The NBA changed the All-Star Game format this year from players being split up between the Eastern and Western Conference. Instead, the NBA named the two players leading in votes captains, and the players selected their teams in a fantasy draft format. LeBron James was the vote-leader, while Steph Curry picked the other team. Rather than televising the draft, the NBA conducted the draft via phone, and the results were not made public other than the final rosters.
While we don’t know the exact results, information began to leak out after the draft concluded. Kevin Durant essentially admitted in a pre-game interview with TNT that James picked him No. 1 According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Curry took Giannis Antetokounmpo with the second pick. Given Durant is his Warriors teammate, it makes sense James took Durant with the first pick. Otherwise, Curry would have likely selected Durant with the No. 2 pick if he was on the board. Haynes also reported that LaMarcus Aldridge was the last pick in the draft.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke with CNN about the league’s decision not to televise the draft.
We made this major format change to the All-Star Game this year. Someone said, ‘Should we televise it in the first year?’ There was a sense from the players that ‘Why don’t we hold off on doing that. Let’s see if the format works.’…I agreed, it could be very embarrassing even though they’re all stars. Even among the greatest, to be the last picked among the greatest may be slightly embarrassing to some of the players…I thought Steph Curry said it the best. He said, ‘Let’s see if we can get this format off the ground. And if it’s working and then we’ll have something else for people to look forward to next year. We’ll have a televised draft.’
In an interview with ESPN, Silver explained the decision was not final, and the league could explore televising next year’s draft.
“My sense is that already what we’ve heard certainly from the media, even from the players themselves, I think we can have a lot of fun around the draft,” Silver told ESPN. “So, if things go as we hope they will, I’m sure that will be something we’ll sit back down and talk with the union about.”
After his initial reluctance, Curry admitted he would now like for the draft to be televised.
“I think the draft itself would be amazing on TV just to hear the back-and-forth between the captains and see how the teams fill out,” Curry told ESPN. “But we have to protect our guys. That’s the biggest thing.”
The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears spoke with NBAPA Michele Roberts about her reservations about having the draft televised.
I don’t know what the big brouhaha was. Ultimately, people wanted to see the face of the guy who was picked last. That may be fun television, but why? Look, we got a new format. If the players and the NBA want to have a [televised] draft later, fine. I was taken aback by the amount of attention.
I think the issue was totally media-generated. You and your colleagues, and I don’t fault you, were creating an issue that I don’t think the fans were as interested in.
While we don’t know the exact draft results, there were still interesting story lines. James picked former teammate Kyrie Irving, who requested a trade from the Celtics. Durant picked his former OKC running mate, Russell Westbrook, who has been rumored not to be on great terms with after Durant decided not to re-sign with the Thunder.