in 2020, the All-Star Game format changed with the game’s winner being determined by reaching a target score, which is the leading team’s overall total after three quarters plus 24 points in honor of Kobe Bryant’s jersey number. The first three quarters will be timed (with the score resetting after each) and is a mini-game with the winner claiming a larger portion of money awarded to the captains’ community-based programs of choice: Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah (Team LeBron) and Raise the Future (Team Giannis).
Rising Stars tournament
The Friday night contest that used to feature rookies vs. second-year players, and for a time Team USA vs. Team World, will now become a tournament involving four teams. Those teams have been drafted into three squads of seven rookies and sophomores plus a team from the G League.
There will be a two-round, single-elimination tournament with the semifinals played to a target score of 40 points and the championship game played to 25.
Former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Deron Williams will serve as coaches of the three rookie/sophomore teams while Jason Terry will coach the G League squad.
Team Deron: Franz Wagner, F, Magic; Jalen Green, G, Rockets; Alperen Sengun, C, Rockets; Trey Murphy III, F, Pelicans; AJ Griffin, F, Hawks; Bones Hyland, G, Clippers (Nuggets); Walker Kessler, C, Jazz.
Team G League: Sidy Cissoko, F, Ignite; Scoot Henderson, G, Ignite; Mojave King, G-F, Ignite; Kenneth Lofton Jr., G, Memphis Hustle; Mac McClung, G, Delaware Blue Coats; Leonard Miller, F-C, Ignite; Scotty Pippen Jr., G, South Bay Lakers.
Making its debut this weekend will be the NBA G League Next Up Game, to be played noon Sunday at the Huntsman Center. Ten players were selected by a fan vote and the G League chose the other 14.
Iowa Wolves forward Luke Garza was the top vote-getter and will captain one of the 12-player squads. G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson will captain the other. G League coaches and celebrity assistants will guide the teams after Garza and Henderson draft their teams.
The other players are: Charles Bassey, C, Austin Spurs; Sidy Cissoko, F, Ignite; Sharife Cooper, G, Cleveland Charge; David Duke Jr., G, Long Island Nets; Frank Jackson, G, Salt Lake City Stars; London Johnson, G, Ignite; Carlik Jones, G, Windy City Bulls; Mojave King, G-F, Ignite; Saben Lee, G, Phoenix Suns; Kenneth Lofton Jr., G, Memphis Hustle; Mac McClung, G, Delaware Blue Coats; Eric Mika, C, Ignite; Leonard Miller, F-C, Ignite; Isaiah Mobley, F, Cleveland Charge; Shareef O’Neal, F, Ignite; Scotty Pippen Jr., G, South Bay Lakers; Trevelin Queen, G, Fort Wayne Mad Ants; Neemias Queta, C, Stockton Kings; Babacar Sane, F, Ignite; Gui Santos, F, Santa Cruz Warriors; Zavier Simpson, G, Lakeland Magic; Gabe York, G, Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Showing their skills
The Slam Dunk Contest, with a two-round format featuring four contestants, will cap off Saturday night’s festivities, which begin at 5 p.m. PST. Each player is given 90 seconds to complete two dunks — with three attempts per dunk, for a five-judge panel. At the end of their time, they’ll be given one last attempt. The top two scorers advance to the final under the same format. Competitors: Kenyon Martin Jr., Rockets; Mac McClung, 76ers; Trey Murphy III, Pelicans; Jericho Sims, Knicks.
The Skills Challenge, featuring three three-player teams, and Three-Point Shooting Contest, featuring eight long-range specialists, precede the nightcap.
The Skills Challenge features three events: relay, passing and shooting. Points will be awarded based on finishes in each competition. Competing are Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo and his brothers, Alex and Thanasis), Team Jazz (Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton) and Team Rooks (Magic’s Paolo Banchero, Pistons’ Jaden Ivey and Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr.).
The 3-Point Contest features five racks of five balls, four of them containing one “money ball” worth two points instead of one and one rack of five money balls positioned at the player’s choice. There are also two “starry ball” pedestals behind the third rack, to the left and right, worth three points. The top three shooters advance to a final round. Competitors: Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers; Tyler Herro, Heat; Buddy Hield, Pacers; Kevin Huerter, Kings; Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers; Lauri Markkanen, Jazz; Anfernee Simons, Trail Blazers; Jayson Tatum, Celtics.
(all times PST)
11:30 a.m.: Rising Stars practice (NBA TV)
2:30 p.m.: Basketball Hall of Fame news conference (NBA TV)