Josh Cohen’s Analysis: While it probably would never happen out of fear from players that reputation could get scratched, but a one-on-one competition at All-Star Weekend pitting the league’s elite against each other would trump all other contests, including the slam dunk and 3-point shootout. CLICK NEXT for seven one-on-one matchups that every basketball fan would be sure to tune in for.
LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant – Cohen’s Analysis: This is already transforming into the NBA’s best player rivalry, largely because they generally play the same position, competed against each other in last year’s Finals and are the premier MVP candidates every season and will likely continue to be for the next several seasons. While LeBron is more consummate in the team game because of his incomparable playmaking and court vision, Durant is the better scorer. That usually implies he is more cut out for a one-on-one contest.
Kyrie Irving vs. Damian Lillard – Cohen’s Analysis: Last season’s Rookie of the Year against this year’s presumed to be ROTY. While Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose (if he is healthy) will still be in their prime in a few years, something tells me Irving and Lillard will surpass all three as the best point guards because of their versatility and level of importance to their teams. Portland and Cleveland can’t survive without these two. Because Irving is a more proficient 3-point shooter, I will give the edge to him in a one-on-one.
Tim Duncan vs. Kevin Garnett – Cohen’s Analysis: About five or six years ago, this would have likely been the headline matchup. Now, a Timmy vs. KG one-on-one clash would feature two of NBA history’s greatest power forwards in the twilight of their respective careers. Several years ago, Duncan would prevail rather easily against his arch foe. But today, Garnett’s patent jumper would be too much for Duncan to overcome.
Dwight Howard vs. Shaquille O’Neal – Cohen’s Analysis: Obviously, Shaq is retired, but if a one-on-one contest actually existed and he was permitted to participate, he would love no other than to challenge Dwight to a big man battle. The two have feuded for years and it’s only gotten more intense with O’Neal suggesting Howard is not the top center because of his offensive limitations. Motivation would propel Shaq to a victory here.
Carmelo Anthony vs. James Harden – Cohen’s Analysis: It would probably be more fitting for Melo to face off against Durant considering they are regarded as the NBA’s two most electrifying scorers. However, since KD and LeBron are already scheduled to skirmish for the heavyweight championship, next in line is the suddenly invigorated Harden, who may be the league’s third best scorer today. Anthony should be able to take advantage of his size and win on post-ups, but if he starts getting perimeter happy, Harden may be able to sneak in an upset.
Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade – Cohen’s Analysis: This is the obvious default matchup, mostly because Kobe vs. LeBron would be more logical from a marketing standpoint. And while still one of the game’s best, Wade isn’t quite the player he was a few years ago when some thought he was potentially better than Kobe. While D-Wade’s heart and relentlessness would keep the game close, Bryant would prove too dominant in the end.
Russell Westbrook vs. Derrick Rose – Cohen’s Analysis: This matchup could and should only happen if Rose is 100 percent and playing at the level he played at when he was named MVP. Neither one could stop the other, but whoever wins would be the player that doesn’t start settling for the 3-point shot. I trust Rose to play a more intelligent game.