When people pick teams, things get messy.

By Jeremy Woo
October 03, 2017

The NBA announced big changes to its All-Star game format on Tuesday, dropping the conference-based system in favor of having two captains draft teams, then have them go head to head for charity.

Let’s start this blog with a brief-but-true statement: the NBA All-Star game is almost always a terrible game of basketball. There is no defense. (That’s a double entendre, get it?) Nobody actually likes watching it except for kids (and they’re allowed) and people who thought Vine was a revelation.

So, now that even the most rabid of you All-Star lovers out there have accepted that fact, we can also state that these changes to the game’s fabric are incredible. Why? Because the NBA is the most publicly personal and petty sports league on the planet, and almost all the interesting feuds involve the best players, and almost all the best players get to play in the All-Star game every year.

And that means possibilities. We’re going to do this very seriously here. Because the two team captains are decided by each conference’s leading vote-getter, there are only so many players that can actually earn the power to pick the teams. After studying last year’s totals so you didn’t have to, here is the breakdown.

In the Western Conference, there are several contenders: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Zaza Pachulia. (Just making sure you’re reading carefully).

In the East, we have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid. (This is because Joel Embiid might personally hijack the fan vote).

Because it’s October and hope springs eternal, here are the scenarios most worth entertaining.

Cupcakes

Only one of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant can be a captain, because they play in the same conference, so hear me out.

Scenario I: Westbrook wins the West’s fan vote, Durant is also voted in as a starter, he wins the first pick and doesn’t draft him. *Assuming* that fairness is key and this will be a snake draft, East vote-winner captain LeBron realizes that it’s way, way funnier if he passes on KD four times and sticks Russ with him anyway. Awkwardness follows.

Scenario II: Durant wins the fan vote and gets to be a captain instead. In the interest of benevolence, uses his first pick on Westbrook to try and make nice.

They do not make nice.

The One Where Everyone Reads Way Too Much Into LeBron’s Picks

It’s pretty reasonable to assume LeBron will be one of the captains. Say the other captain ends up being Durant. Let’s also say Chris Paul, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan end up as eligible players in the pool. What do they all have in common? They can be free agents next year. 

What if LeBron drafts all of them??????

Has the All-Star game replaced Team USA as a breeding ground for superstar teamups? Will all of these guys take the minimum to go play in like, Orlando? No matter what, we’ll probably end up talking about it.

Kyrie becomes a captain

Against the odds, Kyrie edges LeBron in the fan vote. Then...he doesn’t draft a single other player. He just goes one-on-five for 48 minutes, chucking shots until someone else admits the earth is flat. (Nobody admits the earth is flat). It’s like Space Jam, right?

Banana Boat United

This one is pretty simple. LeBron becomes a captain, then drafts Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul onto his team. This would work...except that Dwyane Wade is probably not making the All-Star Game. On the other hand, this could still totally happen when they all become free agents next summer.

The Hoopers Reunite

Hear me out. State Farm hijacks the vote and makes Chris Paul a captain. Damian Lillard actually makes the All-Star game. Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan get on the team, too. Kevin Garnett is retired...but the guy from State Farm in the red shirt can suit up instead (or they can have Matt Dellavedova be his stand-in). It will be the greatest moment of my life.

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