We’re fresh off NBA All-Star weekend where it’s safe to say – it was one of the best in recent memory.
From the tributes, to the performances, to the dunks and the intensity of Sunday night – it will be one to be remembered.
Fresh off last night’s NBA All-Star game – Team LeBron took the win in Chicago in a new quarter by quarter format. It was a closely contested fourth quarter, that saw the game go down to the wire to see who could reach 157.
Many played a big role in their teams successes over the stretch – so let’s give out some player grades in a game that was competitive from the get go.
The Bench Players
Kyle Lowry – A-
Came up with the most controversial performance of the night by taking charges in the 4th quarter – to the dismay of Team LeBron. Defensively, Lowry came up clutch in the right moments, but fell short with his foul of Anthony Davis in the final play. His 8 assists were the second-most in the game. Played hard, kept Team Giannis in it late, and surprised most with his defensive versatility.
Brandom Ingram – D
As the commentators rightly pointed out – Ingram was returning from an ankle injury which limited him to 8 minutes of action. Seemed overwhelmed by his more offensively aggressive team-mates, and ended up being a bit of a ghost for most of it.
Khris Middleton – D-
Following on from his knock down 3-point-fest at last year’s All-Star game, Middleton was fairly invisible this time around. He played a startling 23 minutes – second most of his bench comrades. There wasn’t much production from the Milwaukee Buck. 28.6% in field goal percentage and 20% from 3.
Bam Adebayo – C+
Pretty solid performance from the first-time All-Star, who probably fell behind in the pecking order to the vets in the team. 4/5 from the field, and a few dribbles to add in-between, Bam played well in his 11 minutes of action.
Rudy Gobert – B+
Being pipped as one of the All-Star Game MVP’s down the stretch – Gobert brought his A game on Sunday night. He was the perfect target for open passes near the basket, and grabbed a game-tying-high 11 boards to match it. Will be remembered for his block party in the second half.
Jimmy Butler – C
When Butler got on the court, he was directing his team-mates to cover their players and tighten up the defense. Butler didn’t see many minutes, but seemed to be a welcome presence on a younger All-Star team. 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, not bad.
Donovan Mitchell – D+
Disappointing night for Mitchell – who could have shone in this guard lineup on Team Giannis. Couldn’t seem to find his shot, as with most others, going 3 of 10 from the field. Nothing standing out for the Utah man.
Chris Paul – A
Surprised there wasn’t more heat for the CP3 for MVP arguments, as Paul had himself a game. A consistent three point threat throughout the game, Paul went for 23 points leading bench players in the game, and was active throughout the 4th quarter. His dunk in the 2nd turned back time for the OKC guard – who’ll be 35 in May.
Nikola Jokic – D
Seemed happier to be there more than any other player. Unfortunately, that didn’t necessarily translate into a stellar performance for the Nuggets big man. In 12 minutes, he was fairly pedestrian, with a few nice moments, and one three pointer.
Ben Simmons – B
Pure aggression. Early into this game, I would have traded Joel Embiid if I were a 76ers GM. Simmons seemed more than happy to drive to the basket, resulting in dunks, misses, and a mixture of good and bad passes. Mostly good. The All-Star game is made for rangey guards like Simmons.
Jayson Tatum – C-
A player like Tatum would have been most effective as a spot up shooter in this game. Unfortunately for him, his 3 point shot was off, going 0-4. However, his 3 steals were tied most in the game, and he found a few passes down the way. Not great, not bad.
Russell Westbrook – D-
6 points from Westbrook here – a former two-time MVP. I kept thinking Westbrook was going to stop shooting, but 14 shots later and he only managed to make two of them. Was hard to watch at times. Seemed to be overcrowded in the lane, too. I’m sure he won’t lose too much sleep.
Domantas Sabonis – C
Unfortunately in All-Star games, there are players who just aren’t remembered for doing anything. Domantas Sabonis is one of these. At least he didn’t take 14 shots.
Devin Booker – C
Will be remembered fondly for his putback dunk which set the tone in the 1st half. Booker’s patented 3 point shot wasn’t going off much, but he wasn’t on his own in that regard. For a player not initially selected, he didn’t do anything to hurt his stock.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – A
The Greek Freak was characteristic in this – intense, competitive, aggressive and leading from the front. Played all the final 4th quarter minutes, and unfortunately the fatigue kicked in late. His rim protection was second to none, as was his overall defense throughout the game. Losing teams rarely get MVPs, though.
Kemba Walker – B
The 3-point curse creeped into a lot of players games, but Kemba managed to stay clear for the most part. Knocking down 5 threes, and shooting 50% from the field, Kemba was a reliable guard throughout. Had an unfortunate lost dribble in the 4th that otherwise could have been a big play for Team Giannis.
Joel Embiid – B
You can’t doubt this man for his effort. As the game progressed, I wasn’t seeing much that I liked from the big man. He didn’t seem that creative close to the basket, and seemed to be sweating more than an Irish man frying an egg. But late in the game, Embiid’s iso-plays kept Team Giannis within contention, including a nice dummy play on LeBron.
Pascal Siakam – C-
15 points was a nice turnaround for Siakam in his first All-Star game. The Raptors star was active early on, but his contribution waned as the game went on. Became the 5th option in the 4th quarter sadly.
Trae Young – C+
Young may have started in the game, but it was Lowry who got go-ahead late in the game under Nick Nurse (unsurprisingly) with his defensive prowess. Trae did manage to rack up 10 assists, somehow. Likely with most coming early on where defense was still a confusion. Some nice plays for the Hawks guard in this game though.
LeBron James – B
What if LeBron had hit that final 3-pointer from the logo, and won the game, as captain of the team and league defying legend of the All-Star game? What if. Well, LeBron looked as composed out there as you could have expected, opting primarily to be pass-first as he has been this year. Didn’t shoot the 3-ball well, but a win and all is forgiven.
Luka Doncic – C
The hot hand of Chris Paul got the nod for Team LeBron late in the 4th, unfortunately for Luka. However he didn’t look out of place as a 20 year-old playing with a bunch of vets. Had a dunk attempt of his own, likely wanting to get a slice of the pie early on. Did well.
Anthony Davis – B+
20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. An impressive stat sheet for the Lakers power forward – who ended up hitting the game winning free throw to seal the deal for Team LeBron. His defense was his best asset throughout, surely an appetising watch for Lakers fans seeing him lock up the leagues best.
Kawhi Leonard – A
A great game for Kawhi, especially early on, as it seemed like he wasn’t going to miss a three pointer at all. Ended up shooting 57% from 3 and 61% from the field. His defence was astounding too – with his strips and general awareness. Unfortunately, he was playing on a team with James Harden and LeBron James who carried the ball down the court and shot most of the time. We could have seen more from him late.
James Harden – D
Somehow, Harden shot over 30% from three, somehow. Made 6 of his 18 baskets, and had two blocks to show for himself too. Got himself into foul trouble late in the game however, at the advantage of Kyle Lowry. His usual stepback 3 game just didn’t quite work out over the 4 quarters.
There we have it. Who’s my MVP? I’d have given it to Giannis, despite the loss. He didn’t have the best 4th quarter, but he battled hard all game and embodied the competitiveness needed to make the All-Star game watchable in 2020. But Kawhi – I’m not mad at it.