In years past, fans would gather to watch twelve of the brightest and best from the NBA Eastern and Western Conferences face off against each other in an exhibition game. This usually resulted in a game of dunks, zero defense and guys having fun but avoiding injury. So what could potentially be the greatest game of the season, regular and post, has always been kind of a joke.
In an attempt to make the game more interesting, the NBA switched up the format this year. The first step was getting rid of the East vs. West and creating one big pool for two voted-in captains to draft from. The 2018 captains are LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Their respective teams are as follows.
Team LeBron Starters: Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins (Injury replacement: Paul George)
Team LeBron Reserves: Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall
Team Steph Starters: James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid
Team Steph Reserves: Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Karl-Anthony Towns, Al Horford
Shortly after the teams were selected, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins suffered a season ending injury and has since been replaced by Paul George.
Now that the geographical barriers have been removed, it will be fun to watch matchups we might not see outside of the Olympic teams. It’s no secret that Lebron drafted arguably the second best player in the league, Kevin Durant, first. Stealing Durant away from his regular season teammates and reuniting him with former teammate Russell Westbrook will definitely make for a more interesting game. LeBron also drafted his former teammate Kyrie Irving who made it plain at the end of last season that he was done playing in LeBron’s shadow. Irving was traded to the Celtics and now sits atop the Eastern Conference.
To sweeten the pot a little more in an attempt to stir up that competitive spirit amongst the players, the winners’ compensation has been doubled. “Each player on the winning team will receive $100,000, and the losing team players will pocket $25,000, league sources said. The only modification is the winner’s compensation, with a $50,000 boost from previous years.”
So while it appears as though this could be the playground pick-up game of the century, every player’s priority is leaving All Star Weekend healthy. Does a $75,000 boost inspire defense? Fans will just have to wait and see. The All Star Game will air February 18, 2018 at 8pm ET on TNT.
- Washington Wizards/Team Lebron Reserve John Wall is requiring knee surgery and will be replace by Detroit Piston Andre Drummond.
- Cleveland Cavalier/Team Lebron Reserve Kevin Love suffered a fractured hand and his All Star replacement is pending.