The NBA is radically changing the way the All-Star Game is played this year, with captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry picking teams playground-style. What are the rules, when will it happen and how will it work? Here’s a simple FAQ to explain how this will unfold.
Q: Who gets the first pick?
A: James had the most votes among fans, so he will get the first pick. He must choose among the eight other starters who were voted into the game. Other than James and Curry, the starters are: Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. All the starters must be taken before the reserves are picked. So these eight guys will be the first picks.
Q: What about the reserves?
A: Curry gets to pick first among them and James follows, until each has picked seven. In other words, Curry will get pick No. 8 for the last starter and No. 9 for the first reserve, while James will get picks No. 7 and No. 10.
Q: Who gets the last pick?
A: Technically, James gets the final pick in the All-Star draft, but effectively, Curry will decide whom James gets at No. 22 because he will take pick No. 21, leaving James with the final player.
Q: Will James snub Irving?
A: If I were him, I’d take Durant with my first pick, but James will have his own motives. The draft will not be televised and the league will not provide the draft order. Then again, few things stay secret in the NBA. With Curry as the starting point guard for his team, it makes sense that Irving would end up on James’ team. We’ll see.
Q: Why won’t it be televised?
A: Commissioner Adam Silver said he doesn’t want to put the captains in a “compromising position” by televising it. It could create the type of drama that sometimes happens at drafts when a player is left unselected, which is of course what fans want to see!
Q: Did the players tell Silver that?
A: Silver said some players did convey that concern to him. However, James said it didn’t matter to him if his picks were televised. Other players, such as John Wall, have also advocated for the draft to be shown. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols has made it a personal mission, excoriating the league on multiple occasions for not showing the draft. But for this year, it will take place on a conference call between James, Curry and league officials. In the future, who knows?
Q: Can James and Curry make trades?
A: Officially? No. But unofficially, they certainly could privately agree to have certain players grouped together.
Q: Will the players wear uniforms that say “Team LeBron” or “Team Stephen”?
A: No, they will wear special All-Star uniforms with their team logo on them. One team will wear white, while the other team will wear black.
Q: When will all this be announced?
A: The All-Star reserves will be announced Tuesday on TNT before the Cavs play the Spurs. The teams will be announced Thursday on TNT before the Wizards play the Thunder.
Q: What happens if one of the selected All-Stars gets injured prior to the game?
A: As in previous seasons, Commissioner Adam Silver will select a replacement player from the same conference as the injured player.
Q: Why is the league doing this?
A: Last year’s All-Star Game finished 192-182, with the West beating the East. There have been complaints about the game’s competitiveness for decades, but it seemed to reach a new level last season when the game became a bit of a farce, with players barely moving on defense. Players’ union president Chris Paul and Silver sat down and developed this new plan. In addition to addressing a possible talent disparity between East and West, it also added some spice to the game and perhaps could ignite some competitiveness with teammates playing against one another. At least that’s the hope.