NBA All-Star Game 2018: Starting Lineups, Reserves, Roster Breakdown

A new NBA All-Star Game format has arrived in 2018. Teams are no longer separated by conference. Instead, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors chose their teams in secret from the pool of players selected by a combination of fans, players, media members and coaches.

Even though the game has increasingly moved away from defensive intensity and overall effort, the new format offers some intrigue. Will the fact that captains selected their teams impact the way the stars play on Sunday?

Let’s take a look at the rosters for Team LeBron and Team Stephen. Then we’ll discuss some key storylines with the rosters that merit watching on Sunday.

         

Team LeBron

Starters

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans**

           

Reserves

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Goran Dragic, Miami Heat*

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons*

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder*

Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets*

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers**

Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks**

John Wall, Washington Wizards**

                 

Team Stephen

Starters

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 

James Harden, Houston Rockets

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

              

Reserves

Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Note: * denotes injury replacements and ** denotes originally selected players who are being replaced. Dwane Casey, coach of the Toronto Raptors and Team LeBron, will select DeMarcus Cousins’ replacement in the starting lineup.

            

Key Storylines to Watch

Will Russell Westbrook’s Ankle Injury Affect His Intensity and Impact?

Over the past few years, Westbrook has established himself as a constant threat for All-Star Game MVP honors. The Thunder point guard’s past three appearances in the midseason exhibition have yielded totals of 113 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists, nine steals and two MVP awards. He’s gotten those numbers in a total of just 66 minutes, too.

Westbrook is probably the most electrifying athlete in the NBA. Every year, he takes it upon himself to thrill fans with thunderous slam dunks and quick-trigger three-point shots.

However, Westbrook is dealing with a left ankle injury. Per ESPN’s Royce Young, the superstar’s status for the Thunder’s game Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers was still in question.

Knowing Westbrook’s competitive spirit, there’s little doubt that he suits up at Staples Center on Sunday for Team LeBron. However, there’s a chance that he tones down his effort a bit. There’s no reason to risk re-injury in an exhibition game, even with the increased monetary prize for winning this year.

       

Will Team Stephen’s Shooting or Team LeBron’s Athleticism Win Out?

Both of these teams are stacked. Neither team has actual weaknesses. However, looking down the roster, it’s clear that both squads have major strengths. For Team Stephen, it’s three-point shooting. For Team LeBron, it’s explosiveness that should manifest itself in lots of dunks, blocks and up-and-down play.

For Team Stephen, Curry, Harden and Thompson are first, second and fourth in the NBA in made three-pointers per game, respectively. Lillard is tied for sixth and Lowry is ninth. The 2016 Western Conference All-Stars’ record of 80 three-pointers attempted in a game is in danger with this group.

Meanwhile, Team LeBron has athletic firecrackers like James, Durant, Davis, Westbrook, Drummond, George and Oladipo. All will attack the rim with ferocity and use every inch of their substantial vertical leaps to finish in transition and jump for rebounds and blocks.

So which team’s strength will prove to be more effective? The amount of defensive resistance each squad offers will play a big role here.

                  

Will There Be Any Drama on Team LeBron?

Besides actual on-court strengths, a notable storyline from the rosters is the interpersonal dynamics. Team Stephen has Joel Embiid, who frequently gets into playful feuds on Twitter. However, the roster as a whole seems free of potential clashing. Having the Warriors’ established trio of Curry, Green and Thompson and their chemistry should help.

Team LeBron’s personality dynamics could be a little bit more complicated. The conflict between James and Irving contributed to the latter’s trade request from the Cavaliers last summer. The Durant-Westbrook feud has gone on since Durant bolted from the Thunder to the Warriors two offseasons ago.

They are the four main players for Team LeBron. James, Irving and Durant are starters, while Westbrook is the reigning NBA MVP and has two All-Star Game MVPs to his name from 2015 and 2016.

Yes, these players are all adults. But that doesn’t mean they’re immune to petty spats. The interpersonal conflicts between players on Team LeBron could affect the team’s cohesiveness.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA http://ift.tt/yO6Sgr

February 13, 2018 at 10:23PM

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s