All of the participants in this year’s NBA All-Star Game have been revealed, but there’s still work to be done.
If you haven’t heard, the NBA is doing the All-Star Game a little differently this year, allowing the two highest fan vote recipients from each conference (in this case, LeBron James and Stephen Curry) to pick their squads, which will be revealed Thursday.
While the new format is ripe with endless possibilities for fun and pettiness, it leaves out one important facet. The draft will not be televised, regardless of the begging and pleading from NBA fans. With this considered, we at Yahoo Sports decided to hold our own mock draft. DJ Dunson represented Team LeBron and fantasy expert Dalton Del Don held up Team Steph.
Jackie Bamberger served as the moderator of the chat. The following is a transcript (lightly edited for clarity) of what went down.
Jackie Bamberger: OK, as a reminder, here’s the pool.
OK, let’s start by asking, are there any snubs from this group? Lots of players are #madonline about being left out.
DJ Dunson: Can’t discuss snubs without including Paul George at the top of the list. He actually plays both sides of the ball and more importantly, it’s an All-Star Game in Los Angeles that he won’t be participating in. Feels like a slap in the face.
Bamberger: Russ agrees.
Dalton Del Don: Andre Drummond becomes the first player ever to post 14-15-3.9 averages and not make the team, so he has a legit gripe.
Bamberger: Who would you guys put PG and Drummond in over?
Del Don: That’s the thing – it’s an obviously loaded group. Someone was bound to feel slighted.
Dunson: Draymond Green. I’m not sure he’s lived up to the hype this season. He made it in off of reputation.
Del Don: The Warriors were definitely rewarded for winning (again).
Dunson: Chris Paul is another major snub. But I’m sure he can burrow underneath the Staples Center and sneak onto the court.
Del Don: Paul has been great. And teammate Clint Capela actually sports the sixth highest PER right now.
Jackie Bamberger: But Capela’s job is easy, right? Way easier than joining a 73 win team with another MVP.
Dunson: He’s not more deserving than the guy throwing him all those lobs on his rim runs. As we learned in Los Angeles the other night. He’s the sacrificial lamb. That’s what his own teammates think of him.
Bamberger: I know they’re trying to say that never happened, but you can’t take the Clint Capela diversion storyline away from us.
OK, it’s time to get down to business. DJ a.k.a. LeBron, you’re on the clock.
Dunson: Gotta rock with KD with the obvious first pick. He may have surpassed LeBron as the most complete player in the league. LeBron is playing matador defense at this stage in his career and KD is looking like a bonafide DPOY candidate who can pick up the slack for him, even if it is an All-Star Game.
Del Don: I figured you’d steal my teammate, which makes it more compelling no doubt. With my first pick, give me James Harden, forming a backcourt with decent range behind the arc.
Bamberger: Solid picks.
Del Don: Give me Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is not only living up to the hype, but surpassing it. This team isn’t going to be fun to defend.
Bamberger: Nice, so he can’t dunk on Steph this year.
Dunson: I’ll take The Brow with my next pick. Let’s not forget that he scored 52 points in last year’s ASG so he can fill it up with the best of them.
Bamberger: That’s a fearsome front court.
Dunson: This is where things get awkward. We need to start filling out that backcourt so DeMar DeRozan is the guy here. What? Who did you think I’d pick?
He’s improved every facet of his game, he’s scoring behind the arc and can put on an aerial show. LeBron can play point guard.
Bamberger: And he’ll no doubt want to show out for his hometown.
Dunson: I still say LeBron is too prideful to pick Kyrie.
Del Don: I’ll go with Boogie here because I need a big, and he’s played out of his mind this season.
Give me Russell Westbrook. He’s so competitive, he’ll treat this game far more competitively than most.
Dunson: Kyrie Irving it is. Someone has to handle the rock and nobody does it better. I’d rather see him face off against LeBron, but his skillset was made for an exhibition basketball game like this.
Bamberger: Wow. The reunion!
Dunson: I am worried about team chemistry.
Bamberger: Do they complete one pass to each other? Maybe we’ll get a moment like we saw with KD and Russ in last year’s game.
Dunson: They’ll do so begrudgingly. Or maybe whoever our coach is will stagger their minutes. Wait. Do we draft coaches?
Jimmy Butler is our sixth man. He’s played like an MVP candidate on the Timberwolves throughout the first half of the season and he’ll play hard in any setting. KD, Anthony Davis, Jimmy. This squad will actually defend in an All-Star Game.
Bamberger: Will they give up less than 148 points?
Bamberger: Too soon?
Dunson: The Cavs’ wounds and the stitches are still fresh.
Bamberger: Still on the board:
West: Aldridge, Draymond, Lillard, Klay, KAT
East: Embiid, Beal, Horford, Love, Lowry, Oladipio, Porzingis, Wall
Del Don: I’ll take KAT and Joel Embiid, giving this squad the option of running a huge lineup out there for a fun stretch. Towns has mostly been playing nightly defense as if it’s an All-Star game this season anyway.
Dunson: You’re hoarding all the bigs. This is unhealthy.
Well, going to grab Porzingis before Dalton does. Best part is that he won’t experience fatigue like he has with the Knicks as the seventh option.
Klay Thompson is our answer to Steph. We’re breaking up the Splash Bros. I want Klay defending Steph in the All-Star Game. This is an underrated storyline if it happens.
Del Don: Not cool stealing Klay, but I’d love to watch that matchup. I could use some more ballhandlers so give me Dame Lillard and Oladipo, who’s posted the sixth-best Real Plus-Minus in the NBA during his breakout season this year.
Bamberger: Who would have guessed that he’d be in L.A. and Paul George wouldn’t be?
Del Don: Crazy.
Dunson: I want Draymond Green and Al Horford setting crisp, bone-jarring screens to get Klay and KD open. Throw the numbers out.
We’ve got 3/4 of the Warriors’ big four. I’m OK with this.
Del Don: Ah, you suckered me earlier when you said Draymond may not have been deserving, so I was expecting him to fall. He’ll be another who plays hard during the exhibition. I’m a Warriors guy, and that’s now three you’ve outright stolen from me.
This team is already point guard and center heavy, so let’s add John Wall and Kyle Lowry to the backcourt mix.
Dunson: Well, he wasn’t as deserving as Paul George, who knows how to throw a mean screen of his own.
Bamberger: Poor Spencer Dinwiddie has been the recipient of so many no-calls.
OK, who is going to get their feelings hurt? Beal, Love and LaMarcus are our last three on the board.
Dunson: At the end of the day, officials don’t know who Spencer Dinwiddie is yet.
I just remembered that I’m supposed to be LeBron and Kevin Love is just sitting on the board. This reminds me of those passive-aggressive Instagram photos LeBron used to post without Kevin Love a few years ago. I can’t leave him out in the cold though.
Final pick has to be Bradley Beal. We’re thin at point guard, but we’ve got Draymond who’s a de-facto point guard anyways.
Bamberger: So you’ll help him up, unlike Jae Crowder
Del Don: I expected him to fall but that makes sense as LeBron.
Bamberger: And that makes LaMarcus Aldridge the last kid on the playground. He’ll get to reunite with Lillard, which should be … something.
Del Don: As yes, that leaves Aldridge, who’s this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. He’s had a great year in San Antonio and well deserving. Good stuff. This would be a fun matchup to watch.
Dunson: We’ve clearly emphasized the new wave of versatility with our squad of point forwards and unicorns.
— LeBron James
— Kevin Durant
— Anthony Davis
— DeMar DeRozan
— Kyrie Irving
— Jimmy Butler
— Kristaps Porzingis
— Klay Thompson
— Draymond Green
— Al Horford
— Kevin Love
— Bradley Beal
— Stephen Curry
— James Harden
— Giannis Antetokounmpo
— DeMarcus Cousins
— Russell Westbrook
— Karl-Anthony Towns
— Joel Embiid
— Damian Lillard
— Victor Oladipo
— John Wall
— Kyle Lowry
— LaMarcus Aldridge