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The new NBA All-Star game format, explained

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The NBA ditches East and West in a new All-Star game format.

NBA All-Star Game 2017 Photo by Bob Donnan - Pool/Getty Images

Had you dreamed of Stephen Curry playing alongside LeBron James? It can happen now. What about seeing Russell Westbrook and John Wall filling lanes together on the fastbreak? I’m saying there’s a chance.

Tradition is out the door. For next season’s 2018 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, the East and West All-Star teams are dissolved. Now, team captains will be selecting the teams regardless of what conference players play in, according to a press release from the NBA.

To be entirely clear about this:

  • There will still be 12 players from each conference.
  • Each conference will still get five starters.
  • The captains will pick from the pool of 10 starters first, then the pool of 14 reserves.
  • The draft will not be televised. We’re disappointed.

This is the first time in league history we’ll see players from different conferences teaming up for the All-Star game. This was a move fans had been asking for with the Western Conference being the more dominant of the two over the last decade-plus, but it was totally unanticipated.

Each All-Star team will play for a different charity from either Los Angeles or a national organization where all donations and proceeds from the game will be sent.

This sounds awesome! But how does this work?

There will still be 24 players, overall, selected for the All-Star team with the fans, players, and media all voting for the 10 All-Star starters same as last year. Twelve players from each conference still all earn a spot. Coaches still select the 14 other reserves who play on the team after the starters are selected.

Players who received the most votes in their respective conferences will be selected as the team captains. Those players were LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

The other eight starters are as follows:

  • Kyrie Irving
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Joel Embiid
  • Kevin Durant
  • James Harden
  • Anthony Davis
  • DeMarcus Cousins

The reserves will be announced on Jan. 23 before TNT’s coverage, and the results of the draft will be unveiled on Jan. 25, also on TNT. The draft will not be televised, much to our chagrin.

From there, James and Curry will draft the rest of their teams, starting from the pool of eight starters, then moving to the pool of 14 reserves.

Why is this happening?

The change to the game was part of a push by Chris Paul, serving as the president of the NBPA, according to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

"I'm thrilled with what the players and the league have done to improve the All-Star Game, which has been a priority for all of us. We're looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in L.A.,” Paul said.

This is the second consecutive year the NBA has made a tradition-breaking shift in its All-Star game format. The league implemented changes in its voting system last season, reducing fan voting totals to weigh 50 percent in All-Star starter results. Both the players and media were given a 25 percent share of the vote last season for the first time in league history.

This was originally published in late October and was updated prior to the announcement of the All-Star starters.


Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are twin towers for a modern NBA