On Thursday night, LeBron James and Kevin Durant will sit down in chairs somewhere and get brought in remotely to the Inside the NBA set, where the pair will put together their teams for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. The pair of captains are going to do what has become an All-Star tradition, although this year, there is a twist: Durant will not play in the game as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.
This has made the rosters a bit wonky, and for the purposes of the following very silly exercise, it made trying to figure out how to put a team together really tough. As a result, we came to a compromise wherein I, fake Kevin Durant, get two picks in the middle of the first round. My colleague Robby, as fake LeBron, still picks first in the starter round because he was the top overall vote getter, while I will pick first among the bench players. Please enjoy.
1. LeBron James (Team LeBron)
It is me, LeBron James.
2. Steph Curry (Team LeBron)
It’s the All-Star Game, so I’ll take the best shooter in the world. This is pretty simple.
3. Luka Doncic (Team KD)
My team’s singular goal is to put on as much of a show as possible. With no Kevin Durant (who, for all his brilliance, is more of a hyper efficient killer whose style doesn’t translate as well to the All-Star Game unless he plays like he did that time he went to Rucker Park), I need to go with the most fun player available and the person whose fun would best translate to the All-Star Game. This will be Luka Doncic. Admittedly, his fun is maximized by me putting the most bonkers team around him possible, and baby, just wait until you see my bench.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Team LeBron)
I worked under the assumption that, with Embiid gone, I might be able to sneak Jokic in at the very end and take Giannis now. I was foiled in this plan. Giannis is now my center.
5. Joel Embiid (Team KD)
Embiid is a master showman, and despite the fact that there is no crowd, I feel like he’s the exact kind of player who would make it a point to have a blast at the All-Star Game, especially now that he’s in the midst of an MVP-caliber season and this is an opportunity to flex a bit.
6. Kawhi Leonard (Team LeBron)
Kawhi is the reigning All-Star Game MVP and I got him this late. What a steal.
7. Nikola Jokic (Team KD)
My team is ginormous and has two masterful passers. I do not care if Luka and Jokic on the same team is hilariously slow, we’re going for it, baby. Let’s pass the basketball.
8. Bradley Beal (Team KD)
Need someone who can go supernova. Bradley Beal is a professional supernova goer.
9. Kyrie Irving (Team LeBron)
We’re getting the band back together.
10. Jayson Tatum (Team KD)
Could use a wing! Also, his sub has bacon.
LeBron Bench: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Ben Simmons, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic, Domantas Sabonis
Now, some would think, LeBron, you don’t have much size in your starters group, surely you’ll go after size here, right? No. There are good centers to be had further down the line, so I continue to add shooting with Dame and the man I, LeBron James, called the most disrespected player in the NBA, Devin Booker. Chris Paul is sitting there and that’s my friend so of course I’m taking him. Ben Simmons is Klutch and also can give me some needed size, and then I round it all out with a bunch of big fellas at the end, all of whom can shoot because this is the All-Star Game and that’s what counts.
KD Bench: James Harden, Zion Williamson, Paul George, Zach LaVine, Jaylen Brown, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell
My entire strategy here was to maximize fun. My team will have James Harden, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Jokic tossing lobs to Zion Williamson, Paul George, Zach LaVine, and Jaylen Brown, what is more fun than that? As an added bonus, I have Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell on the same team as Joel Embiid, which is extra fun considering the recent events in Philadelphia that occurred on Wednesday night. And from a basketball perspective, this bench is loaded with dudes who can get the right kind of scorching hot for an All-Star Game, because any of Harden, George, LaVine, Brown, and Mitchell are all capable of seeing the ball go in a few times and then having fireballs shoot from their hands. If this is not the point of the All-Star Game, what is? Also, to hammer this home, ZION.
The full rosters we selected, look as such:
TEAM LEBRON: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Ben Simmons, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic, Domantas Sabonis
TEAM KD: Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum James Harden, Zion Williamson, Paul George, Zach LaVine, Jaylen Brown, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell