The NBA has decided to do something fun and unique with the All-Star Game in 2018. Instead of having the rosters broken down by Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference, each conference will have a captain and then select teams from a pool of players. It’s almost a playground-style approach, and it is an awesome way to freshen up a game that has gotten kind of stale in recent years.
The issue that many fans have is how team selection would happen. Instead of a live draft that happens on television, the captains will make their selections behind closed doors, which takes much of the intrigue out of the concept of a draft.
It’s drawn the ire of many, and on Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained why the league made the decision to go with a more conservative approach. He admitted that this is “a new initiative” that could “develop over time,” but still believes this is the best move for now because it doesn’t put captains in potentially awkward positions.
“Yes, it would be more fun if we had that kind of draft,” Silver said. “On the other hand, I recognize that, in picking a team to perform in the here and now, it’s a little different than drafting where you’re selecting players for the long term because, in picking a team, you want guys that are gonna compliment each other.
“There was a sense from the players that it put them in an impossible position where they’re picking one player over another, in part not because they necessarily think that player is better than another player,” Silver continued. “Maybe because they have a personal relationship with a player or they think that player will be a better compliment to the players, and that invariably, if they just did it as a pure draft, guys would say ‘I can’t believe that such and such was selected before that player.'”
Silver even acknowledges how much more fun it would be if this happened live, and to his credit, he does leave the window open for the league to tinker with this in the future. Still, it seems a bit odd that the league and its players are so worried that, say, people would be taken aback by a captain selecting their friends, right? No one would be stunned if LeBron James spent his first pick on Dwyane Wade, or if Kevin Durant passed on Russell Westbrook to take someone else with whom he doesn’t have a personal history.
This is the major appeal of switching to this style of roster construction for an All-Star Game, and hopefully, this changes starting with next year’s game.