The NBA instituted a new All-Star format last season. The two captains — i.e. the guys from each conference who received the most total votes — select from a pool of starters and a pool of reserves to make up their squads. This year LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have captains honors and will draft at 7 p.m. ET on TNT. It did away with the East vs. West format, something that was a bit overdue, and gave us a way for picking All-Star squads that every basketball fan knows: everyone lines up, captains pick, and the teams, to quote Fergie, play some basketball.
We decided to jack this format and draft teams on our own. To get this started, Robby won a coin flip, meaning he will get the first pick among the starters and, therefore, be LeBron for the purposes of this draft. For the reserves, Bill, operating as Giannis, will get the first pick. Also, because duh, Team LeBron gets Dwyane Wade, meaning Team Giannis gets Dirk Nowitzki. This should be universally agreed upon.
Let’s dive in.
Pick No. 1: Steph Curry
I went back and forth on whether I wanted Curry or Harden, and while James is going to be the MVP, I’d still rather have Steph on my All-Star squad because he’s a lethal three-point shooter and being LeBron James, I don’t need someone else to run iso sets next to me.
Pick No. 2: Kevin Durant
Sure, I will happily pair up Durant and Antetokounmpo. This is partly because that pairing would be absolutely incredible, and also because the thought of LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant on the same basketball team would stink on ice. Giannis can be the 6’10 monster who dominates inside, KD can be the 6’10 monster who dominates from the perimeter.
Pick No. 3: Joel Embiid
There isn’t a soul in these otherwise small starting lineups that stands much of a chance against Embiid. I’ll take the big fella and feast — also I can’t let Giannis and Embiid be in the same starting lineup because then they’d have all the size.
Pick No. 4: James Harden
I need a guard at some point, and Harden very well might be the league MVP up to this point in the season. This is part need, part best player available, and 100 percent something that I want to see in the All-Star Game, because man, Giannis-KD-Beard is a killer trio.
Pick No. 5: Kyrie Irving
LeBron loves a little bit of drama. There’s been chatter Kyrie might consider leaving Boston this summer and New York and L.A. could be his destinations. So, I could use another guard and why not stir up a little something in the process.
Pick No. 6: Kawhi Leonard
Of the remaining three players, Kemba Walker is easily the best dude in an All-Star setting, but I’ll save him for my final selection, both because I imagine he’ll still be there at No. 8 and because Kawhi is just so good. I need a center, but there aren’t any, so I’ll load up on another wing.
Pick No. 7: Paul George
I’ll round out my starting lineup with Paul George. He’s having an absurd season in OKC and he and Embiid together can help cover up some of my defensive liabilities on the perimeter, for however much that matters in an All-Star Game.
Pick No. 8: Kemba Walker
Get the crowd on my side, give me someone who can run the point and let Harden run around and do James Harden stuff off the ball, and round out my starting lineup. Let Kemba and Steph play 1-on-1 for a bit, too. That would be great.
Team LeBron starters: LeBron James, Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Paul George
Team Giannis starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker