It sounds so good on paper: let’s take the very best players in the NBA and have them play a pickup game. The only problem is that the players simply do not care about the outcome. The resultant malaise that plagues the All-Star game has slowly increased once the hyper competitive guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant ceased to be a factor.
To their credit, the NBA is trying.
They’ve completely remastered the team-building process, and (perhaps more importantly) also ramped up the individual player rewards - $100 grand to each player on the winning team. Will it change anything?
I’m cautiously optimistic.
The objectively more likable of the two teams, the roster helmed by the Warriors' own Stephen Curry is built to embrace the run-and-gun insanity of the All-Star game. Coming into this one, the West has won the previous three iterations of the headline event at NBA All-Star weekend. Last year the winning team had 192 points, the year before that it was 196 — so don’t expect any defense.
And yet, for some reason, Team LeBron is heading into the game as a three-point favorite?
Let’s take a look at the roster and I’ll make a case for why it’s going to be Team Steph all the way. Note this is the original roster, Team LeBron has changed a bit due to injuries, but the only starter lost was Demarcus Cousins:
Curry stated that he picked a team of shooters and ball handlers, knowing that All-Star coach Mike D’Antoni will be more than happy to facilitate maximum offense. In all likelihood both sides are going to be running free, so put me with the team that features Curry, James Harden, and Demar Derozan to light up the scoreboards quickly.
Everyone’s going to be shooting a ton of wide open looks, so I’m counting on team Steph going nuts with the three ball.
“LeGM” as he is informally known around Cleveland Cavaliers headquarters, finally got to try his hands at roster building, and he picked a good one. The five players active in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game who have won the NBA MVP are all on Team LeBron: Davis (2017), Durant (2012), Irving (2014), James (2006, 2008) and Westbrook (2015, 2016).
Unfortunately, because it is the 2017-18 NBA season, Team LeBron was hit by a pretty significant string of injuries: DeMarcus Cousins (ruptured Achilles tendon), John Wall (knee surgery), Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) and Kevin Love (broken hand) all were forced to the sidelines.
There’s still more than enough talent to win, and looking at the MVP pedirgee of his roster, it’s not hard to see why this team is a three-point favorite heading into the game.
Will you be watching
As much as we all whine about how boring the All-Star weekend is, I’m sure I’m not the only person that went from grumbling about not caring, to watching the entire production last night.
I don’t know... I feel like maybe there is a little bit more drama associated with tonight’s main event. I actually have a rooting interest and I think that players from both sides legitimately have an interest in winning this game. For the first time in a long time, could this be a hard fought game?
Well, okay, probably not - but I appreciate the NBA fiddling with the format to try and add some intrigue.