With the NBA All-Star draft all wrapped up, the Highlander sports team decided to draft our own All-Star teams — without tampering and without free agent implications. We drafted based on who we thought would help us win a single basketball game against the other team.
Team LeJon James:
First Pick: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors point guard
Stephen Curry is the best shooter in the game and everyone but the Lakers front office knows that to win games with LeBron James you have to surround him with shooters. Curry is currently shooting 45 percent from three on a whopping 11 attempts per game which is a perfect fit next to LeBron.
Second Pick: Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward
Paul George is among the top offensive and defensive players in the league. He can score 40-plus points while making it tough for the opposing team’s top scorer which I’ll need against Jaryds’ team.
Third Pick: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers center
There’s no one in this game who can guard Embiid if we’re being real. He’s too big, too strong and he’s been showing it in the regular season. Embiid is breaking career-highs in points (27.4) and rebounds (13.5).
Fourth Pick: Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors small forward
I’m surprised Leonard lasted this late into the first round and I will gladly take him on my team. Leonard is maybe the best perimeter defender in the game, and with both him and George, my wings will wreak havoc on the opposing offense. On top of the defense Leonard will bring, he is also averaging 27 points per game.
Fifth Pick: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors shooting guard
As I mentioned earlier, the formula to winning with LeBron is surrounding him with knock down shooters. Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters the league has ever seen, even in one of his worst seasons as a pro. He’s also not too shabby on defense.
Sixth Pick: D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets point guard
D’Angelo Russell is having the best season of his young career and would be a perfect fit for a LeBron-led team. Russell has shown the ability to make plays and knock down the three point shot which are necessary qualities in a great point guard. D-Lo is averaging career-highs in points (19.8), assists (6.5), three point percentage (38 percent) and field goal percentage (43 percent). The young guard made the All-Star game for the first time this season at only 22 years old. Almost like the Lakers gave up on him too soon, right?
Seventh Pick: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers point forward
Simmons is also a first-time All-Star and his versatile skill set will be a welcomed addition to this team. Simmons is already one of the best playmakers in the league and his size and quickness make him great on the boards and in transition.
Eighth Pick: Karl Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves center
My team needs a backup big and Towns is probably the second best center of the lot after Embiid. Towns can score from the inside and out which will help spread the floor if he’s playing at the same time as Simmons.
Ninth Pick: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic center
At this point in the draft there are pretty slim pickings and I need another front court player. Vucevic has been having a career year, averaging a career-high 20 points per game on 38 percent shooting from three.
Tenth Pick: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards shooting guard
Now that I have my starting five and a back-up five made up of two backcourt and three frontcourt players, I can choose the best player available and right now that’s Bradley Beal. In John Wall’s absence, Beal is averaging career-highs nearly across the board. Beal is scoring 25 points per game while grabbing five rebounds and dishing five assists.
Eleventh Pick: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors point guard
I had the last pick of the reserves, so I got Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging a career-high 9.3 assists which is good I suppose.
Twelfth Pick: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks power forward
I chose Dirk because I wanted to even out the amount of guards and bigs I had. I definitely felt like my team could use some more size.
Team Jarydiannis Antetokounmpo:
First Pick: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors snake
Obviously we couldn’t have James draft the second best player in the world for the second consecutive year. The total wingspan and floor space that needs to be covered between Giannis and Durant is just ridiculous. Besides, in a game where no one plays defense other than the final couple of minutes, who’s really going to stop these two wings together?
Second Pick: Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics point guard
Giannis is great in transition, so is Irving. Pair the two together on a fast break and we have a match made in highlight-reel heaven. Irving has shown that he’s crafty all around, and him being able to penetrate the defense and hand it off to Giannis underneath is barbecue chicken.
Third Pick: James Harden, Houston Rockets shooting guard
Regardless if you think he always travels, flops, doesn’t play defense or only scores so many points because of questionable foul calls, Harden is a certified bucket-getter. The probable MVP-candidate is averaging 36.5 points per game. Besides, he’ll get my team that victory off of his 20 free throws alone.
Fourth Pick: Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets, point guard
It’s like having a second Kyrie without the weird earth theories and ideal retirement situation in a secluded ranch. Anyways, Kemba is going to ball out already more than he has this past season with the All-Star game being in his team’s city. Having three point guards in the starting lineup that can create their own shot off the dribble, along with being able to penetrate and dish the ball out will be a major factor in winning this game.
Fifth Pick: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans power forward
AD has a ton of energy now that the Pelicans refuse to play him in the fourth quarter, so he’ll be even more geared up for this game. Also, James’ team is at a ridiculous height disadvantage if AD, KD, and Giannis are all on the floor at the same time.
Sixth Pick: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets center
Honestly, I might mess around and put in five big men playing on the floor at once. AD, KD, Giannis, Jokic, Blake. Sheesh. The crazy thing is, Jokic is such a good passer that even with all those names on the floor at once, he’s going to be dishing out dimes like there’s no tomorrow.
Seventh Pick: Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons power forward
After getting two of his dunks rejected by Jarrett Allen in the beginning of the season, Griffin resorted to playing actually smart basketball. He now has a legit outside game, beyond-the-arc included. Despite this, I want to see some Lob City-esque dunks from him anyways.
Eighth Pick: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers point guard
You know your team’s really good when you have Lillard backing up Kyrie and Kemba. If the two latter players get a little tired of their razzle dazzle, Lillard can takeover and put on a show of his own.
Ninth Pick: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard
Take the first sentence I said for Lillard, but include Westbrook too.
Tenth Pick: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs power forward
I picked Aldridge because I need solid rebounding underneath. Plus, I now have a plethora of both guards and big men.
Eleventh Pick: Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks small forward
Honestly, the East is pretty bad if you can have a guy that averages 17.3 points per game make the All-Star team. I’m supposed to say good things about each player, right?
Twelfth Pick: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat shooting guard
I couldn’t pick anybody else, and I was cool with breaking up Wade and LeBron throwing alley-oops to each other.