The Roar
The Roar


NBA All-Star starters mock draft

LeBron James and Kevin Durant. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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21st January, 2018

The fans, players and media have spoken and the starters for the 2018 NBA All-Star game have been chosen. This season there is a new format for the All-Star game, no longer the traditional East versus West.

It will be very much like the schoolyard; two captains will pick their teams from the pool of players selected as All-Stars. There will still be a pool of 12 players from each conference, but from here the teams will become mixed. This first year of the format, the two captains chosen are Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James from the East and, from the West, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.

The other players chosen from the East are guards Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The other West starters are James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins.

Being the highest vote-getter James will have the first pick for his team. Will he pick the players he is friends with, will he ignore former teammate Kyrie Irving, who left him in the summer, or will he pick the best player available?

The Draft will be interesting and create so much intrigue and debate, even more so when the All-Star reserves are announced. Will Curry or LeBron maybe pick their teammates over better players? Whatever happens, it will make for a fun All-Star game in 2018, which has kind of lost its appeal in recent years.

This is how the draft should go if both Curry and LeBron pick the best players available when it comes to choosing the starting line-ups for each team.

Team LeBron Pick 1: Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
LeBron should pick Durant first – he’s by far the best player available and Curry’s teammate which will create intrigue right from the get-go. Durant can score from pretty much anywhere on the court, is tall and athletic, and can get inside with ease. A former MVP, he will make for a great first pick.

Durant stats 2017/18: 26.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 6.9 RPG, 41.1 3pt%

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives past Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Team Curry Pick 2: James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Harden is probably the MVP frontrunner, leading the league in scoring and in the top five in assists. Teaming up with Curry will make for a devastating backcourt, as both have amazing vision and are deadly from outside. If this backcourt was in the NBA, it would without a doubt be the best in the league.

Harden stats 2017/18: 31.5 PPG, 9.0 APG, 4.8 RPG, 39.1 3pt%

Team LeBron Pick 3: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Davis is normally forgotten playing for the Pelicans, but is still probably the best big man in the league. A beast inside with the ability to hit the three, Davis would be in the MVP conversation on many other teams. Recent performances in January have definitely helped Davis – he’s stuffed the stat sheet and put the Pelicans up to 6th in the West.

Davis stats 2017/18: 26.5 PPG, 2.3 APG, 10.6 RPG, 2.1 BLKPG

Team Curry Pick 4: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo would be one of the most exciting players in the NBA. Tall and athletic with long arms, Giannis scores inside with ease, and at 22, the sky is the limit for him. Antetokounmpo already leads the Bucks in pretty much every statistical category and is definitely in the MVP discussion. The Greek Freak is an excitement machine, perfect for the All-Star game.

Antetokounmpo stats 2017/18: 28.2 PPG, 4.6 APG, 10.1 RPG, 54.1 FG%


Team LeBron Pick 5: Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
Most believe Irving would be the last player LeBron would pick but with all his frontcourt spots full, Irving is available so he’ll have to pick him. Irving is leading the Celtics with the best record in the East, can shoot from the outside, and has the best handles in the NBA, so can get into the lane with ease and finish with either hand. We all know Kyrie is capable of putting on a show in the All-Star game.

Irving stats 2017/18: 24.1 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.6 RPG, 39 3pt%

Team Curry Pick 6: DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans)
A teammate and fellow big man of Anthony Davis, Cousins is one of the most skilful big men in the game. He can score down low in the post and can get his shot off from the outside and knock down the three. Cousins is also a very good passing big man who can find open teammates.

Cousins stats 2017/18: 25.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 12.6 RPG, 1.6 BLKPG

Team LeBron Pick 7: DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
DeRozan has led the Raptors to the 2nd seed in the East. Has one of the best mid-range games in the league which is becoming a lost art. He also has the ability to get up and put guys on posters, dunking over some of the game’s best defenders. DeRozan would be a great final pick to complete Team LeBron’s starting lineup.

DeRozan stats 2017/18: 25.0 PPG, 5.0 APG, 4.2 RPG, 47.9 FG%

DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors during a game against the Washington Wizards on November 2, 2016 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

(Image: Keith Allison CC BY-SA 2.0)


Team Curry Pick 8: Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
The only starter this season that is also a first-time All-Star. Injuries have hampered Embiid’s career so far but his ability cannot be questioned. A skilful big man with amazing post moves so early in his career, Embiid has been compared to some of the greats of the game already, notably Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s pretty much impossible to stop in the post, and hopefully this is the first of many All-Star games for Embiid.

Embiid Stats 2017/18: 24.0 PPG, 3.4 APG, 10.9 RPG, 1.9 BLKPG

So at the end of the Draft, I can’t split the teams. Both are very balanced and it makes for a very interesting All-Star game, especially after all the reserves are picked and split between the two teams.

Right now it reads:

Team LeBron: Frontcourt of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis, and a backcourt of Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan.

Team Curry: Frontcourt of DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and a backcourt of Stephen Curry and James Harden.

The final rosters for both teams will be broadcast on a special one-hour edition of TNT’s NBA Tip-Off on Thursday, January 25th (this Friday Australian time).