The NBA missed an opportunity which is rare for the forward thinking league. They did not televise the first ever All-Star draft which proved to be entertaining even if it was just talked about afterwards. LeBron James clearly enjoyed the experience and if you look at his roster, one in which he said was built to win, he made sure his team was going to be dominant. Whether they are going to win is something altogether different.
When the NBA thought up this scheme, it was to interject life in a game no one cares about anymore. NBA Saturday night is more entertaining with the Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout and Dunk Contest. The All-Star game is a yawn because it’s not close to being competitive. It’s hard to care when the players don’t care.
This spice up the product moment was to give it a lot of oxygen. Let the leading vote getters pick the teams. On paper, LeBron got over. He was the leading vote getter so he chose Kevin Durant. From there he continued grabbing bigs and NBA experience. DeMarcus Cousins. 6-11, 8th year in the league. Anthony Davis. 7-0, 6th year in the league. Kevin Durant. 6-9, 11th year in the league. His small is Kyrie. 6-2, 7th year. On the bench he has more bigs in LaMarcus Aldridge and Kristaps Porzingis. Russell Westbrook, a two-time All Star MVP, is Kyrie’s back-up and Bron’s teammate Kevin Love wasn’t shunned by him despite their recent team meeting riot. Add in scorers Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo. It’s a team with zero weaknesses. They have speed on the perimeter in Kyrie and Russ, size and versatility up front with Durant, Boogie and Davis. And for pick and pop, there is Aldridge and Porzingis.
Steph went younger with his crew. 5 year veteran Giannis Antetokounmpo. James Harden, 9 years in the league and a game built to drop 40 in an All-Star game. Another scorer in DeMar DeRozan who was in the same draft class as Harden but he doesn’t really have an All-Star game. DeRozan loves the midrange and not so much the three off the dribble or catch. Steph picked Embiid who is in his first All-Star game, his only real big as a starter. On the bench are teammates Klay and Dray and Kyle Lowry. Curry wasn’t into bigs. He just has Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench. More guard scoring in Dame Lillard, Jimmy Butler. Al Horford is also on the Curry team.
Steph is getting a lot less love than LeBron but Steph built his team for a Staples Center run and gun, guards push the pace and drain threes. The point: tire all those bigs out who are just going to quit.
Kudos, I guess, for the NBA who did the job, at least temporarily, to make things spicy like Kevin Durant as a two guard. The All-Star game in L.A. is more interesting than it was last year. But the game itself? It will probably be the same old yawning thing. 140-132. Only the first quarter watchable.