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5 winners and losers from 2023 NBA All-Star Saturday, including Mac McClung

The greater part of the Association is taking a break as the basketball community turns its attention to NBA All-Star Saturday, which brings arguably the most exciting event of the weekend.

While the complete itinerary of NBA All-Star events, beginning with the All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday, brings in plenty of viewers, there is no contest bigger than the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest, delivering the most memorable highlights of the weekend.

But that’s just one event, fans are also treated to the Kia Skills Challenge and the Starry 3-Point Contest. Each event obviously had its winners, but as we know, with every winner, there is a loser. In the end, who stood out as either a winner or loser from NBA All-Star Saturday? Let’s dive in.

Winner: Utah – Both the city and the Jazz

NBA: All Star-Saturday Night
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This year’s event was hosted by the city of Utah, at Vivint Arena. Just like last year, when the game was hosted by Cleveland, it was the hometown team that put on a show for the local crowd. In 2021 we saw the trio of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen win the NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge, and now the Cavaliers are experiencing a great amount of success.

Now it was the Jazz’s turn, with Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and Walker Kessler doing their duty, winning the Skills Challenge in Utah. Could we see the Jazz take a step forward next season led by this same trio? Who knows, but for one night, the city of Utah, with the Jazz included, should be viewed as winners.

Related: DK Metcalf throws down powerful dunk to kick off NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

Loser: Julius Randle trying to hang with NBA’s snipers

NBA: All Star-Saturday Night
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When the NBA contacted Julius Randle about participating in the three-point contest, he should have flat-out declined. He’s a career 33% 3-point shooter, which isn’t exactly elite. While Randle has the ability to hit shots from distance, no one would ever consider him among the top 30 three-point shooters in basketball.

We continue to be amazed by some of the participants from All-Star weekend, but this should have been a red flag from the very beginning. How did Randle do when given the chance? Not well. The New York Knicks All-Star scored just 13 points, which was the second-fewest on the day. While Randle was the injury replacement for Anfernee Simons, the NBA could have found a more capable contestant.

Related: NBA All-Star Weekend: History, participants and FAQ

Winner: Damian Lillard reminds us he’s still elite

NBA: All Star-Saturday Night
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

While we saw some woeful efforts in the three-point contest, we also saw some red-hot shooting. Portland’s Damian Lillard didn’t have the highest score in an individual round, that honor went to Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton (31 points), but the Trail Blazers star did take home the trophy.

Lillard had 26 points in the opening round and another 26 in the finals to outscore Indiana’s dynamic duo of Buddy Hield and Haliburton. This was Lillard’s first 3-Point Contest Trophy in a total of three appearances, and we don’t see any need for him to defend the crown in the future.

Related: Ranking the 10 NBA All-Star Game starters: From Zion Williamson to Luka Doncic

Loser: Kevin Huerter throws up bricks in 3PT contest

NBA: All Star-Saturday Night
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As much as we want to rip on Randle’s 13-point effort, Sacramento’s Kevin Huerter is a bonafide sniper. He has a career rate of 38% from distance and is maintaining that effort by hitting from downtown at a 39% clip this season.

But Huerter’s on this list for a reason, and it’s not good. He had the embarrassing honor of recording the fewest points of the contest, scoring just eight points. It’s hard to imagine Huerter’s practice round went much worse than what millions of fans witnessed on Saturday once the lights were on.

Related: How to add more sizzle to NBA All-Star Weekend? We reveal our plan

Winner: Mac McLung gains a legion of fans

NBA: All Star-Saturday Night
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Be honest, prior to tonight’s Dunk Contest, had you heard the name, Mac McClung? Other than maybe seeing the name listed on this year’s list of candidates, a large portion of basketball fans had never heard of McClung, let alone see him on a basketball court.

His name is now seared into the memory of millions of fans all across the world, thanks to his outstanding effort on Saturday night. The 6-foot-2 McClung was the shortest participant in this year’s NBA Dunk Contest, but that didn’t matter once it was time to perform.

The rising star, who is actually in the G-League with the Philadelphia 76ers, had two perfect dunk scores of 50 from the panel of judges, and it was clear he was this year’s best dunker. How could you not root for McClung to get another opportunity in the NBA after seeing what he’s capable of?

Related: NBA All-Star Draft: How we would pick teams in 2023

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