On March 4th, there was a draft for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the captain of their respective teams, were tasked with drafting their own team. The process was very simple, as the starters were drafted first, and then the reserves afterward.
So how does Team LeBron compare to Team Durant? Which team would prevail in the All-Star game? Let’s first take a look at Team LeBron:
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (Backcourt)
Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks (Backcourt)
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Frontcourt)
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Frontcourt)
Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets (Frontcourt)
Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns (Backcourt)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Backcourt)
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (Backcourt)
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers (Backcourt)
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (Frontcourt)
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (Frontcourt)
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (Frontcourt)
One word easily defines Team LeBron’s biggest strength – passing.
On paper, there are a lot of great passers on this squad. LeBron has a strong knack for passing the ball and getting open looks for his teammates. Simmons has excelled as a passing point forward. Dončić and Paul are both top five in the NBA in assists. Jokić is arguably the best passing big in the league, and Sabonis isn’t that far behind.
Now, that isn’t to say that Team LeBron would finish the game with well over a hundred assists. That would be nigh impossible, even in an All-Star Game format. But viewers should expect to see some very selfless play from Team LeBron on the court Sunday night.
But passing isn’t the only good thing that Team LeBron is good at. The team is very strong in many other aspects of the game.
Three-point shooting? Steph and Lillard got it covered. Need some scoring? George and Brown can score at will, and then some. Attacking and finishing at the rim? LeBron and Giannis are more than capable of doing just that. What about some defense? Simmons and Gobert’s defensive presence on the court is unmatched. How about finishing out the game? Paul has demonstrated time and time again his ability to take over as a floor general, and close out the game in crunch time.
All in all, Team LeBron has a lot of strengths, and not too many weaknesses. Now let’s take a glance at Team Durant’s lineup:
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets (Backcourt)
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (Backcourt)
Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers (Frontcourt)
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (Frontcourt)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Frontcourt)
James Harden, Brooklyn Nets (Backcourt)
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Backcourt)
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (Backcourt)
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Backcourt)
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans (Frontcourt)
Julius Randle, New York Knicks (Frontcourt)
Nikola Vučević, Orlando Magic (Frontcourt)
While Team LeBron’s biggest strength is passing, the most defining trait of Team Durant would perhaps be scoring at will.
Of course, when you have the NBA’s leading scorer in Beal in your starting lineup, scoring an insane amount of points would be expected. But beyond Beal, Team Durant has other capable scorers. And each one of them has their own way of getting buckets.
Leonard and Booker are both monsters in the midrange. Tatum has the ability to create shots for himself, with a variety of basketball moves under his belt. Lavine now has an excellent three-ball, shooting a career-best .435 percent from behind the arc. (Oh, and he can dunk, too.) Both Embiid and Vučević can post up and score effectively in the paint – and they can also pull up from three if they need to.
While Team Durant might excel at scoring, they still need some playmaking on their side if they want to keep the game close. Fortunately for them, they have a few playmakers on their squad. Take for instance Harden, who has eased his way into a playmaking maestro at the point guard position. Kyrie can also take over at the point, while his passing ability may not be as pronounced as Harden’s. Mitchell, who has improved upon his playmaking this year, can play at the point as well and find open looks for his teammates.
If Team Durant needs a point forward, Randle can step up to the plate and handle all the ballhandling duties. Williamson has also shown some chops at the point and has helped his Pelicans team increase their offensive efficiency. Imagine what he could do with Team Durant and its plethora of scorers.
So, Who Wins?
Many will look at the starting lineup of Team Lebron, and automatically assume that Team LeBron will pull out a victory. After all, a lineup consisting of Lebron, Giannis, Steph, Dončić, and Jokić does sound pretty unforgiving. Some might claim that Team Durant’s bench is better than Team LeBron’s, and could deceptively keep the game pretty close. That is a pretty good argument to be had.
If Durant were to play in the All-Star game, then the complexity of the game would be very much different. But despite Durant’s absence, the All-Star game should still be a pretty exciting game for basketball fans everywhere. The team whose players exhibit the most selfless play and compliment each other’s abilities should be the one to come out on top Sunday night in Atlanta.