The 2023 NBA All-Star Saturday night slate has been set with big star entering the 3-pt content, the skills competition and the slam dunk contest.
Left: Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images, Right: Photo by Michael Urakami/Getty Images

Everything to Know About the 2023 NBA All-Star Saturday Night Lineup

Before Sunday's All-Star Game, the NBA will get together for All-Star Saturday Night. For a lot of fans, it's the highlight of All-Star weekend. Much like the Home Run Derby, we'll see tons of players and their families hanging out courtside, cheering each other on, razzing each other. It's a unique night where you really get to see players being themselves and enjoying each other's company. 

It also gave us one of my favorite memes of all time, Paul Pierce looking at two phones

This year, the NBA powers-at-be gift us three competitions: the Skills Challenge, the 3-Point Contest, and of course, the Slam Dunk Contest. Let's break down the competition. 

The Skills Challenge: All-Star Saturday's Rookie Highlight

Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic grabs an offensive rebound during overtime against the Miami Heat at Amway Center

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Skills Challenge is a three-round competition that will feature three teams with three players each. First, a look at the teams:

The Utah Jazz are playing host for this year's All-Star festivities, and so they've entered a trio of Jazz players into the skills competition: Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler, and Collin Sexton. Side note: could a collection of Jazz players be called musicians? Instrumentalists? Who plays which instrument in this particular Jazz trio? I feel like Kessler is on the bass, while Clarkson and Sexton are both playing competing trumpet solos at the same time. 

The next set of competitors are called "Team Rooks," because obviously spelling out "Rookies" would've been too cumbersome. I get that many folks, mostly active or former NBA players, shorten rookie to "rook" much in the way we shorten veteran to vet. And it's a nice colloquialism that makes you feel like you're behind the curtain when you hear it. But spelled out on an official NBA website? It looks pretty silly!

Anyway, Team Rooks consists of the Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey of the Detroit Pistons, and Jabari Smith Jr. of the Houston Rockets. Banchero is having an excellent rookie campaign and is the prohibitive betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Ivey is off to a solid start for Detroit. Smith Jr.'s athleticism has translated to the NBA, but he needs to improve his shooting to get to where folks thought he was going to go before last year's draft. 

Rounding out the competition are the Antetokounmpo brothers aka Team Antetokounmpo. Giannis and Thanasis from Milwaukee, and their brother Alex, who is currently playing for the G-League's Wisconsin Herd. Your humble author has not watched the Disney movie about the Antetokounmpo brothers yet, and so I'll confess the only thing I know about the non-Giannis brothers is that Thanasis is a very solid hype man and de facto enforcer for the Bucks. I'm eager to tune into the Skills Competition to see if Alex or Thanasis have any, well, skills. 

At this point you're certainly wondering - what is the Skills Competition? Solid question, reader. The NBA has an incredibly long explanation of the rules on their website, but I'll summarize here. The first round is a relay: each player has to complete a few tasks - make a long pass, hit a corner three, dribble around some cones. One guy finishes, the next one goes. Like, you know, a relay. Fastest time wins the round and 100 points. 

Round two: passing. All three players stand on the baseline and attempt to hit a variety of targets at the same time. This sounds a lot like the Buzz Lightyear shoot 'em up game in Disney World, or the NFL's Quarterback accuracy challenge but with three quarterbacks throwing at the same time. I'm predicting chaos, particularly for Team Antetokounmpo and Team Rook. You get different points for different targets, which are added to the team's score. Cannot wait to see three passes bump into each other. 

The third round is a shooting contest. One minute, three players, one ball. Poor Walker Kessler is just going to be rebounding for Sexton and Clarkson. Totally thankless job.

If you're looking to wager on this - and if you are, please, please take a look at your life - I think Team Jazz is the way to go. I'm not touching Team Antetokounmpo because I've never seen Alex touch a basketball. Team Rooks is gonna be too fired up. This is the Utah Jazz Super Bowl, and they host whatever weird trophy the NBA has for this event. 

3-Point Contest: Tatum and Lilliard Lead the Field

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz in action during the second half of a game against the Brooklyn Nets at Vivint Arena

Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)Next up is truly the most entertaining part of the night - the 3-Point Contest

Pretty solid field this season. It will be fun to hear everyone critique Tyrese Haliburton's shooting form, because frankly, it's a little weird looking. Buddy Hield and Tyler Herro can both get hot and make things spicy; in fact, Hield won this contest back in All-Star 2020. Kevin Huerter is shooting a very solid 39% from 3-point range for the upstart Kings this season. 

Hometown hero Lauri Markkanen is having a career season and deserves to soak in as much of All-Star weekend as he can. Julius Randle is replacing Anfernee Simons, who is injured. 

But the real attractions here are Celtics star Jayston Tatum and Trail Blazers hero Damian Lillard. Tatum is a starting All-Star, while Dame is making his 7th All-Star appearance. Both are bonafide superstars in the NBA, and it's just fun to watch superstars be good at stuff. 

My pick? Former champion Hield is the betting favorite here. But I think Lillard has the marksmanship and the stamina to walk away with the trophy. Dark horse candidate? Markkanen. 

Slam Dunk Contest

Georgetown Hoyas Guard Mac McClung (2) dunks the ball with St. John's Red Storm Guard Mustapha Heron (14) defending during the second half of the Georgetown Hoyas versus the St. John's Red Storm

Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fascinatingly, the official name for the crown jewel of NBA Saturday Night is just the AT&T Slam Dunk. Not slam dunk contest. Not slam dunk competition. No word that reveals there's a winner. Just THE SLAM DUNK!

This season's four participants are Jericho Sims of the New York Knicks, Mac McClung of the Philadelphia 76ers, Trey Murphy III of the Pelicans, and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Rockets. 

If you recognize any of those players, congratulations - you're a hoops junkie. 

McClung has enough viral slams from his high school highlight reel to make him a sentimental favorite in this field. The fact that he's only 6-foot-2 also gives him a leg up on the competition, since he has to jump higher, which looks more impressive. 

Sims has serious bunnies. If this was a putback competition, he would be the odds-on favorite, no doubt. 

K.J. Martin has a bunch of dunks this season where he looks like he's just sorta floating in the air? We'll see if he has the creativity to match his athleticism. 

Trey Murphy III is the most accomplished NBA player of the group, averaging 30 minutes a night for the Pelicans. He's proven himself as an impressive in-game dunker, throwing down windmills, and double clutch monsters in the heat of competition. 

The pick here? I'm going Martin. But again - please don't gamble on this. It's judged by five guys with scorecards, all of whom are wearing earpieces. Couldn't be an easier event to rig!

MORE: Mac McClung, the G-League Star in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Is Ready for Takeoff