The Roar
The Roar


Will the new format actually improve the NBA All-Star game?

LeBron James and Kevin Durant. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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31st January, 2018

For the past four to five seasons, the NBA All-Star game has become a gimmick, turning into what is pretty much a layup and dunk line with three-point shooting practice and little to no defence on show.

The so-called showcase event of All-Star weekend was losing its touch and something needed to be done to revive it and make the game more exciting. So for the 2017/18 season, the NBA introduced a new format for the All-Star game.

It’s similar in that 12 All-Stars are picked from each conference. The starters were chosen by the fans, media and the players and the reserves selected by NBA coaches. At the end of the voting period, the five starters are chosen from each conference and from here the player with the most votes from each conference (in this year’s case, LeBron James from the East and Steph Curry from the West) become team captains.

Now here’s where it gets interesting and turns into a bit of a schoolyard, where the two captains get to pick the two All-Star teams, with the highest vote-getter (in this year’s case, LeBron) going first.

After both have taken turns picking their starting lineups, they then go on to pick from the fourteen reserves. This time, the other captain will have the first pick and from here you will have two All-Star teams with players mixed around from different conferences playing with other players, often for the first time.

At the end of the draft, both squads ended up being as follows:

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins.
Reserves: Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Victor Oladipo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.
DeMarcus Cousins will be out for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury and has been replaced by Paul George. The starting spot hasn’t been filled yet. Kevin Love has broken his hand and will miss the All-Star game, but a reserve is yet to be named.


Team Stephen

Starters: Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid.
Reserves: Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard and Al Horford.

Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks in the NBA

DeMar DeRozan and Giannis Antetokounmpo. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

On paper, LeBron literally looks to have the stronger team with so many big men. His team also has bigger names and more star power than Curry’s team. Team LeBron has 64 combined All-Star appearances compared to Team Stephen, which only has 42.

But Steph has the way better three-point shooting team, with the likes of Curry and Harden and guys like Thompson, Lillard and Lowry coming off the bench. These five players are all in the top ten this season for three-pointers made, with Harden, Thompson and Curry coming in at first, second and third respectively.

Now that the teams are made, will it actually improve the All-Star Game at all? The past three have been very high-scoring affairs, with the scores being 192-182 in 2017, 196-173 in 2016 and 163-158 in 2015 with the West triumphing every time. It has been following the league trend and just becoming a three-point show, with the sheer number of three-point attempts becoming ridiculous.

In 2017 a combined 122 three-pointers were taken and this is actually lower than the two years prior, with 139 in 2016 and 133 in 2015. Compare this to 2005, LeBron’s first All-Star appearance, where it was still high-scoring, but in that game only a combined 46 three-pointers were taken. In the past three years, not one team has shot fewer 59 three-pointers alone, which shows how much the game is changing.


The league is evolving and the three-point shot is becoming far more important than ever before, because of the likes of Curry, Harden, Thompson, and others. Yes, in an All-Star Game you would expect a lot of threes to be taken. But when you’re getting up to 120-130 of them, that’s getting a bit out of hand. For an All-Star Game, 70-80 would make it easier to watch.

I acknowledge that is hard for players to normally get hyped for an All-Star Game since there is nothing really to play for. It’s just mucking around, dunking and shooting, while having some fun and playing no defence. But hopefully, this new format with different player combinations will make the game more fun and exciting.

For example, Kyrie having the chance to lob to Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant is an exciting concept. Or, on Team Stephen, imagine Curry, Thompson and Harden all set up outside the three-point line ready to bury the shot.

Klay Thompson dribbles past Russell Westbrook

Klay Thompson and Russell Westbrook. (Photo: AP)

With the NBA deciding not to televise the All-Star draft, they failed to cash in on an opportunity to make the game more competitive. Players would be able to see who was picked first, picked last, and who was picked ahead of them. They would be able to see how they are rated by their peers and watch storylines play out.

For example, did Curry draft strategically, forcing LeBron to pick Kyrie, or did LeBron pick him by choice? Did Steph pick his Warriors teammates over better players? Did LeBron pick Kevin Love over other players? All these questions could have been answered if the draft was televised.

If players watched the draft and saw how things played out it could get the competitive juices flowing and force them to go into the game with an agenda and a point to prove, making it more competitive.


We’ve already seen an example of this being true. After the All-Star teams were released, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook saw the lists with his name at the bottom, thinking he was the last player picked. That night against the Wizards, he went out and dropped 46 points in a Thunder win. Then, after the game, Westbrook found out the lists were in alphabetical order.

I will be watching this year’s All-Star Game with much more interest than in previous years due to the new format. Hopefully, the game becomes more exciting and competitive.

But televising the draft would add another element to the game. Players will go out with an agenda and a point to prove, depending on where they were picked and what team they’re on. Hopefully, this year’s game is a much bigger improvement on those of years gone by.