2020 NBA All-Star: OKC Thunder players to consider for events

Hamidou Diallo #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Hamidou Diallo #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Rising Stars will be announced today with All-Star Saturday Night participants yet to be confirmed. What OKC Thunder players should be in the mix?

Thursday night NBA Game Time on TNT announced the reserve players coaches selected for the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago. OKC Thunder fans were thrilled Chris Paul was among the seven Western Conference players cited to participate.

Coaches voted to determine the seven players from each Conference including two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild card picks (any position).

Rising Stars:

Today the 20 Rising Stars will be announced which include both sophomore and rookie players. The new structure features the U.S. Team versus the World Team paying homage to how quickly International players have become a factor in the Association.

Last season’s roster featured 10 players from each Conference. The breakdown in 2019 was five sophomores and five rookies on the World Team while the West featured four rookies and six sophomores.

Although a great concept initially based on the rapid growth of international players in the NBA the American side arguably is taking a hit since this past season witnessed a predominant U.S. influx of young talent.

Shai Gilgeous Alexander is a sure bet to make the club but Darius Bazley has virtually no shot. Though unlikely, Luguentz Dort might get the tap since he’s Canadian.

All-Star Saturday Night:

The other big announcements to come will be the participants for the All-Star Saturday Night in the Skills Competition, 3-Point Shooting Contest and the Slam Dunk.

Based on how well the trio of point guards have played for the OKC Thunder there might be an opportunity for any of the three to get the tap for the skills competition but again SGA will have the best shot.

So far the NBA has two players confirmed for the Skills Competition:

It’s likely Rose got the tap given he was one of the Eastern Conference reserve snubs. Examining the top 15 players for assists this season:

Ten of the above players will already be in Chicago so many of them could factor in the skills competition.

3-Point Competition:

Only Trae Young and Damian Lillard are confirmed as participants in the event that typically features up to 10 players.

On the season there are 33 players who shoot over 40 percent from deep but of those only three attempts more deep balls than OKC Thunder sniper Danilo Gallinari. Duncan Robinson of the Heat with 7.7 attempts on a 43.8 percent efficiency. Bojan Bogdanovic of the Jazz attempts 7.5 with an efficiency of 42.2 percent. Davis Bertans attempts 8.2 deep balls per game with a 42.7 percent efficiency.

Gallo takes 7.4 deep balls per game connecting at an efficiency of 41.4 percent.

James Harden tops the list for most 3-pointers made but his efficiency is lacking (35.5 percent).

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Of the 16 players who take seven or more 3-point shots per game hitting above 36 percent (and other than the above four players), these are the most efficient snipers.

Presumably, Zach LaVine will be invited to participate given the Chicago Bulls are hosting the event. It’s hard to say if Gallinari will get the invite but since Robinson is already considered a shoo-in you would think the committee would consider him along with the Jazz Bogdanovic and Raptors VanVleet.

And, with Walker, Young and Lillard already at the event they should also get the nod.

Slam Dunk Contest:

The marquee event of Saturday Night is the slam dunk and this year has the potential to be lit.

Two of the confirmed entrants are Derrick Jones Jr of the Heat and Aaron Gordon of the Magic.  But I have a bone to pick with the selection committee who seemingly allowed Dwight Howard to TELL THEM he was entering the competition. His presence means there is only one open slot.

Since the game is in Chicago and one of the best slam dunk events ever occurred in Toronto when Gordon and Zach LaVine lit up the 6ix it’s a given the NBA will want LaVine in the contest.

LaVine was extended an offer but hasn’t confirmed. Ja Morant was also asked to participate and no doubt Zion Williamson was asked. Although both have said prior they wouldn’t participate.

So here is the problem —-Hamidou Diallo is the reigning Slam Dunk champion. Does this mean he would be left out of the event if LaVine accepted and because Howard forced his way in?

It sure wouldn’t sit right if that was the case.

Perhaps the League will change things up and allow more than four participants but if Diallo doesn’t get to be in the event because of Howard it’s just plain wrong.

UPDATE: As an update to above Brady Trantham tweeted that Diallo told @joe_mussatto and his article in the Oklahoman there is an open spot for him. Mussatto spoke to Diallo who said he could play (be added) if he chooses to participate as long as the Thunder doctors approve it based on his earlier hyperextended elbow injury.

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Based on the above information it seems more likely Diallo would be allowed to participate and the league would make an exception — meaning they’d allow more than four dunkers to participate. That is good news because the thought of Howard getting to be in the competition at the cost of Diallo not being able to wouldn’t have sat right.