We’re going through changes
The 2018 NBA All-Star Game will have a significantly different setup from previous years in a desperate attempt to make the game more competitive after last years’ debouchures defense from both teams allowed a final score of 192-182. The main difference will see the most voted player from each conference playing playground captain. The captain will choose their team from the player pool of voted in players from both conferences. Once completed off camera, the results will be televised with the coaches picking the reserves.
The actual voting process, like last year will give fans the access to vote only through NBA.com and the NBA app from December 21 until Christmas when the voting opens to alternate formats. This year even allows voters to vote through Amazon’s “Alexa”.
Each conference and each position will show last years’ starters and who I predict, from the voting, will be available for the captains to choose as their starters. The captains will choose regardless of conference so it may look different come February, but hopefully this will give an insight to who the big names will be.
2017 1st Guard – Kyrie Irving
2018 1st Guard Prediction – Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving lead the voting for the guard position in the Eastern conference last year and it is difficult to predict anything other than a repeat. After a move from the shadow of LeBron James, Irving is leading the Boston Celtics to a conference best record and putting up great numbers along the way. With Gordon Hayward sidelined, Irving has swallowed up the spotlight and turned it into wins. His profile is bigger than ever, proving to a flat world he can lead a team to victories even if the Celtics schedule so far hasn’t been the most difficult.
Though he was the highest voted backcourt player in the Eastern Conference, his chances of becoming the captain and consequently choosing his team are weak due to the fact that the shadow he left is encompassed by a bigger personality and the highest voted player in the league, LeBron James.
2017 2nd Guard – DeMar DeRozan
2018 2nd Guard Prediction – DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan is the best player on the second seed in the Eastern Conference as things stand. After last years’ call up to the starting lineup, his game has improved again this year. He has added assists and the odd three-pointer to his already deadly array of offensive weapons. With the Toronto Raptors playing great basketball at the moment, it is difficult to see him losing that position. Whereas some players may have a state backing them, DeRozan is in the unique position of having an entire country behind him and voting him in.
On the day the voting opened, DeRozan notched a career high 45 points against the 76ers in a game where the Raptors came back from a 20+ point deficit to win the game. It seems like DeRozan means business!
2017 1st Frontcourt – LeBron James
2018 1st Frontcourt Prediction – LeBron James
The Eastern Conference’s most voted player and arguably still the greatest basketball player on the planet is a lock to be at least a starter in the All-Star Game and probably a captain. Somehow, in his 15th season, James is playing some of the best basketball of his career. With so many chips on his shoulder it looks like the ghost of Michaelangelo is crafting another masterpiece. With Kyrie Irving gone, Isaiah Thomas injured, beef with Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, James is fired up to say the least. His numbers, considering his age, are borderline unbelievable.
If James becomes the first Captain from the Eastern conference, it will be fascinating to see if he selects ex-teammate Kyrie Irving. Maybe he will snub his former teammate and still win!
2017 2nd Frontcourt – Giannis Antetokounmpo
2018 2nd Frontcourt Prediction – Giannis Antetokounmpo
“The Greek Freak” made his first NBA All-Star appearance last year, instantly becoming a starter and wowing people against the league’s best. As another player attempting to take his game to the next level, it is difficult to see him losing his place. His points per game and rebounds are an improvement on last year once again with his scoring output putting him second in the league behind James Harden.
Last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo was the only international player to be selected to the starters position. Will he keep this accolade again?
2017 3rd Frontcourt – Jimmy Butler
2018 3rd Frontcourt – Kristaps Porzingis
If you were to ask the average NBA fan in New York what the capital of Latvia is, you may struggle to get an answer. However, ask them about Kristaps Porzingis, AKA the Unicorn, and you will be met with excitement and expectation. After famously being booed on draft night, Porzingis has gone from strength to strength, leading the currently playoff bound New York Knicks in points and blocks. He has taken his game to the next level, particularly as a leader, and I’m predicting he will not only make his first All-Star Game, but make it as the fifth starter.
The talent of Porzingis has reinvigorated basketball in New York as the Knicks have gone from the fifth highest attendance to the top seed as things stand. If the Knicks make the playoffs this year as they are projected to do, it will be the first time in four years.
2017 1st Guard – Stephen Curry
2018 1st Backcourt Prediction – Stephen Curry
Since the arrival of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, Steph-mania has quietened down but Curry is still one of best and most popular players in the league holding the number one spot for jerseys sold. His numbers have dropped slightly with Durant leading the team in scoring but his reputation is still up there with the best and I do not see him missing out on a starting spot.
Curry is struggling with a strained right ankle at the moment and is expected to miss the Christmas day matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is also the day when the All-Star voting opens its doors to other platforms. Hopefully, this will not affect his stock too much.
2017 2nd Guard – James Harden
2018 2nd Guard Prediction – James Harden
The beard played out of his skin last year. Moving to the point guard position, his numbers were out of this world resulting in a direct head-to-head battle for MVP with eventual winner, Russell Westbrook. However, he exhausted himself out in the playoffs and the Rockets crashed out in six games against the San Antonio Spurs. This year, Harden has Chris Paul to see him through the hard times and together they are leading the Rockets to a league best win percentage. Harden is playing great basketball and with the Rockets winning, it is very difficult to see Harden loosing his place, even with some stiff competition behind him.
There was a lot of concern around Chris Paul and James Harden playing together but the two have put their egos to the side to make it work. Reports suggest that Chris Paul has wanted to play with another playmaker for years and Harden seems to be the teammate he hass been looking for.
2017 1st Frontcourt – Kevin Durant
2018 1st Frontcourt Prediction – Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant led the Western Conference voting last year. He is still the best player on the best team and without injury or public perception collapse, it is a fair assumption to assume Durant will join captaincy alongside his NBA finals positional rival, LeBron James. Will he choose his Warriors teammates to join him or will he go rogue and select ex-teammate and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook? However unlikely the latter may be, it is that type of speculation that makes this format so exciting.
Durant’s temper this season on the court is uncharacteristic of him. For an in-depth analysis and a shameful plug of Durant this season, click here.
2017 2nd Frontcourt – Kawhi Leonard
2018 2nd Frontcourt Prediction – Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard has only played four games this year but is back in action. It seems as if his return to stardom may take time as he is averaging only 10.5 points per game this season. However, we know from previous experience that Kawhi Leonard is a basketball star and with him coming back just as the voting begins, his return to form will be well covered by the media. The San Antonio Spurs have been impressive without him and his return will surely help them become that bit better.
All-Star fan voting is fascinating concoction of player profile, skill and team value. Though Kawhi Leonard has played minimal games so far this year, we know he is one of the best and that his team is always up there competing. Is that enough to put him in a starting position?
2017 3rd Frontcourt – Anthony Davis
2018 3rd Frontcourt Prediction – DeMarcus Cousins
Anthony Davis was recently joined by fellow superstar DeMarcus Cousins in New Orleans as they seek to make a run in the playoffs. Davis made the All-Star starters last year, but this year, I predict we will see DeMarcus Cousins make a splash. The Pelicans are floating around .500, flirting with the eight seed with Cousins leading the team in scoring, rebounds, and putting up better number than teammate Davis. Both players are extremely talented and both are expected to make the All-Star Game.
The Pelicans have two talented big men, something that no other team can compete with in the frontcourt, but Davis and Cousins’s chemistry just is not turning into wins at the moment. In the MVP race, a player’s teams ranking matters but in the All-Star Game maybe not so much. Who is the better choice, Cousins or Davis?
The new changes will be scrutinized under the L.A. lights in February. The success of the new format will send ripples to future potential changes; particularly those that involve inter-conference matchups.
Unfortunately, the actual choosing of the teams will not be televised. However, if the new format is successful, televising the moment when a multi-million dollar NBA superstar gets picked last is surely TV royalty!
The above are my predictions of who will make the All-Star game in Los Angeles. Disagree? Comment below!
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