By Jireh Antwi.
The Annual NBA All-Star games is being held at the L.A Staples Centre next month, the city of the historic 16x NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
This year, the All-Star weekend break will be different than previous years. Traditionally, All-stars from the East play against the All-Stars of the West and it’s been like that for a very long time. However, the reason for change is due to this format of the games producing boring and stale performances, as players made little attempt or effort to defend and the scoring line was ridiculous. The All-Star game is meant to be a showcase of the best players, but it has been getting out of hand as players were worried about not injuring themselves for their respective teams.
Even more problematic is that with the growing dominance of the stacked Western conference, it always felt like a sure win for them effectively making the final match not worth watching. To prove this, the historic MVP of last season, Russell Westbrook, hasn’t managed to get a starting role in this All-Stars, yet he plays in the Western Conference.
Luckily, with the help of Chris Paul, the President of the players association, a change was decided to even out the voting system, effectively reducing the fan vote to 50 percent and allowing a player vote and media vote of 25% each respectively. So, here’s how the new format works:
- There are 2 captains from the Eastern and Western Conference and 5 starters from each conference that are pooled together.
- The Captains can pick their players choosing first from the collective starters which finally ditches the East and West format.
This is the first time that players from different conferences will have the chance to play together and then from the reserves which will be announced today, 23rd of January, by the head coaches and the full team roster on Thursday the 25th. Hopefully this new format will allow the games to be more competitive with both teams actually trying to win.
From the West, we have: The Golden State Warriors ‘baby faced assassin’ Stephen Curry who is the Captain for the Western Conference; the ‘Slim reaper’ Kevin Durant; New Orleans Pelicans big men Anthony Davies and DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins; and MVP contender Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
And the East’s starters being: King of the league and the Eastern Conference Captain, Lebron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers; Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving; the Toronto Raptors shooting guard and all-time leading scorer DeMar DeRozan; Philadelphia 76er’s Joel Embiid; and the Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Steph v Lebron: The Stats
- Steph and Lebron are the captains this year because they led the votes overall respectively.
- James will select before Curry as he has more votes overall: 2,638,294 compared to 2,379,494
- This is Lebron’s 14th All-Star appearance tying Michael Jordan’s record and Curry’s 5th time appearance, the first Golden state warrior player to have 5 consecutive All-Star appearances.
- James is averaging 27.7 points 8.8 assists, 8 rebounds, 1.7 steals so far, even though his Cavaliers are in a mid-season slump.
- Curry is averaging 27.6 points and 6.5 assists and is leading his team to be the best record in the NBA.
Who Will They Choose?
It will be interesting to see who Lebron picks first. It would be a good chance for him to pick Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins as that could be a possible line up for him in the coming future. Or will he be picking the man he allegedly asked to be traded in, Kyrie Irving, knowing that they work well together? Either way, it should be an interesting draft that’s sure to create some headlines. Curry joked that he would pick all guards and make his team the shortest possible, and that another player he would like to draft is Giannis Antetokounmpo since he dunked on him last year so that it won’t happen again. Giannis is averaging 28.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists so far, he was also voted as the number 1 option by the players over Lebron James.
Embiid is the first sixer to play in an All-Star game since the legendary Allen Iverson in 2006, although, in the voting system it appears players liked the New York Knicks’ star player Kristaps Porziņģis more than Joel. This could be due to Embiid’s antics on the court rubbing the players the wrong way in a similar way to Draymond Green who’s known for constant trash talking. Or, it could simply be due to the fact that Embiid hasn’t played that regularly.
Unfortunately, the draft won’t be televised which is a real shame as it would have been fun to see the dynamics of the player interaction and who would be picked last. Nonetheless, these All-Star games are sure to be a good one.
Jireh is a Microbiology and Molecular Biology graduate from the Manchester Metropolitan University. He has a passion for various sports, scientific discovery and trainer brands.