The first ever NBA All-Star Draft was every bit as entertaining as the league marketed it.
Since last month’s announcement of the inaugural NBA All-Star Draft, fans have been curious as to how this old-school style of selecting teams would play out. The league decided to hold the draft directly before the game and on Thursday, announced that it would start with reserves, then wrap up with the starters.
Following an introduction of each player complete with music, dancers and actor Vin Diesel on the mic, the captains got down to business.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, holding a book seemingly filled with notes about potential teammates, kicked things off by selecting Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard as the top overall reserve. This came as a surprise to many in the crowd -- including fellow captain LeBron James -- who expected Antetokounmpo to take Milwaukee Bucks teammate Jrue Holiday first off the board.
LeBron James, the leading-overall vote recipient, responded by taking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards. This is Edwards’ All-Star debut.
Holiday didn’t have to sit for long, however, as Antetokounmpo took him with his second time on the clock. The Bucks star -- who garnered plenty of laughs throughout the night -- apparently didn’t review his notes closely enough when it came to his third pick, because he chose Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant … who had already replaced Stephen Curry as a starter.
The two captains traded off picking from the list of remaining reserves before turning their focus to the starters.
James selected Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid. James is tied with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the most All-Star appearances at 19. He's undefeated in his five consecutive showings as a captain.
In true draft fashion, TNT host Ernie Johnson gave the captains a chance to make trades, an offer neither took him up on.
Veterans Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, along with two-time All-Star Zion Williamson, were voted as starters but ultimately ruled out due to injury.
The NBA has tweaked the format of All-Star weekend over the years, notably adding captains in 2018. But 2023 marks a departure from the traditional conference matchups that have defined the exhibition game for so long and the first time the league has opted to air the draft live on air.
Here are the complete rosters:
- G Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
- G Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
- F Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
- F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- F Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz
- G Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
- G Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
- F Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
- C Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
- G/F DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
- G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
- C Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings
- C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
- G Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
- G Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
- C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- F LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
- G Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
- F Julius Randle, New York Knicks
- F Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
- F Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
- G Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
- F Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
- G De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings