At its core, the NBA All-Star Game is supposed to be pure, unfiltered entertainment.
The concept is simple: gather the league’s very best players on one court and give them the platform to put on a show for the fans.
A competitive game with players putting in more effort than usual would raise the entertainment value and hopefully the new format with LeBron James and Stephen Curry picking their teams will help do that.
But we still want dunks, crossovers and ridiculous passes – just with a little more resistance on the defensive end so it’s not a walk in the park.
And while players like Al Horford and Draymond Green fully deserve to be there, the little things they do better than almost everyone else – screening, switching on defence, etc. – aren’t why we watch the showcase.
With that said, here’s our ranking of the top 10 most fun players to watch on Sunday, from a pure entertainment standpoint.
In a league full of athletic specimens, the Greek Freak somehow stands out as the biggest physical anomaly. Anytime he’s on the court, Giannis is capable of doing something we’ve never seen before – whether that’s leaping for a dunk from an obscene distance or gliding full-court with only a few dribbles. And no one in Sunday’s game is a better alley-oop target.
2. LeBron James
All-Star games almost feel beneath LeBron and his greatness, but because he does literally everything on a basketball court well, James is never not entertaining – even when he’s barely trying. You already know he’s going to throw a couple no-look passes and throw down a few power dunks, and if the game is close at the end, he’ll have the ball in his hands.
3. Kyrie Irving
Mister ankle-breaker himself, Irving will be must-see anytime he has the ball in his hands. He could theoretically draw plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” and get the crowd on their feet without even taking a shot, but Irving is bound to do his customary ‘get buckets’ routine. Plus, we get to see how he interacts with LeBron with the two teaming up again.
The guy scored a record 52 points in last year’s game, so yeah, he’s going to be pretty fun to watch. He can put down highlight dunks, shoot and swat shots – making him a walking highlight on both ends of the court. He’s also on LeBron’s team so there’s a good chance he’s on the receiving end of some of beautiful passes and alleys.
5. Stephen Curry
It’s pretty self-explanatory why the greatest shooter ever is on this list. It’s a blast to watch Curry shoot and the All-Star Game setting gives him more liberty to pull the trigger from further out than he normally would. And the crazy thing is, we have yet to see Curry catch fire in any of his previous four All-Star appearances, so we’re due for an explosion.
The All-Star Game may be a time to let loose for most players, but Westbrook doesn’t have an off switch. Expect to see more of the same fury he plays with on a day-to-day basis, especially because there may be a time in the contest when he’s up against three of the four Golden State Warriors involved in the game.
7. James Harden
It speaks to the quality of the field that Harden, who’s arguably the MVP favourite at the moment, is this far down the list. He’s both really good and really entertaining, but part of what makes him so dominant is his ability to draw fouls and no one wants to see free throws in an All-Star Game. The step-back jumpers? Those are more than welcomed.
8. Joel Embiid
In the entire NBA, who has more fun than Embiid? Forget for a moment how skilled the Philadelphia 76ers big man is. He’s going to make the All-Star Game more entertaining with his trash talk and light-hearted nature alone. It will be cool to see how the first-time All-Star meshes with some of the brightest stars in the league.
9. Kevin Durant
This ranking for the second-best player in the game isn’t meant as a knock. It’s just that Durant’s style of play, while aesthetically pleasing, doesn’t jump off the page in the same way like Irving’s or Westbrook’s does. Durant can do things that no one else at his size can, but this is the one occasion where his incredible efficiency doesn’t matter.
The last spot on this list was a tough one, but why not give it to a first-time All-Star who also happens to be one of the most skilled offensive players in the league? Even though he’ll come off the bench, one factor working in Towns’ favour is the lack of big men on his team, which means he should get plenty of minutes to fill up the stat sheet.
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