There’s a chance we’ll actually get a somewhat competitive and compelling All-Star Game this season.
Whether we do or not – the past two editions have seen the Western Conference score nearly 200 points each time and win comfortably – is largely up to the players and specifically the captains.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry will be the two captains responsible for picking their teams after leading their respective conferences in voting.
The NBA also announced the All-Star starters on Thursday, determined by a combination of fan, player and media voting.
With the league implementing a new format, this is how the teams will be constructed: James and Curry will pick one after another from the pool of eight starters and 14 reserves – chosen by NBA head coaches and revealed on January 23 – until all players have been selected, regardless of conference.
Because LeBron was the overall vote leader, he’ll get the first pick before Curry.
While results of the draft and team rosters will be revealed in a one-hour special of TNT NBA Tip-Off on January 25, the actual draft won’t be televised.
As a quick aside, it’s a shame the league decided to not air the draft, which would be must-see TV as LeBron and Curry pick between their peers and in the process reveal how they feel about certain players.
Alas, we won’t get that. But what we could still get are rosters that group adversaries together or against each other, resulting in some popcorn-worthy situations.
Would it be more fun to see LeBron and Kyrie Irving together again, or on opposite sides? The caveat is that LeBron will have a say in which scenario plays out.
The same goes with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook – who’s not a starter but will definitely be named a reserve.
Just for fun, let’s do a mock draft for LeBron and Curry and try to pick the most fun and narrative-driven teams. We don’t know who the reserves are yet, so let’s just stick to the starters.
With the first pick, LeBron selects… Kevin Durant. After watching the Warriors add the former MVP to cripple his chances of winning another title, don’t you think LeBron wants to break that core up, even if it is for one exhibition game? Plus, Durant is the best player on the board, making it an easy decision.
With the second pick, Curry takes Giannis Antetokounmpo. Few players are more entertaining or awe-inspiring than the ‘Greek Freak’ and Curry will have a ball tossing him alley-oops. And Curry needs Giannis to guard one of LeBron or Durant.
Now we’re within Kyrie range for LeBron. He’s not necessarily the best player left, but he’s perfect for the All-Star Game environment. But all LeBron needs is any excuse to pass on him and with Anthony Davis still available, he’ll opt for one of the two New Orleans Pelicans stars. That way, LeBron gets a big so he doesn’t have to protect the paint, while also assuring he has the ball in his hands more.
Curry has a tough decision between Irving and James Harden now, right? Wrong. Curry and Harden are rivals – team-wise and individually in MVP races – who’ve had a bit of a spicy relationship, while Irving offers Steph the opportunity to stick it to LeBron. This is a good pick to get petty.
That leaves LeBron with Harden, while Curry finally adds some needed size with Joel Embiid – yes, over Cousins, who’s not exactly a first-choice team-mate.
LeBron, being the basketball mind he is, will take DeMar DeRozan to have more of a versatile small-ball lineup, leaving Curry with Cousins anyways.
This draft is not only ideal from a fan standpoint, it’s also incredibly realistic.
And if the players decide to try, we could end up with one of the better All-Star Games in recent memory.
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