New look in NBA All-Star Game

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Contributing Writer

This year’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles has players feeling a little festive, and it isn’t because of a party in Hollywood.

The NBA switched up the landscape of the All-Star Game by ditching the old-fashioned way of having the Western Conference teams play Eastern Conference teams. This year, they are implementing a new format that permits the top vote-getters from each conference to select their own team of All-Stars.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry received the most votes from their respective conferences this year, so this will make for a very entertaining game.

Team LeBron will feature Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Paul George and ex-Cavs player Kyrie Irving. Steph Curry’s team will have James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan and first-time All-Star Joel Embiid.

There is no clear consensus on who won the draft, but the general public has agreed that these teams will definitely put on a popcorn-worthy show.

The big game isn’t the only thriller of the weekend. This year, the Dunk Contest and 3 -Point Contest have much to offer. This year’s 3-Point Contest features Klay Thompson, Eric Gordon, Devin Booker, Tobias Harris and Paul George. It will be interesting to see how Gordon will defend his 3-point shooting title against Thompson, who was victorious the year before.

The Dunk Contest has some underdogs this year as well. With Aaron Gordon returning to the contest two years after his epic showdown with Zach Lavine, there is no doubt that he will be the favorite, but don’t count out Gordon’s ex-teammate — and 2015 Dunk Contest runner-up — Victor Oladipo.

Many people aren’t counting on rookie Dennis Smith Jr. to win, but some are still interested in seeing what he can bring to the table. Smith is an explosive athlete and, with the Dallas Mavericks, has tried to dunk on anyone in his path — regardless of their status in the league.

The new format is not the only new wrinkle in the All-Star Game. This year, each player on the winning team will receive $100,000. This is double the amount players have received in previous years.

In the past, fans have claimed the game lacked competitiveness, but this incentive could be the solution.  For double the dough, the competition level amongst the players should rise significantly.

Check out how the events play out on Valentine’s Day weekend.