With all the drama happening in the league lately, the NBA All-Star Weekend has somehow been put in the back shelf. But, right after the trade deadline passes, LeBron and Giannis will go on live TV to pick their teammates for the All-Star Game. And whatever happens during that draft will now fuel a whole week’s worth of news until the actual All-Star Weekend.
Because we love mock drafts here at SLAM PH, we got Jon Rodriguez and Aljo Dolores to pretend they’re playing in the All-Star Game and make their picks. Just like last year, Jon will be picking for Team LeBron, while Aljo will draft for Team Giannis.
FIRST ROUND (STARTERS)
Jon: For the first pick of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, Team LeBron selects…[Fetty Wap’s “Rewind” plays] Kyrie Irving. #FutureLaker
Aljo: Wow. Just, wow. Looks like Team LeBron will lose by being too emotional. I mean, I can’t believe you picked Kyrie over the best three-point shooter IN THE WORLD. Thanks for letting Steph Curry fall into my lap, dude.
Jon: Kyrie once believed the earth is flat, you better believe this. Too emotional? Give me Kawhi Leonard then.
Aljo: Best defensive player among the starters, huh? I wonder how he’ll match up with the best offensive weapon available: Kevin “Slim Reaper” Durant.
Jon: “Best offensive weapon available?” You mispelled James “Unassisted Points” Harden. Thank you for the 50 points.
Aljo: Dang it. I totally didn’t see him behind his beard. Oh well, gotta move on. Can’t go wrong with having three seven-footers in the starting lineup, right? I’m going with Joel Embiid.
Jon: Team LeBron has the drama (as usual), the points, and the lockdown D. We need the crowd. We need hometown hero Kemba Walker.
Aljo: Wow. I guess having Paul George as the consolation prize and Team Giannis’ arbitrary shooting guard ain’t that bad.
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
LeBron James (captain)
Jon: My strategy for this year’s mock draft was simple: swipe left. Curry and LeBron on one team doesn’t feel right. Being around LeBron is toxic? Bye, KD. Embiid’s got too many jokes. PG is still a Thunder? Give me Kyrie (an adult who can admit when he’s wrong), Kawhi (a robot with a twisted laugh), Kemba (for homecourt advantage), and Harden (the best offensive weapon available).
Giannis Antetokounmpo (captain)
Aljo: If Antetokounmpo means business in the All-Star Game, then he should surround himself with all the range he can get. That’s what I exactly planned for him. Imagine a marriage between the bizarre Milwaukee Bucks offense and the three-point shot. Four out of the five guys can shoot from deep on top of their excellent shot creation abilities. The other guy who can’t shoot? Well, he can dunk three steps after reaching the half court line. On defense, Durant, Embiid and Antetokoumpo will patrol the paint with their towering seven-foot frames (no, KD is not 6’9″). George will overwhelm the likes of Harden and Irving with his length that is above average for a typical guard. If this is NBA 2K, this is as unfair as it can get.
SECOND ROUND (RESERVES)
Aljo: For my first pick in the reserve list, I’m going to select guard available. MVP. Triple-double machine. Yeah, I’m picking Russell Westbrook.
Jon: ANTHONY DAVIS. Next.
Aljo: You can have all the drama you want on your team, I’m keeping it cool on my side. As cool as Nikola Jokic’s passes over your guys’ heads. Cool? Cool cool cool cool.
Jon: Noooooo not Nikola. Fine. Give me the other Nikola. The less exciting but equal stat stuffer Nikola. The forever on the trading block Nikola. Vucevic!
Aljo: Time to put your team into absolute zero temperature. D’Angelo Russell’s daggers will put ice in his veins and in Team LeBron’s chances of winning.
Jon: Tsk. That hurt. That really hurt. Give me Klay’s good vibes.
Aljo: Perhaps I should hurt your team some more and send Blake Griffin’s Space Jam-worthy dunks your way.
Jon: Oh hi Blake, it’s me, Ben Simmons.
Aljo: Oh hello Ben, have you met Karl Anthony Towns with a jumpshot?
Jon: Okay before you say and do anything crazy, give me DWade because banana boat reasons.
Aljo: Okay, I guess I’ll take Old Man Dirk Nowitzki then.
Jon: Good pick. Because it allows me to get Damian Lillard.
Aljo: Damn, this draft is getting tough. I guess I’ll take the better Blazer, then: LaMarcus Aldridge.
Jon: I’m picking Middleton because the Wizards suck and Lowry looks bored.
Aljo: Lowry looks bored? That’s Kawhi rubbing off him. You know what else he got from Kawhi? Winning. And I want winners on my team, that’s why I’m picking him.
Jon: For the last pick of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, Team LeBron selects…Spencer Dinwiddie. He’s not an All-Star? Why not? Okay, whatever. Beal then.
LeBron James (captain)
Jon: *Spencer Dinwiddie. I know, I know. He’s injured. Inconsistent. Not even a starter. But Dinwiddie is living proof that if you work hard enough, you’ll get somewhere in life. Funky name notwithstanding. He deserves a mention.
Having said that, Team LeBron with a 3-and-D five of LeBron-Harden-Kawhi-AD-Klay will destroy Team Giannis, 204-182. The beauty of Team LeBron is that it has LeBron, the most powerful force the NBA has seen since dunking was invented. Being the top vote-getter despite moving to the West is evidence. LeBron, as the Lakers surely know by now, run the league. Surround him with any four players and he’ll take the team to the winning circle. Unless the team sucks, then the whole roster will be shipped out in garbage bags like discards from a Marie Kondo purge. Good news is that there’s no trading mid-game on All-Star Sunday. Prayers up for Team Giannis.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (captain)
Aljo: Here’s my rule of thumb when drafting players: get as many guys with weird skillsets as you can. That’s what I tried to do here. Team Giannis can enjoy the services of a triple-double machine, a seven-foot point center, a dunking machine who shows flashes of his playmaking abilities, a unicorn and the best European to ever play the game. Having Westbrook, Jokic, Griffin, Towns and, throughout his entire career, Nowitzki in their respective teams is already a luxury on its own. Having all of them together? It’s like the heaven’s gate opened as the basketball gods bestow the greatest gift they can give to the All-Star Game.
Having Russell, Aldridge and Lowry on the team is a big bonus as well. Although their skillsets are pretty much normal compared to their teammates, the rate at which these three perform isn’t average at all. Aldridge has been a beast on offense up to the midrange. Lowry has been a steady point guard for the Raptors. Russell has been leading the Nets’ recent run that puts them back on playoff contention.
Overall, this might the best talent available for Team Giannis given the format of the draft. It’s a great mix of shot creators, shooters and playmakers of all sizes. I guess Team LeBron should prepare to lose by 42 points in Charlotte.
Photo from Getty Images