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All-Star Saturday Night Preview: Threes, dunks and chest passes

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Even with no Spurs suiting up for All-Star weekend’s most jam-packed night, there are still plenty of reasons to tune in.

NBA: All-Star Celebrity Game Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

While Sunday’s main event boasts All-Star weekend’s biggest names, Saturday night is arguably its most entertaining, with three events of varying tradition, corporate omnipresence, and a considerably higher level of competition than the All-Star Game itself. Grab a Mountain Dew and Crunchy Taco Supreme, switch your phone carrier to AT&T immediately, and then pick your favorites for each of this evening’s contests.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Contestants:

Mike Conley, Grizzlies

Luka Doncic, Mavericks

De’Aaron Fox, Kings

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Kyle Kuzma, Lakers

Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Nikola Vucevic, Magic

Trae Young, Hawks

A combination of young guys and vets, guards and bigs, will compete to see who can put together the best all-around run in an event Tony Parker won in 2012. A fine aperitif for the higher profile contests to come.

Vegas favorite: De’Aaron Fox (+250)

My pick: Trae Young (+375)

Anyone who’s caught the Hawks rookie knows he’s already one of the more spectacular passers in the league. He also has the quickness to dribble through the obstacles and the kind of touch that should serve him well throughout. The irony will be when he gets hung up on the three-point part.

Mountain Dew 3-Point Contest

Contestants:

Devin Booker, Suns

Seth Curry, Trail Blazers

Stephen Curry, Warriors

Danny Green, Raptors

Joe Harris, Nets

Buddy Hield, Kings

Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

Khris Middleton, Bucks

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks

Kemba Walker, Hornets

Am I bummed that Davis Bertans didn’t get invited? Absolutely. Is his absence enough for me to not tune in? Probably. But for the less invested, or for those who appreciate watching most of the world’s best shooters in action, this is still a very fun event and probably the most dependably entertaining competition of the entire weekend. Plus, there's still Danny Green to root for.

Vegas favorite: Steph Curry (+175)

My pick: Damian Lillard (+900)

If all the odds were the same, I'd default to Steph, who has an extra incentive to lock in and win playing in his hometown. But since I am a very serious pretend bettor, I'll take Lillard at +900 and at least have the excuse of it being a good value bet after Steph makes every single ball.

AT&T Slam Dunk

Contestants:

Miles Bridges, Hornets

John Collins, Hawks

Hamidou Diallo, Thunder

Dennis Smith Jr., Knicks

The dunk contest seemed dead and beyond saving for years before 2016’s legitimately incredible showcase pitted Zach LaVine’s freakishly effortless hangtime versus Aaron Gordon’s combination of agility and creativity. Despite its flaws, it’s still worth a watch, especially if you go in with tempered expectations.

Vegas favorite: Dennis Smith Jr. (+200)

My pick: Dennis Smith Jr.

I’m going to ride with the favorite, who has not only appeared in the contest before but who jumps so high that it prompted an article on the dangers of him jumping too high.