As discussed in Tuesday's edition of the Blazer's Edge Podcast, the premier way to spice up the NBA's All-Star Weekend would be adding a 1-on-1 Tournament. Aside from H-O-R-S-E, nothing else can come close to generating the type of excitement that an old-fashioned, playground showdown between the best players in the world would create.
Spinning the idea around a little more, we've come up with a list of participants for our mythical tournament this year. The format is a 64-player bracket. The finalists would end up having to win 6 times but the games would be short: to 13 by 2's and 3's with a 5:00 time limit. Nobody would be playing more than 20 minutes of basketball total.
To make it interesting, we've chosen 2 players from each franchise to make 60, plus 4 at-large bids to round out the bracket. We didn't choose on talent alone, but whether a player could make a decent showing in a 1-on-1 environment. For this reason you'll occasionally see a bench player in the tournament while his legit All-Star teammate is left off. This showcase will favor ball-handlers over bigs and the selections reflect that.
Finally, we've ignored all injuries but the most chronic (see also: Paul George) in order to make the list more interesting. Because, you know, we had to include Kobe.
So take a look. Would you be excited to see these 64 players match up against each other in a single-elimination bracket? Do you agree with me that winning this tournament in Year 1 would bring more prestige than any other All-Star weekend accolade except being named M.V.P. of the big game? Who would people be talking about on Monday, the guy who scored 30 against no defense or the guy who vanquished 63 other players mano-a-mano to be named the best 1-on-1 player in the league?
Here's the list:
Atlanta Hawks Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap
Boston Celtics Marcus Smart, Evan Turner
Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Jack, Joe Johnson
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson
Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James, J.R. Smith
Dallas Mavericks Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis
Denver Nuggets Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson
Detroit Pistons Brandon Jennings, DJ Augustin
Golden State Warriors Steph Curry, Klay Thompson
Houston Rockets James Harden, Josh Smith
Indiana Pacers Rodney Stuckey, David West
Los Angeles Clippers Chis Paul,
Austin Rivers Jamal Crawford
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant, Nick Young
Memphis Grizzlies Mike Conley, Zach Randolph
Miami Heat Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng
Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Anteokounmpo, O.J. Mayo
Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad
New Orleans Pelicans Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday
New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
Orlando Magic Victor Oladipo, Ben Gordon
Philadelphia 76'ers Michael Carter-Williams, KJ McDaniels
Phoenix Suns Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas
Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard, Will Barton
Sacramento Kings Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins
San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard
Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan
Utah Jazz Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors
Washington Wizards John Wall, Paul Pierce
At-Large Bids Kyrie Irving, Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Davis, Gerald Green
Honorable Mention (but didn't make it): Vince Carter, Dion Waiters, Manu Ginobili, Jerryd Bayless
Feel free to suggest additions or changes to the lineup in the comments.