KUDOS to the powers at be in the NBA’s inner circle. They are trying. For years fans have been sulking about how non-competitive the annual All-Star game has been, resembling something like a layup line more than a showcase of the leagues best talent. While fans got their wish with the league opting to make some tweaks, ultimately it won’t fix the core issues around the All-Star Game.
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IF you haven’t heard the changes yet, instead of an East vs West showcase this season, conferences will be abolished and captains will instead draft two teams. The voting remains the same, with fans choosing the 10 starters and then coaches selecting the 14 reserves, but now each conference’s top vote getter obtains the right to draft his squad. That means we could see LeBron throwing lobs to Russell Westbrook, Kawhi D-ing up on Durant or Curry and Kyrie feeding each other’s hot hand.
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WITH LeBron James and Steph Curry/Kevin Durant likely to earn the nod as captains we could see some politics come into play come draft time. If KD is a captain does he select Russell Westbrook and vice versa? Would LeBron avoid Kyrie Irving like the plague? If Curry has the first pick does he take superfriend Durant or opt for someone else? Or does the potential of playing together in the future come into play? Would someone draft Paul George first overall in an effort to form more of a relationship and get buddy-buddy over the weekend?
I’LL give the league credit for creating some new storylines and excitement over the midseason classic, but it doesn’t solve the issues at the core. Sure, if a lineup of LeBron, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony were to team up, we might see them playing harder to try and get the win with their peers. At the end of the day though both rosters will be made up of 12 players from the East and 12 players from the West. The West has easily been the best conference in recent times and after the offseason moves that saw the likes of Melo, Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap and Paul George switch sides, there will still be a ton of talented players from the West that are left off the team sheets with Eastern conference guys who may not deserve the All-Star appearance able to suit up.
I’LL be the first to apologise to seasonal bridesmaids Damian Lillard and Mike Conley for their omissions because of the same system. We are facing the real possibility of seeing Western conference players dominating the top of the draft with the Eastern conference names filling the end of the roster. Players like Kemba Walker and Brad Beal seem destined to live out every child’s worst dream of being the last person picked when teams are being formed in the schoolyard.
THE NBA is halfway there, so there is hope that things will improve in coming years and don’t get me wrong this is a step in the right direction. Making teams that will be more evenly matched may make for a more competitive, closer game which could see guys play harder, but deserving players still seem destined to miss out. Should the abolish conferences when it comes to reserve voting? Should players have more of a vote? There are 101 other questions to be asked, but they are for another day.
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WHILE it will be fun to see some new names teaming up, don’t expect to see intensity, defensive prowess and competitiveness similar to the epic 2001 All-Star game. Players view the All-Star game differently in this era and it might be OK that it isn’t a 48-minute slugfest and even viewed as a waste of time by some. Just be happy that we might see LeBron dunk on Kyrie in four months time…..or vice versa.
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