The NBA All-Star game wasn’t always a joke. Sure, for a few quarters here and there, the two teams would take turns dunking on each other. But it also provided us with some great memories. Like Shaq dunking on David Robinson in his hometown (the host city was San Antonio) in 1996. Magic Johnson making a comeback to the court after being diagnosed with HIV in 1992 was also memorable. It was a chance for the fans to see the best players in the NBA all at once, in a game that could previously only be imagined.
Recently though, the competition hasn’t been there. The games have looked more like shootarounds, with teams lining up to the dunk the ball or hoist up a three against zero defense, and scores nearing a ridiculous 200 points. This year, the NBA made an effort to change this, and spark a competitive fire under the butts of the players, by allowing two team captains to choose their teammates from a pool of 22 other All-Stars, playground style. On January 25th, 2018, LeBron James and Steph Curry would complete the very first NBA All-Star Draft; unfortunately, the NBA missed a huge opportunity in televising this (what they should have done is had the two captains pick the teams day of, in true playground fashion. But what do I know?).
Now, we the fans can only imagine how the draft went down, who was picked first, who was picked last, and what their thought process was during this historic moment.
… OR we could look at both teams, use what we know about the players and, using logic, recreate the draft order ourselves. This really isn’t that hard, trust me. I’ll be your guide through what really happened during the very first NBA All-Star Draft, pick by pick. Let’s begin:
Note: I am going to proceed under the assumption that both team captains were required to fill out their starting lineup before selecting reserves.
Starters: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving
Reserves: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love, Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook, John Wall
Starters: Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden
Reserves: Al Horford, Kyle Lowry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony Towns, Damien Lillard
- Team LeBron: The first pick is obvious. Kevin Durant. Otherwise, he would be on Steph’s team.
- Team Steph: I believe the second pick was Joel Embiid. Look at Curry’s team, he is hands down the best player on it, aside from Giannis Antetokounmpo. But, had Giannis gone second, I think we would see a picture of LeBron’s team with Embiid on it instead. Also, Curry would know that, although Giannis is a great player, LeBron already has two of the greatest wings in the game in himself and Durant, and would not need to draft another. He could wait another pick to grab Giannis.
- Team LeBron: This makes the third pick the skilled and lengthy Anthony Davis. I believe he was picked before Boogie because LeBron knew Curry had no need for Cousins with Embiid already on the team. So he could wait to draft the remaining center on the board.
- Team Steph: Giannis Antetokounmpo is much too talented to remain on the board any longer, so he is drafted fourth.
- Team LeBron: I believe this is where LeBron selects DeMarcus Cousins. This marks when both LeBron and Curry begin drafting teammates together, a trend that continues throughout the draft.
- Team Steph: Curry needs a shooting guard, and the only two on the board are DeMar DeRozan and James Harden. Harden is selected here.
- Team LeBron: LeBron selects his final starter, and I could see him reluctantly selecting Kyrie Irving over DeRozan. Perhaps this is the point of the draft they shared a laugh at.
- Team Steph: DeMar DeRozan.
- Team LeBron: This is the first reserve selected, so of course is is the reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
- Team Steph: It’s starting to get a little tricky, and I’m beginning to guess now, but I believe size wins out once again, and Curry drafts the most talented big man available in Karl Anthony Towns (why do we have to say his middle name? Shouldn’t he just be Karl Towns?). I think he selects him as his first reserve because if you look at LeBron’s team, it’s pretty obvious he was drafting size after selecting Westbrook. So, had Curry left KAT on the board any longer than this, I imagine LeBron scoops him up at eleven.
- Team LeBron: I’m going to say LaMarcus Aldridge here. Curry’s team lacks size, from his starters to his reserves, and he may have drafted a familiar big man from his own conference, if given the chance.
- Team Steph: Kyle Lowry is not only the next most talented player on the board, but if chemistry is as big a deal to the two captains as they say it is, Curry has now successfully paired the backcourt duo from Toronto.
- Team LeBron: LeBron continues to stockpile size with his pick of Kristaps Porzingis (or Porzingas, as LeBron would write in his selection of the Latvian big man). Again, Curry’s tiny team could use some length, and a big man shooting nearly 40% from three would have been perfect.
- Team Steph: With size all but exhausted from the pool of remaining All-Stars, Curry elects to choose with chemistry in mind again, selecting Jimmy Butler, Towns’ teammate from Minnesota.
- Team LeBron: Having drained all of the size from the draft, LeBron can now start thinking chemistry as well when selecting Victor Oladipo, who played with Westbrook in OKC last season.
- Team Steph: Curry begins to select his Golden State teammates, starting with Klay Thompson. He starts with Klay, because he’s the one teammate other than Durant he fears LeBron could pick, as he knows for damn sure LeBron doesn’t want to play with Draymond’s donkey-kicking ass.
- Team LeBron: LeBron sees Curry choosing his own teammates as an opening to take the Washington Wizard’s All-Star backcourt. He begins this process by selecting John Wall.
- Team Steph: Curry chooses his last All-Star teammate, Draymond Green.
- Team LeBron: Bradley Beal. The Washington Wizard backcourt is complete.
- Team Steph: Damien Lillard is the next best player available, and is selected here.
- Team LeBron: With only Kevin Love and Al Horford remaining, LeBron selects his Cavaliers teammate (Don’t believe LeBron in the above video. Kevin Love is not Kevin Durant, he didn’t have to worry about Steph stealing his teammate from him. He could wait until the last possible pick to draft him).
- Team Steph: Al Horford is the last player selected, because had chemistry been such a big deal to both captains, LeBron would have planned ahead to draft Horford, to pair him with Kyrie. This doesn’t happen, resulting in the Celtics as the only teammates not on the same All-Star roster (aside from Kevin Durant and the Warriors, of course).
So, there you have it! Kevin Durant went first, and Al Horford went last, which is what everyone wanted to know. Hopefully, next year, I won’t have to recreate the drama myself, and we can all watch as the players are selected, picking apart their selections as they are made. Now, hopefully the game is worth all of the hype.
Tip off is February 18th in Los Angeles.
The preceding post was not fact, but rather the closest and most realistic explanation to the top secret All-Star Draft available to you anywhere. I admit, the middle to late selections may be a stretch, but I maintain my arguments for the starting lineups, and of course, Steph Curry’s default selection of Al Horford. For more nonsense being tossed around as facts, follow me on Twitter @cleanupglass