Last year, LeBron James and Steph Curry went live to announce their respective All-Star teams. They didn’t announce how they drafted their teams though. This year, James and the new Team Captain out of the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo picked their All-Star Teams playground style.
(READ: SLAM PH All-Star Game Mock Draft)
James and Antetokounmpo alternately picked from the eight players in the Starters pool in the first round. James picked first, taking Kevin Durant. Antetokounmpo countered with Durant’s teammate Steph Curry. James then made former teammate Kyrie Irving his second pick. Antetokounmpo drafted Joel Embiid fourth overall.
Team LeBron finished the first round with Kawhi Leonard and James Harden while Team Giannis drafted Paul George and hometown All-Star, Kemba Walker to round out his team.
After the first round ended, James confirmed that he’s made Kevin Durant his first pick in back-to-back All-Star Games. There was speculation last year that James drafted Durant first, taking him away from his Warrior teammate, Curry. But it was never confirmed. During the draft, James finally confirmed that he did take Durant first last year as well.
The second round was even more interesting.
Team Giannis was picking first and Antetokounmpo went with his teammate Khris Middleton with the first pick from the Bench Pool. That left Anthony Davis for James to pick with his first pick. Antetokounmpo fired away with a tampering joke after James made that pick.
Team Giannis then went with Nikola Jokic and Team LeBron drafted another Warrior, Klay Thompson. Antetoukounmpo then threw a wrench in James’ plan when he drafted Ben Simmons to his team. “He took my guy,” according to James. Team LeBron drafted Damian Lillard next.
The two continued their second round picks with Antetokounmpo taking guys from his own conference like Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell and Nikola Vucevic. James was also drafting guys from the West like Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge and Karl-Anthony Towns. James finished the draft with Bradley Beal while Antetokounmpo picked Kyle Lowry.
In the third round, James picked his buddy Dwyane Wade as his special All-Star while Antetokounmpo drafted Dirk Nowitzki.
After the draft, in true James fashion, he surprised everyone with a trade proposal to Antetokounmpo. He offered up Westbrook in exchange for Simmons. He mentioned that Westbrook can bond with Team Giannis draftee Joel Embiid during the All-Star Game. Antetokounmpo tried to be ruthless and wanted to add Wade to the package but in the end agreed to the initial proposal. “I know Ben Simmons is your guy, so I’ll do it,” he said.
The trade had to be approved by the league and after all that here’s the final roster for the All-Star Game:
Starters: LeBron James (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Warriors), Kyrie Irving (Celtics), Kawhi Leonard (Raptors), James Harden (Rockets)
Reserves: Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Ben Simmons* (76ers), LeMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Dwyane Wade (Heat)
Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Stephen Curry (Warriors), Joel Embiid (76ers), Paul George (Thunder), Kemba Walker (Hornets)
Reserves: Khris Middleton (Bucks), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Russell Westbrook* (Thunder), Blake Griffin (Pistons), D’Angelo Russell (Nets), Nikola Vucevic (Magic), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
*Acquired via trade
Photos from Getty Images