The NBA, Thursday night, announced the captains and eight starters for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, billed to take place on February 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been two of the best players in the league this season and will be representing the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference, respectively, in the NBA All-Star Game as captains.
Team Lebron vs Team Giannis 3.0
Ever since the league moved to the captains' picks format back in 2018, only four players have had the honor: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. James has done so all six years, while Antetokounmpo has done it three, making Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis the most common matchup we've seen.
The last time these two were captains was in 2020, which is the year the league debuted the use of the Elam Ending format, where teams play to a final score in the fourth quarter instead of using a clock. Team LeBron won on a pair of walk-off free throws by Anthony Davis that time around; hopefully, this year's contest is just as exciting.
For James, this is his 19th All-Star Game appearance, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most All-Star appearances in league history. Ironically enough, the Los Angeles Lakers star is trending towards passing Kareem on the NBA’s all-time scoring list within the next couple of weeks
Joining James as the All-Star starters from the Western Conference are Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets).
Both Curry and Doncic were highly anticipated to be the starting guards from the West and Jokic, the league’s reigning back-to-back MVP, was pegged in one of the other two frontcourt spots alongside James for quite some time.
Seeing Zion Williamson get the All-Star Game starter spot over the likes of Sacramento Kings big man Domantas Sabonis is a little surprising, but when he is healthy, Zion is undoubtedly one of the best and most efficient players in the entire league.
In the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokounmpo is joined by Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets) and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics).
There was a lot of discussion about who would get the three frontcourt spots between Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid over the last few weeks.
Ultimately, Durant and Tatum got the edge over Embiid, leaving many to question how the voting process should work since there are two starters spots for guards and three for frontcourt players without one being reserved for a true center.
New Selection Format Debuts on D-Day
James and Antetokounmpo will select their reserve teams 30 minutes before tip-off in a new All-Star draft format.
Full details on how it will work aren’t available from the NBA yet, but it could be a playground-style draft, with all of the All-Stars on the court waiting for their names to be called, like when you would pick teams at recess in elementary school.