This just in: the 2018 NBA All-Star game is reviving the element of competition, putting a spin on team structure and combatting injury curses left and right. With the game right around the corner and the trade deadline concluding Feb. 8, the NBA is packed with news on players all over the association.
All-Star weekend profiles the NBA’s most talented in competitions ranging from the high-octane Slam-Dunk Contest to the sharpshooting 3-point contest. This all leads up to the highly anticipated All-Star game featuring the best of both conferences. What has been most intriguing this year, however, is the new format of the game. Instead of past years, where an all East Coast Conference team would play an all West Coast Conference team, captains will decide their teams. The player from each conference with the highest votes from fans becomes captain. From the pool of All-Star starter selections and All-Star reserves, both captains will be able to draft which players they’d like on their team. This year, Lebron James is the captain of the Eastern Conference team, and Stephen Curry is captain of the Western Conference team (these team names are now arbitrary since both teams will have players from both conferences). With the teams selected, many fans of basketball favored James’ team on account of the mass height of their (would-be) starting five. However, in an interview on the subject, the two-time MVP stated, “We have a lot of shooters. I like that we are underestimated. I like to be in the role of underdog.”
The team changes aren’t the only aspect that may affect the competitiveness of gameplay. As reported by Bleacher Report, “each player on the winning team will receive $100,000 while everyone from the losing side will net $25,000.” While being paid no matter the outcome of the game, players like Klay Thompson (GSW) believe that it will definitely affect the effort that players put in, stating, “I think it will help, for sure. That’s a lot of money”.
What may be just as much of a factor in this year’s All-Star showcase is the mass of injuries that have plagued Lebron’s All-Star team. It began with his starting center, New Orleans Pelicans’ DeMarcus Cousins, going out with a season-ending Achilles rupture. Afterwards, reserves of James’ team, including John Wall (knee), Kevin Love (hand), and Kristaps Porzingis (ACL) all had to pull out for their own injuries. While all these position players have been replaced by Goran Dragic (MIA), Paul George (OKC), Andre Drummond (DET), and Kemba Walker (CHAR), all of which have made a great case for their selections, the absence of their predecessors will be felt. These changes to Lebron’s lineup may alter the mindset of basketball fans when All-Star weekend comes around.
With all the buzz around the NBA, the All-Star break will be a much needed change of pace for many of its most valuable players. Given that the injury woes of Lebron’s squad have taken away three big men, Cousins, Love, and Porzingis, Curry’s team seems much better matched up in terms of height and talent. In my opinion, the high-volume shooting of Curry’s team will reign supreme over Lebron’s sentinel offense. If you want to catch the most action packed NBA weekend of the year, be sure to catch the All-Star weekend festivities kickoff, Feb. 16-18.
Photo’s: Stephen Curry and LeBron James will captain the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively, during the 2018’s revamped NBA All-Star Game.
Stephen Curry credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
LeBron James credit: KEITH ALLISON/FLICKR