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NBA Notebook: All-Star Weekend

February 13, 2008

Throughout the 2007-08 regular season, Hornets.com will provide a roundtable look around the league in a weekly NBA Notebook feature. Each week, well discuss topics that are making news. To provide your opinion on any subject addressed in the NBA Notebook, send an e-mail to Hornets.coms Jim Eichenhofer at jime@hornets.com.

All-Star Friday

ROY, DURANT HEADLINE ROOKIE CHALLENGE ROSTERS.
Portlands Brandon Roy (left) and Seattles Kevin Durant headline the Rookie Challenge rosters.
The rosters for the rookie challenge game (Friday, 8 p.m.) were announced Feb. 1. The sophomore squad will include Portland teammates Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as 2006 NBA Draft No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani of Toronto. The rookie roster features No. 2 draft choice Kevin Durant and fellow lottery picks Yi Jianlian of Milwaukee and Al Horford of Atlanta.

Among the NBA sophomores, which player are you most looking forward to seeing compete in this game?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Rudy Gay is one of the most fun guys to watch in the entire league, let alone among second-year players. Im also glad Louisiana Tech product Paul Millsap is getting his due as one of the NBAs best frontcourt reserves.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Im a Brandon Roy fan, so Im interested to see him being likely matched up with Kevin Durant. Having played four years at Washington, Roy is a bit more seasoned, but youve got to believe that Durant is going to go at him and show the world why he should be the Rookie of the Year.
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: I am a big Rudy Gay fan. Gay is the face of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise and is a stud at the young age of just 2l. He will be warming up the crowd during the Rookie Challenge for his appearance in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night and will be sure to throw down a few highlights.

How about among NBA rookies in this game?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Sean Williams of New Jersey is one of only two rookies on the list (Luis Scola is the other) who we havent seen play in person yet in New Orleans. At 6-foot-10 and with a big wingspan, he is the kind of athlete who should thrive in the frenetic pace that this exhibition game usually generates.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Im looking forward to seeing Yi Jianlian. I havent seen him play too much this season, so this will be a good opportunity to see how he matches up against some of the leagues up-and-coming stars. I just hope that guys actually go at each other in this game versus absolutely no defense being played.
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: I will show some love for the long-distance dialer, Juan Carlos Navarro. Navarro is listed at a very generous 6-3, plays my kind of game, three-point line to three-point line. The Spaniard will be dialing in from beyond the arc all game long.

All-Star Saturday

Hornets point guard Chris Paul hopes his third trip to the skills competition results in his first title in the event.
CP3 TO APPEAR IN SKILLS CHALLENGE FOR THIRD TIME.
For a third straight season, Hornets point guard Chris Paul has been selected to compete in the PlayStation Skills Challenge. Paul has finished in third and fourth place, respectively, in the four-man competition during his first two trips, but will have the home crowds support this time. The opposition Saturday will include defending champ Dwyane Wade, Jason Kidd and Deron Williams.

Who has the best chance to end Wades two-year reign as champion of this event?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Based on how important making your first shot attempt is in this event, Ill say Williams. Hes a slightly better shooter than CP3 (51.4 to 47.5 percent) and obviously a much better shooter than Kidd.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Im going to go with my boy CP3 on this one. I think hes got a chip on his shoulder and wants to show his skills off for the world to see Third times a charm!
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: You have got to go with CP3. He is the only guy who has appeared in this event before other than Wade and he is itching to improve upon his previous years.

STOJAKOVIC IN THREE-POINT SHOOTOUT.
Hornets forward Peja Stojakovic is back in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout (Saturday night) and will compete against defending champion Jason Kapono, Kobe Bryant, Daniel Gibson, Richard Hamilton and Steve Nash. Stojakovic will be looking for his third title in the event, having won it in back-to-back years (2002-03) when he was a member of the Sacramento Kings.

Who is Stojakovics biggest competition in this event?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: The defending champ Kapono is leading the NBA in three-point percentage. More importantly, he has a very compact shooting form and release. That allows him to potentially shoot as well on the last ball rack as he does on the first, which helps in this format of 25 shots per round.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Im going to go with Steve Nash.
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: Number 24, Kobe Bryant. Whatever he competes in, Kobe wants to win. He is the most competitive guy in the NBA. He will look to take home the title.

Whos your shootout sleeper?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Kobe, because he seems to love the New Orleans Arena rims. He scored 50 points in a game here last March and 40 during the 2006-07 season.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Kobe Bryant how can you count out arguably the best player on this planet?
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: Jason Kapono. Even though he won last year, no one is giving him a chance to repeat with the bigger names in the contest.

GREEN TO DEFEND DUNK CONTEST TITLE.
Minnesota guard/forward Gerald Green will defend his Sprite Slam Dunk championship, in a four-man field that also includes Dwight Howard, Rudy Gay and Jamario Moon.

Who are you picking to win the dunk contest?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: Dwight Howard will become a rare big man who wins it. He seems like the most creative guy of the group and I have a feeling hes going to come up with something we havent seen before again this time.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Im going to go with Rudy Gay. Hes athletic enough to throw a couple down and if his YouTube idea works, hell have a couple of dunks to choose from, eliminating the idea process that others probably go through in the gym by themselves.
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: Dwight Howard, The man-child had arguably the best dunk last year when he stuck a sticker of himself on the backboard at 12 feet, problem is, no one knew about it. Now, everyone is ready for something special from Howard and he wont disappoint.

Whos your dunk contest sleeper?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: The crowd might have a sentimental favorite in Jamario Moon, given his status as a relatively unknown player. He had an incredible dunk at the New Orleans Arena on New Years Eve.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Jamario Moon. Hes a high flyer whos extremely athletic!
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: Jamario Moon. A small name on a big stage, will the moon rise over New Orleans on Saturday night?

All-Star Sunday

SCOTT, PAUL, WEST REPRESENT NEW ORLEANS IN ALL-STAR GAME.
For the first time in franchise history, the Hornets head coach has earned a spot on the bench for the All-Star Game. The team also has two All-Star players, with Chris Paul and David West each set to make their debut in the midseason showcase game.

The Western Conference is loaded with marquee names, but the All-Star Game is being played in New Orleans for the first time ever. If youre Byron Scott, how many minutes do you give Paul and West in the All-Star Game?

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: I think Pauls Western Conference teammates would like to see him out there as much as possible, racking up the assists. He should probably play at least half of the game. West will probably get a relatively small amount of PT, but if he gets hot, the New Orleans crowd will want him on the court.
Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Based on previous years, almost all of the players play close to a minimum of 15 minutes. I say if either Chris or David are playing exceptionally well, leave them in and give them a shot to win the MVP and keep the buzz on the Hornets going til June!
Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: CP3 will get a decent amount of minutes, probably around 20 minutes (I predict 14 assists in 20 minutes). D West is just happy to be in the game and would be happy just sitting on the bench, but he will get about 12-15 minutes.

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