All of the dust has settled on the collusion-tinged All Star Draft and Team LeBron and Team Giannis are set to square off! First things first, let’s take a look at the two teams.
Starters: Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker, Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid
Reserves: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook (via trade, hilariously), Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry, Dirk Nowitzki (legacy)
Starters: Kyrie Irving (collusion), James Harden, Kawhi Leonard (stay away!), Kevin Durant, LeBron James
Reserves: Anthony Davis (COLLUSION), Klay Thompson (lol, collusion), Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons (via trade and collusion), LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, Dwyane Wade (legacy)
Right off the bat, you might have noticed that LeBron may or may not have definitely had a specific agenda when drafting his team. Hell, he might have even said the words we all knew were percolating his heart out loud!
“Tampering rule does not apply on All Star Weekend”. Wow.
With much to dig into, let’s get the logistics out of the way.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 8 p.m.
Victor Oladipo (ruptured left quadriceps tendon - OUT), Anthony Davis (bruised left shoulder - QUESTIONABLE)
If Anthony Davis’ bruised shoulder keeps him out of the All Star game on Sunday, who should replace him?
If the fans are to be believed, it should be none other than God’s Son, Luka Dončić. Doncic put on a sly performance in the Skills Challenge on Saturday night, ultimately losing to Trae “Yes I Was Traded For You, But I Still Beat You In The Skills Challenge” Young, so you know he’s, at the very least, in town. Dončić has been the fresh breath of fresh air Dallas has had in 20+ years and he would be a beautiful addition to team LeBron should Davis not be able to play.
Other candidates to replace The Brow include his teammate Jrue “Please Trade Me When You Trade Anthony” Holiday, as well as the biggest snub of the 2019 All Star selection, Rudy Gobert. Gobert is on pace to finish as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year but not be an All Star.
Will Defense Matter?
Listen, last year’s NBA All-Star Game ended with a 147-144 score which is basically the equivalent of a double or triple overtime game in modern basketball. I say this, because, in the final two minutes of last year’s game, there was actual defense played and live footage of LeBron barking at his teammates during a defensive timeout.
Joel Embiid blocked multiple shots and Victor Oladipo had multiple steals — and these weren’t lazy, dribble off your foot blocks and steals, these were earned, smart positioning plays.
This year, both Team LeBron and Team Giannis feature at least three premiere defenders at their respective positions. Two of those guys happen to be local favourites Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. Hands up if you think Kyle Lowry is going to take a charge today.
The biggest defensive threat looms within Team Giannis’ starting lineup. If this were a meaningful game, the PG13, Giannis and Embiid front court would be one the scariest defensive lineups to share the floor. That’s a capital L with a hundred H’s in length. Instead, we might get a couple of inspired minutes at the end of the game that will ensure we are looking at a close, pride-filled, defensive finish.
Let’s give it up one final time for both Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade. In 2003, Vince Carter gave up his starting gig to Jordan because it was Jordan’s farewell year. Personally, while I think it would be a nice touch for someone to give up their spot for either or both of these legends, I think the more impactful move is subbing both guys in at the same time and let the cheers rain down.
On another personal note, I then hope that the offense is run strictly through those two dudes and they go at each other’s throats like it’s 2011.