So, the new NBA All-Star Game format could either be fun, or it could be just as mediocre as the current product.
The current product, which consists of the Western Conference beating the Eastern Conference six times during the past seven seasons, is not that bad. The All-Star Game isn’t supposed to be a battle. It’s supposed to be a relaxing, yet entertaining game that features the league’s stars.
The current product could still be better, though, and the NBA’s latest modification to All-Star Weekend perhaps has the potential to show positive return.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced Tuesday that the 2018 All-Star Game will not pit the Eastern Conference and Western Conference against each other. This season marks the first time in league history that the All-Star Game won’t have the conferences play each other.
Each team will have a captain, which will be the starter who receives the most fan votes in their conference. Then the two captains will pick from a pool of players who were voted as starters or reserves for the game.
Looking at how the NBA has recently thrived upon a culture of stars teaming up, this new format could be interesting.
Say LeBron James earns the most fan votes for the Eastern Conference. That’s something that is likely to happen. If he’s captain, then he has total control of who he picks, so long as those players are in the preset pool.
The All-Star Game will still be the All-Star Game, what with its high-flying dunks and compelling one-on-one matchups.
But now, fans can truly see how James, or any other star, would construct a team. If Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony are All-Stars this season, the idea of the banana boat squad playing together is possible.
James and his close friends could all be on the same team under the new format, but what’s more intriguing is who would be on the other team. Looking at the West, players like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are likely to be at the top of the fan voting.
If Curry constructed a team of Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and other stars, this game could live up to its billing for once. Intriguing storylines would arise.
Would Curry and James battle in a mid-season exhibition as they lead their teams?
Considering Irving will be an All-Star this season, would James draft him, even after the trade fiasco? And on top of that, would James draft Russell Westbrook, fueling the storyline of Durant versus Westbrook, former teammates that prospered in Oklahoma City?
The intrigue that can come out of this new format is endless. But while the new format has potential, it also has some potential disadvantages.
This new format could still be filled with high-flying alley-oops and minimal defense. It’s still a mid-season exhibition. All-Star Weekend is a time when players try to rest before the second half of the season and impending playoff push.
In addition to the game remaining the same, the new format could enable fans to affect the game more.
The fans are basically choosing the captains, and if they don’t pick a superstar – someone like James or Curry – the intriguing storylines could vanish.
If this new format works, meaning players, fans and team front offices enjoy it, then it’s hard to see the NBA switching back to the old format.
The old format wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either. It was time for a change.