5 good things for a Suns-centric NBA All-Star weekend

all-starThe Phoenix Suns eventually earned some All-Star weekend representation from the NBA, which by the skin of its teeth got away with snubbing one of the league’s most refreshing surprises this year.

OK, so it’s tough for Goran Dragic to make the main event, even with some Western Conference guards injuring themselves. The Suns win with a true team balance, after all. Dragic will play in the Skills Challenge by teaming with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson in an event that is the second of the four different competitions that begin at 6 p.m. MST on Saturday night (Rules here).

Miles Plumlee also slipped into the Rising Stars game after somehow, some way being left off the initial list of 18 players selected. He took the injured Pero Antic’s place on Grant Hill’s team. The Rising Stars Challenge tips at 7 p.m. MST on Friday.

Here are a few things that we’ll be looking for as Suns connoisseurs.

Miles Plumlee embarrasses someone

This will likely come in the form of a dunk, but maybe Plumdog Plumlee can display some squeaky clean handles in such a pickup game. There’s unlikely to be much defense played, but here’s to hoping the Suns’ center does some good things. Dunking on All-Star Anthony Davis would be something of a highlight, as would be dunking on his brother, Mason. Or would smashing it on top of Kelly Olynyk’s head prove a better point? How the hell was Plumlee an injury replacement?

Teach me how to (Mc)Donough

Remember when there were rumors — true or not — that Grant Hill and Charles Barkley were general manager candidates once Lance Blanks was fired? Frightening, I know. Hill got to act as GM for the Rising Stars challenge, and the Chuckster had … some input. Anyway, managing franchises isn’t in either of their plans for now, but the former Suns Hill, Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal get to steal the show as broadcasters. They play a big role is keeping our attention from otherwise boring events. Sorry, Kevin Hart.

A Suns retro dunk

No Phoenix player is participating in the Dunk Contest, and that’s fine considering the Suns get plenty of highlights from Gerald Green in games. Two years ago, Chase Budinger payed homage to Cedric Ceballos in a Phoenix jersey. Maybe it’s time for someone to pull out a Larry Nance tribute. Tough to do considering Harrison Barnes is the closest player to Nance in terms of size, and he’s still a few inches short.

Dragic and Jackson burn the competition

The Skills Challenge is generally a bit of a snoozer, but a new team format could make it a tad more gripping. DeMar DeRozan and Giannis Antetokounmpo make up one East team, while rookies Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams fill out the other. In the West, Dragic and Jackson will compete against Damian Lillard and Trey Burke. The Suns-Thunder duo is right there in terms of speed, and they’re also both very good from the mid-range. The latter perhaps gives them the advantage over the field. For Dragic to get a consolation trophy would be nice.

Steve Nash makes an apperance … somewhere

The last week got super depressing with Grantland releasing the first episode of a documentary following Nash’s battle with a back injury. No matter what you feel about his Lakers tenure, the mini-film shed light on just how hard Nash is working just to stay on the court — or try, at least. Bill Simmons captured how tough it is to see an all-time great face The Finish Line, but it’d be good to see Two-Time taking a vacation and having a beer on Bourbon Street. The guy deserves it.

  • EBJM

    Miles being selected to replace Pero Antic is just as insulting as Dragic getting snubbed for Davis.

    Antic is a 15 per game reserve for the losing Nets in the ultra weak East. His stats: 6/3 and nothing else worth mentioning.

    Miles starts for the team that would be in 3rd place in the East and posts 9/8.5/1.5 . Even though Miles has experienced the very unique situation of having
    his breakout year and sophomore slump combined in the same season, he is still having a much better season than Antic.

    To add insult to injury, he and Dragic were after-thoughts and were selected as “make-up” selections. I mean even NBA.com barely mentions him while highlighting DeMar DeRozen as the main attraction, along with Lillard at the Challenge.

  • EBJM

    Personally, I think it pathetic and selfish of Nash to ignore the obvious and face the truth. Your time has come to retire. Stockton and Kidd were the two other PGs to play until 40 and they knew when to walk away. Even Nash’s former teammate Grant Hill knew when to call it quits.

    But hey, thanks for help costing the Lakers $12 million in taxes in addition to $79 million in payroll for 16 wins.

  • Melon Man

    I think Antic, who by the way plays for the Hawks, is actually an interesting case as he’s coming to the NBA so late in his career. What I think is dumb is having guys play in both the Rising Stars game and the All Star game. To me you’re either on your way up or you’re already there. Lillard being in practically every competition is a joke. I don’t know what the NBA was thinking this year but the All Star events are a bit of a joke in my opinion.

  • EBJM

    Thanks Melon Man, I remember now. He is filling in for Horford and that is how he was recognized. But still, Miles has been starting all season and doing well.

  • Smovich

    Kevin Johnson is named a finalist for the 2014 HOF.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Once again, Paul Westphal is not mentioned for HOF consideration.
    That is a complete outrage.
    Westphal was a 5 time NBA All-Star and was 1st Team All-NBA THREE times.

    KJ…who I love, never made 1st Team All-NBA even once.

  • GoSuns

    Ebjm, I think you’re kinda harsh, Steve is kinda in the same place Kidd was in last year so saying Kidd knew when to hang it up is questionable since his last decent season was back when he won a ring, regardless this is a very tough decision for a player

  • EBJM

    Hawki, just my two-cents worth BUT K.J. was a three-time All-Star and made the All-NBA 2nd team four times and the third team once. This was during his peak when for four consecutive seasons he was a 20/10 player (I know the 4th season he was a fraction short).

    He lost first place to the league MVP Magic Johnson three times. The fourth time to Jordan and Drexler as he and Stockton were regulated to the third team. He and Stockton were both named to the 2nd team together twice and Stockton made the third team with K.J. second to Magic’s 1st team once.

    Magic and Stockton, fifth and first place on the All-Time assists leaders. K.J. is eighteenth. Westphal is one-hundred and thirty-third place.

    I’ve always advocated that K.J. played during the great PG era, he literally faced an All-Star caliber PG nightly. His competition included Tim Hardaway, Mark Price, Latrell Sprewell & Gary Payton who also were named to the All-NBA teams along with Magic, K.J. and Stockton.

    Westphal’s All-NBA PG colleagues were Maravich, Jo Jo White, Phil Ford, World B. Free, Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson. Maravich and Ford are probably the only two pass -first PGs.

    While Westphal was scoring his 20+ points for five seasons during his peak, he averaged between 5-6 assists. K.J. was dishing for 11 to go along for his 20+ for four seasons.

    I’ve heard numerous current players call today the greatest era of the PG. So lets look at who many consider the top PG today, Chris Paul.

    He was only able to accomplish the 20/10 for two consecutive seasons. But that was back between ’07-’09. He has come very close but missed his third consecutive season by over a point per game.

    Despite averaging 20/10 in ’08-’09 Paul was named to the All-NBA team 2nd team behind SGs Kobe and Wade.

    Paul has been named to three first teams , a 2nd and a 3rd.

    IMO it all about context and perspective. I’m not saying Westphal isn’t deserving, former Celtic teammate Jo Jo White, Dennis Johnson, George Gervin, & Pete Maravich all made it and those are the guys Westphal competed with.

    Just saying K.J. is just as deserving.

  • EBJM

    GoSuns, maybe so but my issue with Nash is that he hobbled onto the court in game #10 and limped off which denied the Lakers cap relief in the form of a medical retirement. Not only that he was going to bump Marshall from the line-up who despite all the negativity posted here has been the 2nd best PG in terms of getting his teammates shots behind only Chris Paul.

    Why? The Lakers have won only 16 games.

    Kidd on the other hand played in 76 games games despite the bad back and even came off the bench for 48 because he simply wasn’t the best PG on Knicks roster. He then rightfully retired.

    for two of the best assists men of All-time it appears Kidd put his team first while Nash didn’t.

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