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2014 NBA All Star Weekend: Preview guide for All-Star Saturday

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Irving, Love, and Ross are all looking to repeat. (USATSI)
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Terrence Ross are all looking to repeat. (USATSI)

Here is the lowdown on what is happening during All-Star Saturday night, how players might win their respective competitions, and predictions for the winners.

It all begins on TNT at 8 p.m. ET:

Shooting Stars Competition

I'm going to defend the Shooting Stars competition as the most underrated part of All-Star weekend. The first five stations of each round aren't particularly interesting but once they get to the half court shot, we really see the interest in the arena and on social media take off. Some people find it to be a time-filler and maybe it is. But you know you'll be locked in to the competition when the legends get to the half court shot and start heaving.

Let's take a look at this year's teams:

Tim Hardaway, Sr., Tim Hardaway Jr., and Elena Delle Donna:

Young Tim Hardaway already started to show out in last night's Rising Stars game. Papa Tim Hardaway was always willing to rise to the occasion. If you look at Delle Donne's shooting prowess, she'll be a great asset for this team. It seems like nearly every year, there is one guy that randomly emerges in an event or two to start to steal the weekend. Could that be Tim Junior?

Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins, and Swin Cash:

After doing some research, it looks like this team won the competition last season. Look for them to know what they're doing (That's not good analysis but I'm just in it for the half court shots).

Stephen Curry, Dell Curry, and Becky Hammon:

IDEA: Golden State Warriors' bench should be there celebrating the Currys' performances. Also, Becky Hammon is a two-time Shooting Stars champion, so her experience in this competition could be invaluable. No, I didn't write that with a straight face (Give us the half court shots!).

Kevin Durant, Karl Malone, and Skylar Diggins:

The big disadvantage this team has is Karl Malone will go through his free throw routine for each shot attempted. Kevin Durant has been hot the last month but can he make up for 11 seconds at a time with each Malone shot?

PREDICTION: I'll take the Curry's because the half court shot is a layup for Steph.

Skills Challenge

I have to be honest: this is my least favorite of the competitions. There is so much potential and by potential I mean this should be a lot more like American Gladiators. In fact, what if they just did the Eliminator or the one where they shoot tennis balls at the competitors? Apparently, they changed it up by making it a team competition, which means it will be longer than usual. Yay?

Let's take a look at the secret weapon for each team because I don't know how to break down what could happen.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks and DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors:

Secret weapon for this competition:

Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers and Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic:

Secret weapon for this competition:

The rookies from the Magic and Sixers will be expected to tank this competition, so they could sneak up on unsuspecting teams and get some early success. Maybe someone will tell them the winner of the Skills Challenge gets Andrew Wiggins.

Trey Burke, Utah Jazz and Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers:

Secret weapon for this competition:

There are apparently multiple Damian Lillards on the court at all times, so that should be an advantage.

Plus, Lillard is the reigning champion.

Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns and Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder:

Secret weapon for this competition:

Just don't be the team with the least amount of sleep for the weekend and you'll probably win. Tony Parker knows what I'm talking about.

PREDICTION: LILLARD TIME becomes the second player to win back-to-back Skills Challenge titles.

3-Point Shootout

Thanks to the folks at ThingLink, I thought we would look at the shooting charts of the 3-point contests this season with some embedded highlights and my suggestion for where the money rack should be placed. For those who don't know, there will be the five ball racks on the court like we normally have. Four of those racks will have four balls worth one point and the money ball, which is worth two.

The M. Night Shyamalan plot twist is the fifth rack will be filled with five money balls and the players get to choose where that rack goes. Matt Moore asked players where that money rack might be going for them Saturday night. Let's take a look at what these guys are capable of doing.

Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets:

Previously competed in 2005 and didn't make it out of the first round.

Career: 37.0 percent. 2013-14: 39.0 percent.

Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic:

First time competing in the shootout.

Career: 39.0 percent. 2013-14: 42.5 percent.

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards:

First time competing in the shootout.

Career: 40.6 percent. 2013-14: 43.0 percent (career high).

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers:

Won the competition in 2013.

Career: 38.5 percent. 2013-14: 36.9 percent (career low).

Marco Belinelli, San Antonio Spurs:

First time competing in the shootout.

Career: 39.5 percent. 2013-14: 44.8 percent (career high).

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers:

First time competing in the shootout.

Career: 38.3 percent. 2013-14: 40.4 percent (career high).

Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves:

Won the competition in 2012.

Career: 35.8 percent. 2013-14: 37.0 percent.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors:

Previously competed in 2010 and 2013 (second round).

Career: 43.9 percent. 2013-14: 41.5 percent (career low).

PREDICTION: Kevin Love takes back the title he couldn't defend last year because of a broken hand.

Dunk Contest

We've got a team competition in this year's dunk contest. The first round is a routine by both the East and the West teams. They'll have 90 seconds to dunk as many times as they can and all three players from each team can participate. Then in the second round, you have dunk battles. It's a one-on-one, elimination dunk-off. First team to win three battles wins the competition. Then fans vote for the overall top dunker. This is the make-or-break for All-Star weekend every season.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers:

How he can win it: Be the next Steve Francis.

How he can lose it: Show people why you've only dunked about eight times this year.

Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings:

How he can win it: Do stuff like this. Just show off the incredible athleticism and power.

How he can lose it: Don't bring out LeBron James as a prop.

Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors:

How can win it: Dunk with as much power as possible and have Kent Bazemore celebrate each dunk.

How he can lose it: Dribble before he dunks. It'll end up as a turnover.

John Wall, Washington Wizards:

How he can win it: Do this. Do it do it do it do it.

How he can lose it: Let Greg in the building.

Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors:

How he can win it: He had a really good performance last year when he won the competition. Keep it creative and powerful like that.

How he can lose it: Don't use Kenneth Faried as a prop. Sure, it will look cool but PETA will start a campaign against you for cruelty to manimals.

Paul George, Indiana Pacers:

How he can win it: BRUH.

How he can lose it: Keep the lights on, Paul. It was a sick dunk but the execution of the glow in the dark just didn't work out.

PREDICTION: Everybody is picking Paul George and that's probably the way to go. He should be the prohibitive favorite because of his stardom (remember it's about getting votes) and his dunking potential in the competition.

I'm going with John Wall as the upset pick when the East team blows the West team out of the water.

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