Wednesday , Feb , 15 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

A look at All-Star Weekend

There’s just a few more days before all-star weekend begins and it’s gearing up to be a good one. It’s only Tuesday and we’ve hard our first trade before the deadline.

Seattle traded small forward/power forward Vladimir Radmonovic to the Clippers for power forward Chris Wilcox. Another deal or two should be in the future for Seattle because they have a logjam at the 4 spot. Chris Wilcox is a guy who needs time and touches and could become a solid 4 for the Sonics. They need to trade off Danny Fortson and Reggie Evans to get rid of their clutter to a team that could use some toughness down low along side their center. New York, Houston, Orlando, and New Jersey are viable trade partners.
Chris Wilcox just wasn’t developing for the Clippers, so moving him wasn’t a huge surprise. Radmonovic gives them an outside scoring threat which is always valuable when you have a post tandem like Brand and Kaman. However, Radmonovic is on a one year tender contract and will likely go out looking for money that the Clippers won’t offer him this off season. He’ll get his chance to show what he can do for the Clippers, but odds are he’s not in Hollywood next year.

Rookie Sophomore Game:
The first event in all-star weekend, and one of the most entertaining, is the rookie sophomore game. The rosters for each team is as follows:
Rookies: Andrew Bogut, Channing Frye, Danny Granger, Luther Head, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Chris Paul, Nate Robinson, Charlie Villanueva, and Deron Williams.
Sophomores: Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, TJ Ford, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Nenad Krstic, Jameer Nelson, Andres Nocioni, and the injured Emeka Okafor.
The rookies have 5 point guards on their 9 man roster. Their big men should find themselves with a lot of easy baskets, but they may be in some trouble on the defensive end. The sophomores have a much more balanced roster, which should play to their advantage. They should control the boards and tempo of the game, leading to a victory for them.
MVP: Dwight Howard. The majority of the league is having trouble shutting this guy down, so it’s hard to see how the rookies can. Howard being their only power forward on the roster with Emeka hurt, he should see lots of minutes and be the centerpiece of their attack.

Three Point Shootout:
Participants: Ray Allen, Quentin Richardson, Raja Bell, Chauncey Billups, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry.
Winner: Ray Allen. He’s got the quickest trigger out of this group, and that’s one of the key skills in this competition. He’s got a lot of experience in this contest and a previous winner.

Skills Competition:
Participants: Lebron James, Steve Nash, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Paul.
Winner: Steve Nash. Even if all you’ve seen of this guy is sportscenter highlights, he’s the obvious choice. The passes this guy makes with either hand are just incredible. Paul and James should put up a good fight and Wade’s ridiculous quickness makes him a strong candidate, but it’s just too tough to pick against Nash.

Dunk Contest:
Participants: Nate Robinson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, and Hakim Warrick.
Winner: Nate Robinson. Andre and Josh have some sickening hops, but Nate’s 5’9. It’s been 20 years since we’ve had a guy under 5’10 win the dunk contest and it’s time again. Nate’s explosiveness, creativeness, and great leaping ability should be enough along with his height for the judges to give him the nod over the other guys, who are all 6’7 and over. Hakim Warrick is a great in game dunker, but this isn’t his kind of stage.

The All-Star Game:
Eastern Conference: Allen Iverson, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace.
Western Conference: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Tracy Mcgrady, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Ray Allen, Tony Parker, Elton Brand, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Shawn Marion, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Outcome: Big congratulations to the first timers. Should be a good match up. With Shaq, Bosh, and the Wallace’s the East isn’t as outmatched down low as they have been the past few years. The talent level on both teams is pretty even. West may have an advantage because they’ve got the same starting lineup as they did last year.
MVP: Kobe Bryant. Being that it’s in Houston, it’s not hard to imagine TMac and Yao making a strong push for it. However, with their health being such issues right now, it’s not likely. Their minutes will be limited. Kobe Bryant’s playing some of the best basketball of his life right now (Though his team’s record doesn’t indicate it) and he’s 100% business everytime he steps out on the court. The all-star game will be no different.