Team LeBron vs Team Stephen: Lineups, preview & prediction 2/18/18

The NBA has shaken things up for Sunday’s 67th All-Star Game in Los Angeles, with the stars split up on teams drafted by LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

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As opposed to the traditional East-West format, the league took a page from the NHL and changed the format to a pick-up style in which the league’s two best players, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, could pick their teammates. 

While Curry took some flak for deciding against having the draft televised, with he and James selecting players via conference call, both players wound up with impressive rosters of the league’s best players who are no longer constrained by suiting up for a conference. 

One of the random sub-plots that emerged in the interim from when the draft took place until tip-off is that Team LeBron was hit by a wave of injuries that robbed him of starter and New Orleans forward DeMarcus Cousins as well as reserves Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks), John Wall (Washington Wizards) and Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kevin Love.

While it has yet to be announced who will replace Cousins in the starting lineup, James will be re-united with point guard Kyrie Irving, and the other two definite starters are Curry’s teammate Kevin Durant and Cousins’ frontcourt mate Anthony Davis.

The injured quartet for Team LeBron has been replaced by Goran Dragic (Miami Heat), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) and Paul George (Oklahoma City). How this affects Team LeBron is uncertain, but Walker is pretty much a straight-up swap for Wall and Drummond fills most of the interior presence of Love, while Dragic and George will pick up the perimeter slack of Cousins’ absence.

Team Stephen features an all-world backcourt of Curry and James Harden as the starting guards, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks at power forward, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid at center and DeMar DeRozan as essentially a rover of shooting guard and small forward.

DeRozan will also have backcourt partner Kyle Lowry on his team, and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson will team up with Curry once more. The Minnesota Timberwolves are represented on Team Stephen with Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, while Trail Blazers guard Damon Lillard brings more firepower to the backcourt. 

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