Remember the hilarity that ensured this time last year when captain Kevin Durant made his final pick in the NBA All-Star Game draft? The NBA has taken lengths to avoid a similarly awkward yet amusing scenario playing out this weekend in Salt Lake City.
Instead of having LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo make initial selections from a group of their fellow starters, the 2023 All-Star Game captains will first choose among the league’s 12 reserves, per TNT (via @TheNBACentral).
The league has given no official justification for the change, but it comes on the heels of the most entertaining All-Star draft since the event’s inception in 2019.
Last year, shortly after Brooklyn Nets teammate James Harden got his wish by being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, Durant was tasked with choosing between his former teammate and Rudy Gobert, the final choice in 2021 All-Star draft, for his last pick.
As James and the Inside The NBA team tried to stifle their laughter, a deadpan Durant said his team “needs some size, for sure, especially with Giannis and LeBron James playing such great basketball” before selecting Gobert—the seventh time he passed on Harden.
The extra unfortunate aspect of this change is that it comes the same year the league is attempting to add more drama and intrigue to the All-Star draft by having it take place in-person directly before the game itself at Vivint Arena. In prior years, the draft was held on TV several days before the All-Star Game.
The NBA All-Star draft begins on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on TNT.