Who will be tops for the NBA All-Stars?
Every month the African Blogtable brings together some of the top basketball minds from across the continent to answer some of the most pressing questions related to the 2020-21 NBA season.
Who are you looking forward to watching the most in the 70th NBA All-Star Game this Sunday?
Who is your favorite to win the 3-Point Contest?
Who is your Slam Dunk champion?
Amine El Amri, Le Matin (Morocco): It's that wonderful time of the year! It is quite difficult to single out a player that would be THE person of interest. But I'm definitely looking forward to watching the African pride this season, Joel Embiid. The fact that there will be no conference affiliations has made it worth the wait to see who the two captains have chosen. Despite fans absence, I think the All-Star Game 2021 will be very unique and memorable.
My MTN DEW 3-Point Contest prediction: In the presence of master Steph Curry, who competes for the seventh time, it will be tough for the other participants. Nevertheless, the very presence of six All-Stars in this year's 3-Point Contest is huge, knowing how competitive these shooters can be.
The choice of this year's AT&T Slam Dunk winner will be particular. Most people didn't hear about Obi Toppin, Cassius Stanley and Anfernee Simons, but I'm positive all the questions will be answered thanks to this weekend’s showdown. Glimpses of Simons' talent were seen in the bubble last year and this kid just knows how to handle a basketball. As for Cassius Stanley, his ability to jump (record 44 inches in action) is just mind-blowing. Obi Toppin has already featured in a highlight-reel this week, so I'm guessing he's focused on winning the contest. Shot in the dark: Obi Toppin.
Mohamed Youssef, Filgoal.com (Egypt): I’m going to watch Luca Doncic in his second NBA All-Star Game after he got more experience in the league and is one of the youngest All-Star starters.
I think Stephen Curry is going to win the 3-Point Contest and the Slam Dunk winner will be Anfernee Simons.
Nafy Amar Fall, Wiwsport (Senegal): Joel Embiid! He's the man in form for the 76ers this season and I'm a fan of everything he's accomplished over the past four years. In my opinion, in his fourth participation in the NBA All-Star Game, it will be an opportunity for the Cameroonian center to showcase all the beautiful moves he has been dazzling us with during the season. And this Sunday’s All-Star will further confirm his status as an MVP contender.
In the 3-Point Contest, I totally bet on Steph. Curry is the league’s three-point master and, absent in 2019, will want to confirm his good form in this competition. The 2015 3-Point Contest winner is arguably the favorite ahead of all the other candidates.
While Zion is away, I choose Obi Toppin in the Slam Dunk. In my opinion, this is a great opportunity for the young rookie that he is. In addition to his desire to want to participate and search for an original dunk, he has already shown his abilities, first in the NCAA and then with the New York Knicks. Let's wait and see what he will do on Sunday night.
Nicasius Agwanda, Clouds Media Group (Tanzania): The player I am excited the most about is James Harden. This comes from the fact that he's headlined the storylines this season and has not disappointed since moving to Brooklyn. Most people are still overlooking him in MVP conversations, but I hope he performs well and gets that triple-double. This should set a trend for getting him into that MVP discussion. Other than that, I wish this to be a year in which Curry really shows his marksmanship in an NBA All-Star Game.
My 3-Point Contest prediction? I'd go with Curry. This is an obvious pick, but seeing him sink more than 100 threes in a workout makes me believe that he would also make this year’s 3-Point Contest memorable… I am here for a surprise though, maybe Zach LaVine or Jaylen Brown…?
Obi Toppin is my pick for the Slam Dunk. This is what he's loved to do since college. I pray we get a remake of Gordon vs. LaVine matchup from 2016. That All-Star had the vibe of the All-Stars and needs to be back.
Refiloe Seiboko, Mail & Guardian (South Africa): 3-Point Contest: The greatest 3-point shooter the league has ever seen is back and he's having a stellar season — I'm going with Stephen Curry.
Slam Dunk: I predict Obi Toppin will top this one.
Skills Challenge: The most skilled participant for this event is Chris Paul. So, Chris Paul.
Rotimi Akindele, Beat FM (Nigeria): Looking forward to seeing Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons. The PG has probably been the best perimeter defender so far this season and his passes are a joy to watch. I just want to see how he blends with Giannis and James Harden. My 3-Point Contest winner prediction – Steph Curry (GSW). My Slam Dunk winner prediction – New York Knicks’ Obi Toppin.
Stuart Hess, IOL (South Africa): LeBron James. He was very unenthusiastic about the All-Star Game taking place this year, so I'm interested in seeing how seriously he takes it and what he hopes his presence at the event will bring, not just for the NBA, but for the broader social initiatives he has put so much energy into highlighting.
My 3-Point Contest prediction - Steph Curry...because he's Steph Curry.
Obi Toppin....I've seen some of the dunks he performed at Dayton (and he's a Knick!).
Woury Diallo, Le Quotidien (Senegal): I am looking forward to seeing Zion Williamson this Sunday night. At only 20 years old, the young player joined the big leagues with his first All-Star Game selection. Especially since he has only played around 50 games in the NBA so far. His performances every week with the New Orleans Pelicans are already inspiring hope, but above all, an admiration for this baby-faced superstar who at times reminds me of Shaquille O'Neal.
For the 3-Point Contest, I vote Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), ahead of Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) or Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns).
For the Slam Dunk, I vote Obi Toppin (New York Knicks) ahead of Anfernee Simons Portland (Trail Blazers) and Cassius Stanley (Indiana Pacers).