Trae Young reveals Donovan Mitchell’s idea to make All-Star Game more competitive

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell floated an interesting idea on how to make the NBA All-Star Game more competitive, with the Cleveland Cavaliers star sharing it with Eastern Conference teammate Trae Young during this season’s highly criticized contest.

“We were talking about it on the bench,” Young said. “It was Donovan’s idea. We were talkin’, and he talked about maybe havin’ a guy, an emcee, like how it is in New York or certain things, guys walkin’ on the court. Maybe that could make it a little bit more competitive.

“But I mean, it’s hard ’cause guys’ focus is on the team and makin’ sure that they stay healthy and don’t want to hurt each other when they’re playin’. But I think somethin’ like that can make it a little bit more prideful and make everybody be a little bit more competitive.”

In speaking with the Atlanta Hawks star, Rachel Nichols mentioned something like what is done at Rucker Park in New York City, where someone with a microphone hypes up the crowd and the players.

“It makes a little sense, for sure,” Young said.

Whether something like that would add the necessary level of competitiveness to the NBA All-Star Game would remain to be seen. But there are growing calls for something to be done after the most recent game ended with a 211-186 final score that obviously featured almost absolutely no defensive effort.

The winning Eastern Conference team attempted almost 100 3-point shots, and the losing Western Conference side attempted just one free throw. Game MVP Damian Lillard of the Milwaukee Bucks actually took and made a half-court shot that was not needed to beat any kind of buzzer.

Young’s point about avoiding injury or hurting someone else in a game that counts for nothing is valid, considering the highly competitive nature and grind of the NBA regular season and an emphasis on load management of star players.

Mitchell was making his second All-Star appearance with the Cavaliers after he was named to the game three times while with the Utah Jazz. On Sunday, he scored nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. He did not attempt any 2-point shots. The 27-year-old also took part in the 3-point contest the night before and apologized for not winning it.

The quality of the main game isn’t the only thing drawing criticism. The Slam Dunk Contest – once a highly anticipated highlight of All-Star Weekend – has seemingly lost most of its luster, with Paul Pierce comparing it to an ex-girlfriend that needs to be moved on from.

Even something considered a highlight of this year’s festivities – the 3-point shooting contest between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu – is drawing some backlash because of Kenny Smith’s commentary during the event.

With most of the reactions leaning heavily negative, something might need to change. So, maybe the league will take Mitchell’s idea into account.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.