For the first time in league history, the All-Star rosters will be determined by the two leading vote-getters from each conference. This year, the highly popular former MVPs LeBron James and Stephen Curry have earned this distinct honor. Each player will alternate picks until the remaining eight starters have been picked. This style could lead to some interesting pairings that fans have never seen before.
This piece will present a mock-up of how the All-Star draft might turn out. Having been the top vote-getter overall, James is granted with the first overall pick:
LeBron’s First Pick — James Harden
The logical pick here is Durant. Durant and James are familiar with each other from their time sharing the floor in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Their contrasting styles complement each other nicely. Drafting the near 7′ footer would also put Curry in a bind considering James’ team would then have the two best players in the world.
But making the logical pick is no fun. More than anybody in today’s game, James understands the All-Star game. He’s gone on record saying he’s trying to win, but he gets that entertainment is paramount. He’ll grab a top-5 player and fellow MVP candidate to charge upon the mighty Warriors duo.
Steph’s First Pick — Kevin Durant
Curry faces endless sub tweets from Durant’s burner account if he doesn’t select his teammate when given a chance. The pair have helped lead the defending champ Warriors to a 37-9 record despite both superstars having dealt with injuries this season. It seems as if they are getting more and more comfortable playing alongside each other, and the best is surely yet to come.
LeBron’s Second Pick — Giannis Antetokounmpo
“The Greek Freak” is ready for center stage after his second straight All-Star selection. His immense talent aside, Giannis gives James a formidable defender to throw at Durant. There might be players more deserving of this spot, but Captain Bron can’t allow Curry to have two 7′ footers that play like guards. James flashes some GM chops with this pick.
Steph’s Second Pick — Anthony Davis
Of all the remaining potential draftees, Davis represents the most consistent producer (and personality) of the bunch. Flexibility is key in a draft like this. Not knowing what the rest of your roster might look like should push the captains to selecting the players with the most positional versatility. Davis can play either big spot, and has the ability to defend any number of All-Stars.
In the event that there’s any sort of rim protection in this exhibition, Davis is a gifted shot blocker that doesn’t shy away from contesting finishes at the rim.
LeBron’s Third Pick — DeMarcus Cousins
Recognizing that the pool of big men is dwindling, James scoops up Davis’ New Orleans teammate in Boogie. Cousins is an elite talent that can shoot with range, handle like a guard, and finish in traffic. His skill level at the center position is unparalleled (although the gap is rapidly closing).
Selecting Cousins also serves a second purpose. There are murmurs around the web of the Cavs being a potential landing spot for the four-time All-Star. Given that James and Cousins have never played on the same team before, they can get a feel for each other through practice and Sunday night’s game.
Steph’s Third Pick — Joel Embiid
The last big man on the board goes to Curry’s side. Picking either guard that is available could be an interesting strategy, but Curry would risk facing a major size disadvantage. Embiid matches up well with either Cousins or Davis, and his electric personality fits in well with the All-Star festivities.
LeBron’s Fourth Pick — DeMar DeRozan
This scenario right here is exactly why so many people are petitioning for the All-Star draft to be televised/streamed. Will James select his former teammate that made it clear he wanted out of Cleveland? What’s the point of having the draft in the first place if we can’t know for certain. The league has stripped away the drama by choosing not to air the draft.
The smart money is on James avoiding Irving all together, and opting for the bulkier DeRozan. Harden, James and Giannis is enough ball handling as it is.
Steph’s Fourth Pick — Kyrie Irving
Curry exhibits some gamesmanship by saving Irving for his last pick. He knows that James won’t draft him, so Curry can focus on filling up the other spots on the roster. These two have already linked up once before when they won gold at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Adding Irving to Curry’s lineup gives them another deadly outside shooter. Knocking down long-range jumpers typically leads to good results in games that have very little defense. Good luck preventing this backcourt from putting the ball in the basket.
The official rosters will be released Thursday night (Jan. 23) on TNT.