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Captains to pick NBA All-Star teams live on court just before game

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Michael Smith, Vincent Goodwill, and Natalie discuss a new wrinkle to the NBA All-Star Game festivities, calling it a "natural evolution."

The NBA is leaning all the way in on the playground-style All-Star Game team selections. Everything but shirts vs. skins.

This year the two team captains — the players receiving the most fan votes from the Eastern and Western conferences — will pick their teams right on the court before the game, the NBA announced Tuesday night.

This s the way it always should have been. The NHL has done this in the past with its All-Star Game, but the NBA has always had the player draft weeks before the game.

Those two captains — and the rest of the starters voted in by the fans, players and media — will be announced Thursday, Jan. 26, on TNT. As in recent years, fan voting counts for 50% of the starters point total, while media and player votes each count for 25%. Once the starters are chosen, the coaches vote for the seven reserves from each conference, those will be announced a week later.

As of the last fan vote the captains would be LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the rest of the starters being Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic. LeBron had a clear lead in the West, but Durant and Antetokounmpo are close for the East captaincy.

LeBron has been the captain each of the five seasons the NBA has gone to this format, and his teams are 5-0 in the All-Star Game.

The NBA All-Star Game occurs on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. Events from the weekend will be broadcast on TNT.