Last year, the NBA unveiled a new format for the All-Star Game, one in which teams are chosen by captains regardless of conference. The early returns were good, as it added intrigue to the annual showcase.
But last year we didn’t get to actually see the players get picked. This time around, that won’t be the case as the league is set to air the draft live on TNT this Thursday, Feb. 7.
As we all wait for what should be an entertaining event, our Wizards Insiders Chase Hughes and Ben Standig went through their own mock draft.
They played by the same rules that captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will abide by when they make their picks this week: We alternated first picks between three pools of starters, reserves and the legacy All-Stars, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.
Since Hughes got the imaginary fan vote, he will go first…
1. LeBron James, Lakers – CH: I’ll kick this thing off by taking the best player on the planet when healthy. Easy pick. Hopefully, he has prepared his sales pitch for Lakers trade targets.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks – BS: Let’s get freaky with the lengthy Greek import and leading MVP candidate this side of James Harden. Whether he plays center or forward for my team, Giannis will play, play and play some more.
3. Stephen Curry, Warriors – CH: I could do a lot worse with the first non-captain pick than the best shooter of all-time.
4. Kevin Durant, Warriors – BS: the All-Star game is about getting buckets and nobody does that better from more angles than the kid from PG County.
5. Joel Embiid, Sixers – CH: For some reason, even though this is an All-Star Game and defense is discouraged, I still feel like I need a rim protector.
6. James Harden, Rockets – BS: Alexa, please draft the player scoring at an unfathomable pace only equaled historically by Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
7. Kawhi Leonard, Raptors – CH: You know, they actually do play defense sometimes in the final minutes of All-Star games. Assuming that happens, I will have arguably the best wing defender to deploy.
8. Paul George, Thunder – BS: Ha, Chase thinks he just drafted the best wing defender. I know I just drafted the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, not to mention an MVP candidate.
9. Kyrie Irving, Celtics – CH: James and Irving in the same locker room will give them plenty of time to plot their reunion to take another shot at Golden State.
10. Kemba Walker, Hornets – BS: You can have Uncle Drew. See, the 2019 All-Star game is being held in Charlotte. Walker is the best player on Charlotte’s NBA team. In other words, I just drafted home-court advantage.
11. Anthony Davis, Pelicans – BS: Sorry, LeBron. You don’t get “The Brow” just yet. We’ll have security guarding the locker room just in case you come knocking. Send a text.
12. Russell Westbrook, Thunder – CH: That’s right. Embiid and Westbrook on the same team. Let’s have some fun.
13. Bradley Beal, Wizards – BS: Beal “deserved” the other starting guard slot opposite Kyrie. He certainly tops Ben Simmons to the point I didn’t consider the 76ers guard here. I’m sure you concur. Oh, wait…
14. Ben Simmons, Sixers – CH: Now I just need you to not pick Blake Griffin and my team can really be the best.
15. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets – BS: Wait, now I land the game’s best passing big man after drafting all kinds of shooters? Not even Bill Belichick could slow down the offensive arsenal I’m putting together.
16. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves – CH: Dang. I wanted Jokic. I’m going to have to settle for another ridiculously skilled big man.
17. Damian Lillard, Blazers – BS: Portland wins lots and lots despite not having some crazy talented roster. The Blazers do have a crazy good point guard. Now, so does Team Ben.
18. Klay Thompson, Warriors – CH: I have Curry, Thompson and Irving. I hope you like giving up threes.
19. Blake Griffin, Pistons – BS: Well, rats. I hoped the player voted “Best sidekick for a long road trip” would make it past you. Instead, let’s go with the power-packed forward revving up the Pistons this season.
20. Kyle Lowry, Raptors – CH: Darn. You picked Griffin. Fine, I will take Lowry just in case defense is needed though we all know it won’t be.
21. Khris Middleton, Bucks – BS: Fun fact: Milwaukee acquired Middleton in a 3-for-1 trade that sent ex-Wizard Brandon Jennings to Detroit.
22. LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs – CH: Aldridge is a sneaky-solid Hall of Fame resume. It sounds crazy, but he has had a really good career.
23. D’Angelo Russell, Nets – BS: This means I determine who is picked last among the 24 players selected to the All-Star. Apologies, Nikola Vucevic. To paraphrase the popular yet often mocked rock group, “Smash Mouth,” you’re still an All-Star.
24. Nikola Vucevic, Magic – CH: It was bound to be a first-time All-Star to get picked last. Oh well. Sorry, Nikola.
25. Dwyane Wade, Heat – CH: Hard to pick a favorite between these guys, but Wade is still productive so he gets the nod. Also, Gabrielle Union on my side seems like good luck.
26. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks – BS: I’m excited to ask the seventh leading scorer in NBA history what it was like defeating LeBron and Wade in the 2011 NBA Finals. The coolest part is Nowitzki getting to relive that specific triumph in the 2019 NBA All-Star game.
Hughes: James, Curry, Embiid, Leonard, Lowry, Westbrook, Simmons, Towns, Thompson, Lowry, Aldridge, Vucevic, Wade
Standig: Antetonkounmpo, Durant, Harden, George, Walker, Davis, Beal, Jokic, Lillard, Griffin, Middleton, Russell, Nowitzki
Chase Hughes contributed to this story.
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