On Tuesday afternoon, the NBA finally decided to make the All-Star Game competitive again by taking it to the playground.
When the 67th All-Star Game takes place in Los Angeles next year, it will be the first time the game won’t feature the usual East vs. West format. The two leading vote-getters from each conference will be named captains, allowing them to pick which players, from any conference, will get to be on their teams.
This thing just got interesting.
“I’m thrilled with what the players and the league have done to improve the All-Star Game, which has been a priority for all of us,” said NBPA President Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets. “We’re looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in L.A.”
“We’re excited about the new All-Star format and appreciate the players’ willingness to try something new,” said NBA President of League Operations Byron Spruell.
According to the league, the process for selecting the all-stars won’t change, and there will still be 12 players from each conference represented. The starters will still be chosen by a combination of fans, players, and the media. Coaches will still select the reserves.
The possibilities are endless. So here are the best five possible matchups we could see on the floor at the Staples Center in February.
Team Banana Boat Plus-One vs Golden State
We could finally see “The Brotherhood” all together on one team. Don’t be surprised if LeBron James, who was last year’s leading vote-getter in the East, tries to get his best friends on his team. A squad with James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade would be fun to watch.
But who would be their fifth?
I say Kyrie Irving.
I’d love to see Irving and James play together one more time. Besides, Team Banana Boat is old, and they’ll need a young point guard.
Golden State could have their core four of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson all make the all-star game this season. But, their fifth man could actually be their “actual fifth man.” ZaZa Pachulia has almost been voted a starter the last two seasons because his home country of Georgia has voted in droves. And if Pachulia is ever going to make it because of a technicality, this could be the year.
Everybody in the West the Warriors have beaten vs. The Warriors
The Warriors have had their way with the Western conference the last three seasons, which is why OKC, San Antonio, Minnesota, and Houston all made major offseason moves to try to knock them off.
It would be fun to see a team of guys that have lost to the Warriors in the playoffs team up and try to get some payback. So how about a group featuring James Harden (Houston), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), and Marc Gasol (Memphis).
Team Nike vs. All the other shoe companies
Shoe companies and endorsement deals are a big deal. If you don’t believe me, ask Rick Pitino and Louisville?
Was that too soon?
But anyway, let’s take a look at how these lineups might look on the court. Team Nike would feature James, Irving, Durant, Paul George, and Green. While their opponents would be a conglomeration of four different shoe companies, featuring Harden (Adidas), Curry (Under Armour), Wade (Li-Ning), Thompson (Anta), and Damian Lillard (Adidas).
Team One & Done vs. Team “I stayed in college for a few years”
The NBA All-Star game is always a great mixture of high school phenoms, college legends, and late bloomers. This matchup would have some of the best one-time college freshmen faceoff against some of the guys who decided to stick around campus a little longer.
Team One & Done would feature John Wall, Anthony, Durant, Irving, and Davis. While the college vets would run out Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Leonard, Curry, and Green.
Team “I wasn’t born in America/don’t play for an American team” vs. Team MAGA a.k.a. (Guys born in the Midwest or the South)
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) would lead this diverse team of foreign players, along with Gasol (Spain) and Irving, who was born in Australia. Throw in DeRozan and Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors, and you have a nice mix of international talent.
Team MAGA would feature James, Green, and Hayward that would represent the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana natives. Former Kentucky teammates Cousins and Wall would team up again and represent the South as Alabama and North Carolina natives.