2019 NBA All-Star Game mock draft
Adrian Dy on Feb 06, 2019 03:07 PM
FILE - LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18: LeBron James #23 of Team LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of Team Stephen hug before the NBA All-Star Game as a part of 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend at STAPLES Center on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
As good as the 2018 All-Star Game was, the NBA decided to make the roster build-up even better for the 2019 edition.
Taking note of the overwhelming demand from last year, the Association will be broadcasting the All-Star Game Draft between LA Lakers star LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks standout Giannis Antetokounmpo, ahead of their match-up later in February in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Like last year, the two captains based on fan votes, James and Giannis (with James getting first pick due to having more fan votes) will alternate picks in round one, the starters, followed by round two, the reserves. And oh yes, there’s also a special round three this year for the legends Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki. How cool is that?
So with the guidelines out of the way, Favian Pua will be channeling the thought process of “The King” while taking on the role of “The Greek Freak” will be myself. Now, let’s draft!
ROUND ONE - STARTERS
Team LeBron (1) - F - Kevin Durant (GSW)
The two-time reigning Finals MVP and four-time scoring champion is the optimal running mate for James. The pairing makes sense, as they double-teamed Stephen Curry on the final possession of last year’s All-Star Game to secure the 148-145 victory for Team LeBron.
Team Giannis (1) - G - Stephen Curry (GSW)
We actually did the draft a few days back, prior to Giannis discussing his draft strategy with reporters. Coincidentally though, I also had him selecting Curry, so yay for me! Now, Giannis is picking Steph as a sort of thank you for #30 going with him first overall last year. But as for me, I just like the idea of the Bucks star carving out a ton of space for the league's deadliest shooter, before dishing him the ball.
Team LeBron (2) - G - James Harden (HOU)
What else must Harden do to leapfrog Durant and Curry? Had the voting system not been revamped two years ago, it would have been Luka Doncic starting in his place. That would have been preposterous considering that Harden is in the midst of an offensive tear unheard of since the pinnacle of Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring barrage.
Team Giannis (2) - F - Joel Embiid (PHI)
Giannis also disclosed that he wanted to go young in the draft and the player with the fewest prior selections in the starters pool happens to be Embiid. Now, you can be sure Embiid is going to drop a big double-double, but he's also going to trash-talk everyone on the opposing side. Truly, the 76ers center is why "Mic-ed Up" segments were invented.
Team LeBron (3) - F - Kawhi Leonard (TOR)
Leonard is back and better than ever, setting career highs in scoring (27.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg). He is the linchpin that has catapulted the Toronto Raptors into the championship hunt, a statement that carries much more heft now, compared to last season.
Team Giannis (3) - F - Paul George (OKC)
So far, Team LeBron has James of course, Durant, and now Leonard, a trio of long-limbed athletic freaks who can lock anyone down when push comes to shove. We need someone of our own who can do that (aside from Giannis, obviously) and so we're going with Paul George here. Plus, the hot streak he's been on this entire season will make him a great fit.
Team LeBron (4) - G - Kyrie Irving (BOS)
Irving has dealt with an assortment of injuries, locker room turmoil and free agency talk. But lost in all that is his increased efficiency, as he’s shooting above 50% for the first time in his eight-year career. After shouting out James in a recent post-game interview, another go-round on Team LeBron will contribute to the healing process between the two.
Team Giannis (4) - G - Kemba Walker (CHA)
There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting the "last" pick of the starters. More so when that guy happens to be the hometown hero, Kemba Walker. Lord knows he's going to be fired up to put on a show for his fans, so snagging him, essentially by default, is a terrific development for Team Giannis.
ROUND TWO - RESERVES
Team Giannis (1) - F - Anthony Davis (NOP)
Taking Davis #1 from the reserves accomplishes several things. First and foremost, fewer opportunities to chat with LeBron James, who desperately wants him to become a Laker! Second, reports say that Davis wouldn't mind signing an extension if he somehow lands in Milwaukee. Well what a coincidence, Team Giannis has the Bucks' marquee star and his head coach! While the odds of a trade are still slim, he might as well get a shot to see how fun it is to play Budenholzer ball alongside the Greek Freak.
Team LeBron (1) - G - Russell Westbrook (OKC)
To give you an idea of how top-heavy the All-Star rosters are, Westbrook, who is in the midst of averaging a third consecutive triple-double this season, will be coming off the bench once again. The silver lining of this predicament is that with Durant, Harden, and Westbrook on the same team, we will get another trip down the alternate reality of what the Oklahoma City Thunder could have been.
Team Giannis (2) - F - Khris Middleton (MIL)
This is Giannis taking care of his own guys. What a great teammate!
Team LeBron (2) - F - Nikola Jokic (DEN)
Jokic has spearheaded the Denver Nuggets to the top of the Western Conference even while nursing a depleted backcourt. Under Nuggets and Team LeBron Coach Mike Malone’s free-wheeling offense, the first-time All-Star has already amassed nine triple-doubles this season and boasts of a stellar 2.46 assist-to-turnover ratio despite his 27.6% usage rate.
Team Giannis (3) - G - Ben Simmons (PHI)
The youth movement continues with Simmons, a first-time All-Star. Not only should he shine in the up-tempo, defense (usually) optional All-Star Game format, there'll be instant chemistry too, pairing him with Embiid. And who knows? With Budenholzer as the coach, maybe he gets the reluctant shooter to heave up a couple of three's?
Team LeBron (3) - F - Blake Griffin (DET)
Back in his first All-Star Game since 2015, Griffin no longer generates posters on a nightly basis, although he will stun half-hearted defenders, such as this one on Joel Embiid. Thanks to an extended range, Griffin has upped his scoring (26 ppg) and three’s made (2.4) to career-bests, while he also serves as the Detroit Pistons’ assist leader (5.3 apg).
Team Giannis (4) - G - Klay Thompson (GSW)
Back in the starters round of this draft, Team LeBron assembled a coterie of defensive stoppers. Well, I got to pick one up now in the fourth round of the reserves round, which I believe is called "value." Plus, Klay will be teaming up with fellow Splash Brother Curry, and if he happens to go nova, Steph, Simmons, and Giannis will all make sure he gets the rock.
Team LeBron (4) - G - Bradley Beal (WAS)
With John Wall out for the remainder of the season, an increased workload has not fazed Beal, as the increased opportunities allowed him to notch the first two triple-doubles of his seven-year career. Beal went 4-of-8 from downtown with Team LeBron last year, so he should provide a significant scoring punch off the bench in a role reprisal.
Team Giannis (5) - F - Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)
It wasn't too long ago that NBA GMs wanted to start teams with Towns instead of Davis, per pre-season surveys. Well, to quote the internet, "why not both?" Getting a unicorn in KAT this late is a great pick-up, and with no Jimmy Butler in sight, you can expect this Timberwolf to go out and strut his stuff (and possibly get some inside tsimis on his former teammate courtesy of Embiid and Simmons).
Team LeBron (5) - G - Damian Lillard (POR)
Lillard is one of only three players averaging at least 26 points (26.4 ppg), four rebounds (4.6 rpg), and six assists (6.3 apg), this season (the other two are James and Harden). For what it’s worth, Lillard is participating in the Three-Point Contest the night before, so that should grease the wheels for a barrage of three’s raining down in Charlotte.
Team Giannis (6) - G - D’Angelo Russell (BKN)
Shouldn't we all want someone with ice in his veins? Russell's resume may be slim compared to the majority of the names in this draft, but the Nets floor general has never let that stop or scare him. What an ending it would be if, late in a tight game, with all the other superstars checking each other, it comes down to Russell for the game-winner. Then the entire Team Giannis can tap their wrists at the same time.
Team LeBron (6) - F - LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)
LaMarcus Aldridge has been the San Antonio Spurs’ constant in a season of transition and turbulence. He has shown no signs of decline in Year 13 and remains entrenched in the Spurs’ immediate future. His elite face-up and back-to-the-basket game proves that the reports on the midrange game’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Team Giannis (7) - F - Nikola Vucevic (ORL)
Throughout this draft, Team Giannis has been snagging ball-handlers, gunners, and unicorns, and while Vooch is rarely mentioned in the latter category, that's essentially what he's been for the Magic this season. No longer just a back-to-the-basket guy, Vucevic can put up plenty of stats, while flashing a killer inside-out game. If he can tap into his inner Brook Lopez, look out!
Team LeBron (7) - G - Kyle Lowry (TOR)
At 32, Lowry has turned the corner and elevated himself to among the league’s elite facilitators, ranking second in assists (9.2 apg) alongside a career-best 3.26 assist-to-turnover ratio. Despite missing 12 games to back injuries, slumping from long range, and averaging his lowest scoring output since the 2012-2013 season, his reinvention into a passing savant merits a second representative from the Raptors.
ROUND THREE - SPECIAL ROUND
Team LeBron (1) - G - Dwyane Wade (MIA)
We already brought back James and Irving, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Big Three, as well as Lillard and Aldridge. Drafting Wade for one last dance with James only makes sense. Enjoy the reunions.
Team Giannis (1) - F - Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)
Based on the narrowest interpretation of "the next Dirk" aka the next European star of the Mavericks, it would have to be a toss-up between Luka Doncic and newcomer Kristaps Porzingis. However, if you open up your thinking to the level of "the next best European prospect, period," you would have to concede that right now, that guy is Giannis. In other words, this here is your passing of the torch, and it's going to look awesome.
Starters: LeBron James / Kevin Durant / James Harden / Kawhi Leonard / Kyrie Irving
Reserves: Russell Westbrook / Nikola Jokic / Blake Griffin / Bradley Beal / Damian Lillard / LaMarcus Aldridge / Kyle Lowry / Dwyane Wade
Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo / Stephen Curry / Joel Embiid / Paul George / Kemba Walker
Reserves: Anthony Davis / Khris Middleton / Ben Simmons / Klay Thompson/ Karl-Anthony Towns / D'Angelo Russell / Nikola Vucevic / Dirk Nowitzki
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