Grading 2020 NBA All-Star Draft selections made by LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo
We’re a week away from the 2020 NBA All-Star Game at the United Center, as the league’s brightest stars will once again share the court for the biggest exhibition match in the world.
This year’s iteration is indeed special, as the NBA changed the format of the All-Star game to honor late basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
The NBA has gone away from the traditional East versus West format for the third straight year. MVP frontrunners LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks are once again named as team captains and have already picked their preferred teammates.
It’s quite tricky to grade Giannis and LeBron’s draft selection considering they both have super teams at their disposal. After all, these are the best 24 players in the league right now.
Instead, let’s take look at which team holds the advantage in three specific areas based on their personnel.
Reserves: Damian Lillard (Blazers), Ben Simmons (Sixers), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Chris Paul (Thunder), Russell Westbrook (Rockets), Domantas Sabonis (Pacers)
Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Joel Embiid (Sixers), Pascal Siakam (Raptors), Kemba Walker (Celtics), Trae Young (Hawks)
Reserves: Khris Middleton (Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Heat), Rudy Gobert (Jazz), Jimmy Butler (Heat), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Brandon Ingram (Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
Advantage: Team LeBron
Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to the All-Star Game. Both teams will certainly have their fair share of lobs and no-look dishes to captivate the crowd. Team LeBron, however, takes the cake on this department since they have the league’s leading dime dropper, LeBron James, leading the charge.
Luka Doncic is also an excellent passer and is expected to dazzle in his first All-Star appearance. The team won’t miss a beat when the pair head to the bench as Ben Simmons is great at finding his teammates for open looks. Then, there’s the NBA’s “point god” Chris Paul who still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
Team LeBron even has the luxury of having two of the best passing big men in the league right now in Nikola Jokic and Domantas Sabonis.
Advantage: Team Giannis
The last few All-Star games have been chastised by pundits for allegedly lacking defense, but this year may just turn out to be one of the most competitive ones.
The game’s format got a huge upgrade in honor of the ultimate competitor the league has ever seen in Kobe Bryant.
Both teams will likely clamp-on D, particularly in the fourth period where both teams must target a score of 24 points greater than the leading team’s score in the third period.
Team Giannis possesses the length and athleticism to really slow down their counterparts. The Greek Freak is a terror in the passing lanes and also one of the best weak-side defenders in the game. The duo of him and Pascal Siakam will indeed pose problems on the wings for Team LeBron.
Jimmy Butler and Khris Middleton are also lockdown defenders capable of shadowing anyone on the floor, while Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid will be there to protect the paint.
Advantage: Team LeBron
This is a close one, considering both teams can light it up from distance. The slight edge, however, goes to Team LeBron. All their five starters have the capability to dial it from deep — particularly James Harden who still leads the league in total three-pointers made and attempted.
Damian Lillard, who has been on a tear as of late, can also fire away from almost anywhere on the floor. Ben Simmons is the only member of Team LeBron who is not a threat from distance.