Wizards

NBA All-Star Mock Draft: Team LeBron drafts Giannis No. 1

Wizards

Just as intriguing as the selection of NBA All-Stars is the draft in which the players get selected by the team captains. Whether it comes down to who's buds with one another, who has played together before or even if there's a slight bit of tampering, who selects who and when is always fascinating wrinkle follow.

No general manager in NBA history has a better winning percentage than LeBron James does when it comes to selecting his All-Star team roster. Ever since the NBA switched the game's format with team captains, Team LeBron is 4-0 with the opportunity to keep the undefeated streak alive once again. 

This will be Team Durant's second straight chance to unseat the King at the All-Star Game. 

James' team gets the first selection amongst the All-Star starters by virtue of receiving the most fan votes. Durant will then get the first vote for the All-Star reserves.

Leading to the 2022 All-Star Game Draft, NBC Sports Washington's Tyler Byrum and Mike DePrisco will take the place of LeBron James and Kevin Durant as team captains and guess who will be selected. Byrum selects for Team LeBron, DePrisco for Team Durant. 

Durant and Draymond Green are both out of the All-Star Game due to injury, leaving NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to name LaMelo Ball and Dejounte Murray as replacements.

Here's how the mock draft was decided:

All-Star Game Starters:

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Team LeBron)

No one picks All-Star rosters better than James. And after three years of Giannis Antetokounmpo playing against James in the new All-Star Game format, James finally got the chance to draft him with the first overall pick in 2021. There's no reason not to draft him No. 1 again this season as he's making a case for another MVP award in Milwaukee.

 

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Team Durant)

With Antetokounmpo and all the great roster flexibility he brings off the board, Joel Embiid is the clear choice with the No. 2 overall selection. He averaged 34 points, 10.8 rebounds and five assists in January and carried the Sixers to a top-three seed in the East while Ben Simmons continues to polish off his Call of Duty skills.

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (Team LeBron)

If given the opportunity, why not just repeat the team James built in 2021? Regardless, Curry appears to be out of the midseason slump he was in and back to pacing the Warriors with 25.9 ppg. Deep ball shooting is exactly what a Lebron-Antetokounmpo team would need. 

4. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Team Durant)

Morant was going to be my pick even if Curry was available. The third-year point guard is a bonafide MVP candidate and is leading an electric Grizzlies team to a top-three seed in the West. Morant produces roughly three-to-four jaw-dropping plays every regular-season game. Just imagine what he could do in an All-Star format.

5. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (Team LeBron)

In some regards, Jokic is having a better season than what he put together to win the MVP last year. Averaging 25.9 points, 13.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists, Jokic adds just another true playmaker to a squad that already will have no problems with their passing abilities. Plus, having Jokic on your roster is better than having Antetokounmpo draw a tough matchup.

6. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls (Team Durant)

For all of his warts in the postseason, DeRozan has been excellent in his first season with the Bulls and it's a near certainty he baits someone into a shooting foul with a well-timed pump fake. Everyone will roll their eyes. He'll unapologetically knock down two free throws. It'll be fun! Plus, it was either DeRozan or Trae Young and I'm not about to take the ball out of Morant's hands.

7. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (Team LeBron)

Another 25+ point scorer or Andrew Wiggins? This hypothetical would be a no-brainer for Team LeBron especially with the ample supply of backcourt defenders (if that's even a factor) in the reserves.

8. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (Team Durant)

With Durant out due to injury, let's go with another big, smooth scorer in Tatum who's only getting better as the season progresses. Since returning from COVID-19 protocols in early January, Tatum's averaging 26.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists while getting the Celtics back on track in the East.

9. Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors (Team Durant)

I only picked Wiggins because there was nobody left. He's had a good year, but Rudy Gobert's inability to get fan votes is the only reason Wiggins is here.

 

All-Star Game Reserves:

10. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (Team Durant)

11. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Team LeBron)

12. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (Team Durant)

13. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat (Team LeBron)

14. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Team Durant)

15. James Harden, Brooklyn Nets (Team LeBron)

16. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Team Durant)

17. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (Team LeBron)

Can't let Gobert get picked last again this season. He's more than deserved his All-Star nods the past two seasons.

18. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers (Team Durant)

19. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns (Team LeBron)

Given his likability across the league and fit on a star-laden roster, it's unlikely that Paul is drafted this late. Team LeBron will gladly take him anyways.

20. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (Team Durant)

21. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (Team LeBron)

22. Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs (Team Durant)

23. Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors (Team LeBron)

--

Team LeBron:

Starters: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic, Trae Young

Reserves: Devin Booker, Jimmy Butler, James Harden, Rudy Gobert, Chris Paul, Khris Middleton, Fred VanVleet

Team Durant:

Starters: Joel Embiid, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan, Jayson Tatum, Andrew Wiggins

Reserves: Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, Darius Garland, LaMelo Ball, Dejounte Murray