LeBron James, Kevin Durant have stacked NBA All-Star squads, but who has the edge?
Some think the results of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game have already been decided. Is it as clear-cut as it might seem?
LeBron James and Kevin Durant held their made-for-TV draft for the NBA All-Star Game on Thursday, and it was a good time. In a style reminiscent of school recess, the superstars took turns picking from a collection of the league’s best.
LeBron went first, picking Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antentokounmpo. KD responded by selecting his Brooklyn Nets teammate Kyrie Irving, and down the list they went until their rosters were complete.
Durant was at a bit of a disadvantage for two reasons. He picked second, and he won’t have himself on his team, as he continues to sit because of a hamstring injury.
Regardless, both teams are stacked, as you can see here:
But who did better? Which team has the edge come Sunday?
Antentokounmpo had a pretty clear – and amusing – opinion on the whole thing. When told LeBron had picked him, in addition to the other stars he’d be playing with, he reacted with amusement while pondering his good fortune between bites of postgame chicken.
"That’s the starting five?" he said. "Yeah, it’s over, guys."
And he was not alone. On "First Things First," Nick Wright seemed shocked that anyone would even consider that LeBron didn’t have the better team.
"I can’t believe you’re entertaining that it’s close," he said. "First of all, just let’s go league MVPs. Team LeBron’s got eight of them, Luka [Doncic]’s going to win one, and Nikola [Jokic] could win it this year."
On the other hand, Wright pointed out, Team Durant has just one MVP on its roster: James Harden in 2018.
Shannon Sharpe agreed, saying on "Undisputed" that while you could make an argument for Durant due to the presence of Kawhi Leonard, the NBA All-Star MVP last season, LeBron’s team is just too strong.
"The decided advantage that he has, Skip, is that when you select first, you get four of the top seven picks," Sharpe said. "I thought he did a great job selecting his team."
Skip Bayless disagreed and examined LeBron’s roster for holes in the process. Bayless believes that in the modern NBA, 3-point shooting is king, and he doesn't think Team LeBron, even with Stephen Curry, has enough long-range firepower.
"Is Luka a shooter? No, he’s a lousy shooter," he said. "Is Giannis a shooter? No, he can’t shoot a lick. Is LeBron James really a shooter? Is that what he does? No. I’ll give you just below average, but he’s certainly not even an average shooter."
Whether that will matter in Sunday’s game remains to be seen. All-Star games are often dominated by a run-and-gun, alley-oop style for the bulk of the action, and they settle into something resembling more of a normal NBA game in the final minutes.
But no matter if you like Team LeBron’s depth to carry the day or prefer Team Durant’s outside shooting, Sharpe pointed out that there is one huge problem for Durant.
"The thing that hurts Kevin Durant’s team is that Kevin Durant’s not playing," he said. "That’s the biggest drawback against his team is that he’s not going to be on the floor. Now had he been able to play, we might be having a different discussion."
That’s a fair point, and something we’ll see play out on Sunday.