While we are focused on the upcoming trade deadline and already looking ahead to the NBA Draft in June to find out where Zion Williamson will be hanging from rims as well as predicting free agency, there is a more immediate draft coming up.
The NBA All-Star Game Draft.
We know, we know. It’s picking sides for a game that is growing less and less interesting every season. Your favorite player scored 30 points in the game, you say? So he was the low scorer on his team. It’s a game without defense, without effort and without allure these days.
But the draft, that at least holds some intrigue. It does at least as long as LeBron James is making picks, like he is this season, because no one drops recruiting tips and dances on the tampering line more than LeBron. So his every pick will be measured like a Valentine sent to a possible future teammate. Giannis Antetokounmpo is left to simply try to assemble a winning team for the All-Star Game to be held in Charlotte on Feb. 17.
The starters are selected first and then it’s on to the reserves and the honorary additions - Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki. So let’s set this up and see who should wind up on Team LeBron. James, by gaining the most votes, gets first pick at 7 p.m. Thursday on TNT.
LeBron: Kevin Durant
Consider this prime pick a chance to show his love to a potential Lakers addition. That means prime free agents Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard are all under consideration. He goes for the top.
Giannis: Stephen Curry
He goes MVP candidate competition rather than seeking to build a friendship with free agents.
LeBron: Kyrie Irving
Reunited and it feels so, well, predictable.
Giannis: Joel Embiid
Could he actually be a better general manager than LeBron?
LeBron: Kawhi Leonard
May as well take all of the free agents. Strength in numbers as he does the work for Magic Johnson.
Giannis: James Harden
Team Giannis surrenders shot opportunities.
LeBron: Kemba Walker
Peruses free agent charts. Oh, look, he’s a free agent, too.
Giannis: Paul George
Last kid chosen on the playground is a near-perfect all-around talent.
Giannis: Russell Westbrook
This guy isn’t a starter? Has anyone noticed that the Western Conference is pretty loaded?
LeBron: Anthony Davis
Oh, really? He has been rumored to land with the Lakers? I didn’t notice.
Giannis: Nikola Jokic
Kevin Durant may have labeled Kristaps Porzingis as the unicorn, but really, Giannis is one and this is another - a sensational passer.
LeBron: Ben Simmons
And suddenly in Philadelphia they realize they’d better start figuring out a long-term deal for a player who shares LeBron’s agent.
Giannis: Khris Middleton
At some point he has to make his own guys happy.
LeBron: Klay Thompson
Hey, did you notice there is another free agent with a Lakers connection?
Giannis: Karl-Anthony Towns
Another big man as Team Giannis goes old school.
LeBron: Nikola Vucevic
With his recruiting efforts complete LeBron notices that he might have to play center if he doesn’t make a pick.
Giannis: Damian Lillard
This draft is still going on?
LeBron: LaMarcus Aldridge
LeBron wants to play point guard, not center.
Giannis: Bradley Beal
Without John Wall, this player has emerged as a star.
LeBron: Blake Griffin
Another high flyer for Team LeBron.
Giannis: Kyle Lowry
Last chance at a pick of point guards.
LeBron: D'Angelo Russell
Last player added is the last one taken.
LeBron: Dwayne Wade
Of course it has to end this way.
Giannis: Dirk Nowitzki
Please let him get a few threes.