We Drafted The 2017 All-Star Game With LeBron James And Kevin Durant As Team Captains

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The NBA regular season is still two weeks away, which means All-Star weekend is still four months away, but with the league announcing dramatic format changes to the 2018 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, it’s the hot topic in early October.

The new format will do away with the traditional East vs. West matchup in favor of a playground style draft, in which one captain from the East and West will draft from the entire pool of All-Star voted players, regardless of conference affiliation. In a season in which the East has seen a number of stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler migrate West, this was probably a wise move from the NBA to pique fans’ interest in a game that would otherwise be tremendously lopsided.

People have floated the idea of having team captains and a draft in the past (as the NHL has done) because with basketball there’s something natural about it. It’s how teams are picked on playgrounds, parks, and gyms across the country, and it will make for some very interesting drama as captains deal with building a team but also their many friendships around the league.

We won’t know what the player pool for the 2018 All-Star Game will be right now, but we can look back at last year’s game and imagine how different it would have looked with these rules. So, that’s what we’ve done, inserting Kevin Durant (picked by Jamie) and LeBron James (picked by Robby) as team captains, and alternating picks until we’d run through the entire 2017 All-Star squads to shuffle them around.

You can see how the draft went below, and our explanation on why we did what we did (trying our best to get in the minds of the two players as they would be in February 2017), with Team LeBron holding the first pick.

1. Steph Curry (LJ)
2. James Harden (KD)
3. Anthony Davis (LJ)
4. Kyrie Irving (KD)
5. Russell Westbrook (LJ)
6. Klay Thompson (KD)
7. Kawhi Leonard (LJ)
8. Paul George (KD)
9. Giannis Antetokounmpo (LJ)
10. Draymond Green (KD)
11. Jimmy Butler (LJ)
12. John Wall (KD)
13. Carmelo Anthony (LJ)
14. DeMarcus Cousins (KD)
15. DeAndre Jordan (LJ)
16. DeMar DeRozan (KD)
17. Isaiah Thomas (LJ)
18. Marc Gasol (KD)
19. Kyle Lowry (LJ)
20. Kemba Walker (KD)
21. Gordon Hayward (LJ)
22. Paul Millsap (KD)

Team LeBron:
Starters: Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Anthony Davis
Reserves: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward

LeBron’s explanation: I’m not worried about my friends or teammates being mad; this is a competition, and LeBron wants to win. Also, since CP3 and Dwyane didn’t make it, LeBron would only really care about getting Melo on the squad. I know I have a ton of wing players and not a lot at the five, but that’s OK. It’s the All-Star Game, and I’m all about the positionless revolution.

Taking Steph with the top pick was absolutely an effort to break up the Warriors boys and to also get the best shooter on my team. I can’t let them all just team up, and Steph’s the best of the bunch, so I might as well add the two-time MVP to my backcourt. Knowing KD would be petty and not take Russ early, I took Anthony Davis second and waited to scoop Russ with my third choice.

Him taking Kyrie with the fourth overall pick was also a blessing. I don’t know why, but things haven’t been right this year between us, and I (LeBron) could use some time away from him this weekend. I’m sure we’ll figure it out going forward and be fine for the future, but this justified me not picking him without us having to have an awkward conversation.

From there, it was an easy decision to take Kawhi. He’s a beast and brings a little defense to the game, and then I went best available from there with Giannis and Butler. I might be heavy on the wing, but Jimmy plays the two and Giannis can play the four. DeAndre gives me more big-man depth and another high-flier, which is what All-Star’s all about. Admittedly, for the way the roster is built, I should’ve gone Millsap over Hayward, but oh well. Neither was going to play much.

Team Durant
Starters: Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Klay Thompson Paul George, Kevin Durant
Reserves: Draymond Green, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, Marc Gasol, Kemba Walker, Paul Millsap

Durant’s explanation: Being named an All-Star game captain is no enviable task. There’re all sorts of potentially treacherous waters to navigate: current and former teammates to be placated, rivals and arch-nemeses to be appropriately ostracized, and finally, way down on the totem pole of priorities, an actual team to be assembled that is capable of winning that oversized Publishers Clearing House check for the appointed local charity.

For this particular thought-experiment, I (me) had to set aside my own coldly-analytical approach and try to get inside the mind of Kevin Durant, which I’m going to safely assume to be a petty, insular, and nepotistic place. But I don’t want to look too nepotistic, so with ‘Bron shocking the world and choosing my new best friend Steph with the first overall pick, I chose my old buddy James Harden. Regardless of the league’s concerted efforts to make this game more interesting/competitive, it’s still an All-Star game, after all, so it’s hard to argue with Harden’s combination of deadly scoring and a basic, cellular-level aversion to defense. But most important, Russ and I still aren’t on speaking terms, and it’s fun to mess with the media, so there you have it. This new format has given an already supremely petty league a whole new eight-lane avenue for pettiness.

I was shocked that Kyrie was still available (which made me wonder if there’s something going on behind the scenes there; perhaps we’ll find out this summer). See above about All-Star game flashiness and scoring, which is the same rationale for Wall, Kemba, DeMar, and PG. Klay and Dray are obvious choices.

Big men don’t usually fare well in an All-Star game, but I wanted to round out my roster with at least two legit frontcourt players, so I picked the ones I (KD) personally find the most entertaining. Marc has crazy court vision and is most likely good for some highlight-reel no-look passes, while Boogie is just unpredictable enough that he could bring this whole enterprise to its surgically-repaired knees. My sincerest apologies to Paul Millsap, who I think is a fine player. The league really should’ve seen this coming.