The 2018 All-Star Game rosters have finally been set. The new format of team captains led to an intriguing selection process involving LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Who were the two biggest stars in the NBA going to pick for their teams? Well, those decisions have been made and James did not disappoint in creating some interesting storylines for the Feb. 18 game.
LeBron reunites with Kyrie
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving spent a lot of time together when James made his Cleveland return. They won a title and shared some experiences that not all teammates are able to enjoy. However, Irving's offseason trade request led to a little bit of drama between the two. Nothing major, but some believe it was Irving's desire to escape James' shadow that led to his request.
Despite their breakup, James had no issues taking Irving in the All-Star Game draft to set up a reunion. They'll start together just like old times and their familiarity with each other will surely provide some benefit in the game. It will be fun to watch the two former teammates to go to work together and maybe even have a lob play of some kind.
There is of course some potential awkwardness in all this, but Irving and James appear to have moved on from the trade so any that is there will probably not be noticeable to the common fan.
K.D. and Russ together again
Once again Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are on the same All-Star team. Last season their feud was the most awkward and tense part of All-Star Weekend. It also created one of the best highlights when Durant threw a lob dunk to Westbrook during the game. This year will likely not have quite the same effect, but it's always entertaining seeing these two together on the floor.
They could have very easily avoided being on the same team, but James taking them leads to entertainment for everybody. But for Westbrook, it seems he can't escape a reunion no matter where he goes. Not only is Durant on this team, but former Thunder player and current Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is on Team LeBron as well.
A perhaps happier reunion will involve Kevin Love and Westbrook. The two played together at UCLA and it's not often the two get to team up since they're have been in different conferences the past few seasons. Love posted on his Instagram how excited he was to play with his former teammate so there's definitely some excitement on his part.
James breaks up the Warriors
Nobody really knows who was taken with the first pick of the All-Star draft, but it doesn't take much investigating to make a good guess on Durant being the first selected (Durant hinted as much). He's not only the most talented player in the selection pool, but this gave James a chance to break up the Warriors.
There's a subtle troll here in splitting up Durant from his teammates. It would have been very easy for everybody to play nice and keep the teams clean, but James had some fun with it. That's exactly what this draft needed to create some interest around it. Teammates being separated and rivals being paired together.
Was breaking Durant off from the rest of the Warriors part of his plan all along? It's hard to say, but this will be the first time they've been on a team together since the 2012 Olympics. It's rare that arguably the two best players in the world get to play together and that should be entertaining for basketball fans everywhere
Curry takes the rest
While James mixed things up, Curry built his team exactly how someone would expect him to. He kept as many Warriors together as possible. This obviously avoids the drama of a teammate passing on someone, but it's very boring in terms of petty entertainment. Alas, not everything can be as great as the dramas on CBS.
How fun would it have been though if Curry had taken a Love or even split up Wizards stars John Wall and Bradley Beal? His team is fine, but it would have been nice to see him get in on the fun a little bit of what this draft could mean. One of the potential strengths of this new format is getting to see teammates go up against each other. There isn't enough of that here.
How good is Team LeBron?
In terms of structure, James has actually put together a pretty solid team. His starting lineup of Irving-James-Durant-Anthony Davis-DeMarcus Cousins has a lot of great versatility, length and size. It also allows James to not have to play power forward, which was surely not intentional in any way.
James' reserves keep up the size with guys like Kristaps Porzingis and Love on the bench. Whichever rim his team is attacking will need to be extra re-enforced. It might break from dunks with the amount of size he has, along with attackers like Oladipo, Wall and Westbrook driving the lane.
If James' team does have one weakness it's a lack of spacing. He does have 3-point shooting from Beal, but most of the players his roster are at their best near the rim. Of course, considering the lack of defense in the All-Star Game, his team shouldn't have any problem scoring.
How good is Team Steph?
Of course Team Steph is filled to the brim with 3-point shooting. James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry and Damian Lillard could be enough. Add in Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid and Al Horford and his entire team is going to be spotting up from the 3-point line all game long.
Not that anybody actually plays defense in the All-Star Game, but if they did, Curry's team would feature a lot of switching and versatility. There are plenty of guys who can guard multiple positions without being exploited. Of course, there won't be any defense so this roster won't get the chance to show that very often.
Curry's team is full of teammates that know each other well. That chemistry could help with creating some highlight-level dunks, but they don't have quite the same size as Team LeBron. That could potentially cause an issue.
Who has the edge?
If there has to be a favorite to win this exhibition then go with the starting lineup that has the most star power. Team Steph has the shooting to keep the game close all night, and maybe push it out of hand if the score gets too lopsided, but a close game isn't what they want. At the end of the All-Star Game, teams typically roll with the starters that the fans voted in.
If that is the case then Team James' size and star-power advantage is going to become very noticeable in comparison to Curry's youth and size. James' team should be given the slight edge at this moment. There's just too much to like about his roster.
Of course, in a game where anything can happen, all of this really goes out the window. These are all All-Stars. Let's just hope that it's a fun and entertaining event.
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