The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will be well-represented at NBA All-Star weekend. Here’s exactly what New Yorkers have to watch.
Love it or hate it, NBA All-Star weekend is one of the biggest events all year in sports. What the All-Star Game lacks in competitiveness, it makes up for in star power. The three-point contest and dunk contest are staples of the NBA season. Lastly, and most importantly for New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans, the Rising Stars Challenge lets the next crop of stars showcase their talents on the national stage.
Luckily for New Yorkers, there will be at least one Knick or one Net in every single event over the weekend. Here’s everything you need to know.
This event offers the most for New Yorkers to see. The Brooklyn Nets will have representation on both squads. Second-round surprise Rodions Kurucs will suit up for the Team World. The Latvian swingman wasn’t expected to be a significant part of the Brooklyn rotation this year, but injuries forced him into the starting lineup.
From that point on, Kurucs hasn’t looked back. The Latvian is only averaging 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, but his energy and length are major factors in Brooklyn’s resurgence.
Kurucs will be playing against his teammate Jarrett Allen. The second-year center is becoming a household name for his All-Star rejections. LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis have all been on the wrong end of an Allen rejection.
Allen is developing into one of the best rim-running centers in the game. He’s averaging 11.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. Allen is always a threat to throw down a lob at the rim or reject his opponent’s vain attempts at a basket.
Allen will play alongside New York Knicks rookie Kevin Knox. The ninth-overall pick in the 2018 draft, Knox is having an up-and-down season, but he’s showing glimpses of superstar potential—especially offensively.
Knox enters the Rising Stars Challenge with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Knox wasn’t originally selected to play in the game, but he will replace the injured Lonzo Ball on Team U.S.
The Rising Stars Challenge offers the most for New Yorkers to watch.
Do you like deadly three-point shooters? Well if so, you’re going to love Joe Harris. Although he goes by many aliases—Lumber Joe, Beef Jerky Joe, Joey Hoops—he doesn’t fly under the radar anymore. Harris is one of the elite shooters in the NBA and his 47.1 percentage from three-point range this season is proof.
Harris is second in the league in three-point percentage and he’s making 2.4 threes per game. If he’s left open, he’s going to knock down the shot. Per NBA.com’s tracking stats, Harris is hitting 48.2 percent of his threes when he is wide open.
Luckily for Harris and Nets fans, he’ll be wide open on every shot he takes on Saturday. He’ll be challenged by the likes of Stephen Curry, Seth Curry, Devin Booker, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kemba Walker, among others.
Although it looked like this event would be absent of any New Yorkers, recently acquired Dennis Smith Jr. will represent the Knicks. Smith has only been a Knick for a short period of time, but New Yorkers are already embracing the diminutive point guard as one of their own.
Smith will look to avenge the loss he suffered in last year’s dunk contest. The point guard will have the advantage of experience. His opponents are two rookies—Miles Bridges and Hamidou Diallo—along with second-year Atlanta Hawk, John Collins.
Smith was robbed from advancing to the final round last season. Expect the newest Knick to come into Saturday with some added motivation for that reason alone.
This is the big one for all NBA fans, but especially New Yorkers. We’ll start with D’Angelo Russell who deserves his due. The Brooklyn point guard is having a breakout year and finally living up to the hype that comes with being drafted second overall.
Russell, much like the Nets, unexpectedly burst onto the scene this year and the All-Star Game is his chance to make a name for himself on the national stage. Expect him to shoot a lot of threes and hit that tear-drop floater in the lane a few times. He deserves this opportunity and it should be fun for Nets fans to finally see one of their own on the big stage.
But Russell isn’t the only player New Yorkers will be watching intently. It’s no secret that the upcoming summer is vital for both the Knicks and the Nets. Potential free agents will be heavily featured in Sunday night’s game.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, and Khris Middleton are all highly coveted free agents that could fit into the plan for the Knicks or the Nets.
All-Star weekend usually overhypes and underdelivers. But this year there is plenty of drama to keep New Yorkers tuned in all weekend long.