SALT LAKE CITY — Because we don’t want any millionaire NBA All-Stars with hurt feelings…
The NBA has tweaked the draft format for the All-Star Game this year, with captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picking the All-Stars on the court about 30 minutes before the actual game tips-off. The idea was to make it a little more playground-style.
But to avoid any hurt feeling about being the last pick, the captains will choose the reserves first and then the starters, it has leaked out before the game (most notably, Ernie Johnson said it on Inside the NBA on TNT). So, technically, the last player picked will be one of the starters.
Here are a few thoughts on this:
• Everyone is going to know who the last reserve player is anyway, they will still be the last person picked in the mind of fans.
• Why is the NBA fixing something that wasn’t a problem? In the 2019 draft, the last player picked was Bradley Beal, it didn’t exactly bruise his ego. Domantas Sabonis was the last pick in 2020, in 2021 it was Rudy Gobert (this was the only year there was much talk about it, but it was more about Gobert not being all that popular among players, not about his skills). Last season was the hysterical moment when Kevin Durant refused to pick James Harden — who had just forced his way off Durant’s Nets — and LeBron kept him on the board trying to force KD to take him, so Harden was the last player picked.
• Usually you would pick the reserves who complement the starters (who, presumably, would get a few more minutes). Now that is upended, with LeBron and Giannis having to choose starters that fit best with the reserves.
• I guess we’re doing this. Drafting the players 30 minutes before the game should be interesting.