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Team Steph vs. Team LeBron: Position by position breakdown of the 2018 All-Star teams

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Let’s take a closer look at this year’s All-Star teams.

Brand Jordan All-Star Uniforms & All-Star Rosters Unveiling Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

As you may well have noticed, things are a little bit different in this year’s All-Star game. Yes, Stephen Curry and LeBron James were once again the top vote getters, and yes we all voted by conference still — picking five starters each from the West and East — but in the actual game, conferences no longer matter. (Side Note: Let’s hope this is the first step towards having a #1-16 seeded tournament in the playoffs, ending the long standing tradition of having three or four teams from the Eastern Conference who just don’t belong in the postseason. Although, to be fair, the bottom of the East has been significantly more competitive this season than in years past.)

Instead of pitting the conferences against one another, the league decided to let Steph and LeBron pick their own teams. We’ll never know exactly the order in which everyone got drafted (although we know Durant went first overall, to LeBron), but either way the teams are now set.

In case you missed ‘em, here they are:

Team LeBron

Starter: Kyrie Irving, G, Boston Celtics

Starter: Kevin Durant, F, Golden State Warriors

Starter: LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers

Starter: Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans Pelicans

Starter: DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans

Reserve: LaMarcus Aldridge, F, San Antonio Spurs

Reserve: Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards

Reserve: Kevin Love, F, Cleveland Cavaliers

Reserve: Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana Pacers

Reserve: Kristaps Porzingis, F, New York Knicks

Reserve: John Wall, G, Washington Wizards

Reserve: Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder

Team Steph

Starter: Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors

Starter: James Harden, G, Houston Rockets

Starter: DeMar DeRozan, G, Toronto Raptors

Starter: Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks

Starter: Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers

Reserve: Jimmy Butler, G, Minnesota Timberwolves

Reserve: Draymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors

Reserve: Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trail Blazers

Reserve: Kyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors

Reserve: Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors

Reserve: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Reserve: Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics

Note: DeMarcus Cousins tore his achilles last night. Ugh. The NBA is stupid. Can’t we have good things? Cousins was having the best season of his life, and was about to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his professional career. He could have signed for all the money with any number of franchises, plus the Pelicans were poised to be one of the most fun teams in the playoffs. Dammit. Dammit all. We’ll have to see who gets the injury replacement nod from the commissioner.

So, beyond that horrible news, let’s break down the matchups (even though obviously starter/reserve designations on court will be much looser than in a normal playoff series, etc).

Point Guard

Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Two of the league’s most exciting and riveting players match up once more, as the Curry vs. Irving circus continues year in and year out. Irving might have the better handle (but it’s cloooooose), while Curry most definitely has the purer shot. Being as this is an All-Star game, and it doesn’t actually matter, and being that Irving is totally wired to succeed in these types of showcases (he won the 2014 All-Star MVP), it would be easy to give the advantage to Kyrie. However, I think with the new format, Steph is going to want to protect his name, honor, and team, and could easily walk with MVP honors.

Advantage: Team Steph


Shooting Guard

Kevin Durant vs. James Harden

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Lol, Ivan totally called this when he said a.) LeBron would pick Durant first overall in the draft, probably mostly out of pettiness so Curry couldn’t get him, and, b.) LeBron would force Durant to play out of position at shooting guard for the first time since Durant’s rookie season.

It’s a glorious move from LeBron, and we can’t wait to see Durant go hard against his Warriors brethren. I’m sure there will be a hefty amount of trash talk between the four Warriors All-Stars leading up to the game itself.

James Harden, meanwhile, is a fine player, but in no way shape or form is in the same league as Durant, even if the Finals MVP is playing out of position. But, again, with Boogie’s sudden injury, Durant may easily slide over in the lineup, depending on who gets the injury replacement call, etc.

Advantage: Team LeBron


Small Forward

LeBron James vs. DeMar DeRozan

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors - Game Four Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Lol.

Advantage: Team LeBron


Power Forward

Anthony Davis vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

In the same podcast where Ivan said LeBron would pick Durant and make him play shooting guard, I also said I’d take Giannis over Anthony Davis, and moreover, thought that Giannis was a better player than Davis.

It’s a bold claim, sure, but I’m gonna stand by it, purely out of spite.

Advantage: Team Steph


Center

??? vs. Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images

So, here’s where it gets tricky. DeMarcus Cousins was (very deservedly) voted as an All-Star starter, and was picked by LeBron to pair next to Anthony Davis. The three other best centers in the All-Star game — Joel Embiid (who is starting), Karl Anthony Towns, and Al Horford — are all on Team Steph. In fact, Cousins was the only nominal “center” on LeBron’s team. I’m guessing Anthony Davis slides over and starts at the five, Paul George gets the injury replacement nod from Adam Silver, and then someone — say, LeMarcus Aldridge — slides into the starting four spot.

Either way, with Cousins out (again, F everything, this sucks), I’ve gotta give the advantage to Curry’s team.

Advantage: Team Curry


Bench/Reserves

LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, Kevin Love, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, (and probably Paul George) vs. Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Al Horford

2017 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Bruce Yeung/NBAE via Getty Images

Again, this is all going to get shuffled around. One of the players on Team LeBron will get shuffled into the starting lineup, and we still don’t totally know who Cousins’ replacement will be.

But, on first glance, who would you would you rather have on-court at the same time? Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Paul George, Kevin Love, and LaMarcus Aldridge? Or Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, and Karl-Anthony Towns? The second option would destroy the first option, right? Especially if they decided to play even a small amount of defense?

I know I’m biased because Team Steph also features the other Warriors, Klay and Draymond, but whatever, this is my (random meaningless) article about the (random, meaningless) All-Star game so I’ll go whichever way I want.

Advantage: Team Steph


Conclusion

I think Team LeBron is powerful, fast, strong, and willing, but in the end, the cohesiveness and shooting prowess of Team Steph will sway the outcome. Again, this game is purely for fun, and should distract us from our lives for a few hours at the very least. I’m guessing they set all sorts of new scoring records, and I think the new format should lend itself to a spirited, lively match.

Let’s do it. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.