LeBron James is very smart. In the first-ever live NBA All-Star Game Draft, The King selected almost every major player who has been connected to playing with him in Los Angeles.
James picked Kevin Durant first, Kyrie Irving second, Kawhi Leonard third, Anthony Davis fifth and Klay Thompson sixth. The Lakers offered every player not names James to the Pelicans for Davis leading up to the trade deadline. Durant, Irving, Leonard and Thompson will each be unrestricted free agents free to sign with any team this summer.
That’s a chess move if we’ve ever seen one. First, he says there’s no such thing as tampering on All-Star Weekend. Then, he makes sure he has everyone he might want to recruit to the Lakers on his team for the All-Star Game.
This is LeBron James’ world. We’re all just living in it. (Sidebar: Anyone surprised James Harden was the seventh of eight all-star starter picks? No? Moving right along.)
For what it’s worth, Giannis Antetokounmpo also put together a solid team. He’s got Joel Embiid, Paul George, Stephen Curry and Kemba Walker as his starters. Then Giannis traded Ben Simmons for Russell Westbrook, potentially putting two of the most petty NBA players (Russ and Embiid) on the same All-Star roster.
Giannis, you’re a hero.
Either way, the All-Star Draft was fun. It was even more fun live versus last season, when the roster was just announced. Here’s how the rosters panned out:
Starters: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden
Reserves: Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Dwyane Wade
Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker
Reserves: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry, Dirk Nowitzki
Here’s how the draft order went. I would know. I live-blogged it, with my commentary in italics:
LeBron’s gotta pick KD first, right? Giannis already said he’s going Steph first.
Did Giannis just say he's taking Khris Middleton with the first pick of the reserve round? Team Giannis about to get smoked by 50.
Five minutes later Of course it’s a commercial break.
I knew they were gonna drag this draft. Can't just give the people what they want.— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) February 8, 2019
Pick 1, Team LeBron — Kevin Durant
LMAOOOO — Giannis is sick
Pick 1, Team Giannis — Stephen Curry
He said he was gonna do this.
Pick 2, Team LeBron — Kyrie Irving
Giannis: “That’s a good pick right there.”
You damn right it is.
Pick 2, Team Giannis — Joel Embiid
If he puts Embiid and Russ together
Pick 3, Team LeBron — Kawhi Leonard
Pick 3, Team Giannis — Paul George
Pick 4, Team LeBron — James Harden
Pick 4, Team Giannis — Kemba Walker
Pick 5, Team Giannis — Khris Middleton
Pick 5, Team LeBron — Anthony Davis
LEBRON SAID TAMPERING RULES DON’T APPLY ON ALL-STAR WEEKEND
Pick 6, Team Giannis — Nikola Jokic
Pick 6, Team LeBron — Klay Thompson
LeBron is doing this right, man.
Pick 7, Team Giannis — Ben Simmons
LeBron is tight about this pick lmao
Pick 7, Team LeBron — Damian Lillard
Pick 8, Team Giannis — Blake Griffin
Pick 8, Team LeBron — Russell Westbrook
Pick 9, Team Giannis — D’Angelo Russell
FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR D’ANGELO RUSSELL IN THE HOUSE YOU HEARD!
Pick 9, Team LeBron — LaMarcus Aldridge
Pick 10, Team Giannis — Nikola Vucevic
Giannis is getting all the tall guys and all the Euros. Predictable.
Pick 10, Team LeBron — Karl-Anthony Towns
Pick 11, Team Giannis — Kyle Lowry
Pick 12, Team LeBron — Bradley Beal
LMAOOOO. Bradley “I don’t care who goes last” Beal went last
Pick 13, Team LeBron — Dwyane Wade
Pick 13, Team Giannis — Dirk Nowitzki
We have a trade
They just swapped Ben Simmons for Russell Westbrook. Now LeBron and Ben are on the same team, and so are Joel and Russ.