Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

NBA All-Star Game changing format

Posted on 4 October 2017 by Louis Olvera

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Feb. 18th is getting a Hollywood makeover. Due to the criticism that last year’s game got after the no-defense dunk fest in New Orleans, the NBA decided to make a change.

The NBA is saying goodbye to the classic All-Star game format of East vs West. For this upcoming season the teams will be chosen by captains. This playground model was announced by the NBA on Tuesday. The league said that the player with the highest number of votes from each conference will choose teams from the pool of players who were voted as starters and reserves. Imagine what team Yao Ming would have picked back when he was leading the votes with the help of his home country China.

With the help of Houston Rocket’s guard and National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan who is also chairman of the league’s Labour Relations Committee, the NBA decided to choose a format that has been used by the NFL and NHL recently. The teams will also play for charity. The winner will select either a Los Angeles-area or national organisation for donations to go to. This change might see the biggest difference in terms of teams actually making an effort on defence.

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The 10 starters will continue to be chosen by a combination of fan (50%), player (25%), and media (25%) balloting, with the coaches of each conference then selecting the 14 reserves. The captains will then draft their teams back and forth at an as yet to be determined time. All-Star voting is set to begin on Christmas Day. The All-Star starters would be announced on January 18th, with the reserves on January 23rd. If this year’s leading All-Star vote getters were to be the same as last year, then Lebron James and Stephen Curry would be the team captains. The coaches will be determined the same way as in the past. The coach with the best record two weeks before the game in each conference will get the honour of leading the team selected by the captain of his conference. Steve Kerr of the Warriors and Brad Stevens of the Celtics are ineligible because they coached last year.

This format already makes the selection process more intriguing than the actual game. The captains will have to take into account past, present, and future relationships between players. Just to give a few examples: Will Lebron James, if chosen to be a captain, pick Kyrie Irving after his move to Boston? Would Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook pick each other if they’re captains? Would Lebron James or a Warriors player plan for the future and choose a player like Paul George who is a free agent next summer?

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One thing that is certain is that this new system will give young talent in the East a chance to shine in the All-Star game. Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks and Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers are a pair of third-year players with a chance to claim open All-Star spots, with Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards another strong first-time All-Star contender. However, in the West, it won’t be as easy for young stars. Of the 13 players on last year’s East roster, including injury replacement Carmelo Anthony, four have changed conferences. In addition to Anthony, Jimmy Butler and Paul George were also traded from East to West for younger players, while Paul Millsap signed with the Denver Nuggets as a free agent. That’s bad news for Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, two rising stars who are likely to be among the league’s top 24 players but not among the top 12 in the West.

This new NBA decision has already gotten fans and analysts to talk and get excited for how this selection process may unfold. The question of whether the game will actually be competitive and fun to watch again remains to be seen.