Changes are coming to the NBA All-Star Game this season, tweaks that ought to make the annual exhibition more watchable.
The game has turned into a lackluster affair in recent years, prompting the league to announce a drastic shift Tuesday: instead of the traditional East-versus-West format, the player with the most votes in each conference will be named a captain, and then will take turns choosing the rest of their respective teams. So basically, it’s playground-style.
“I’m thrilled with what the players and the league have done to improve the All-Star Game, which has been a priority for all of us,” said Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, the players union president and a nine-time all-star, in a statement from the league announcing the changes. “We’re looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in L.A.”
The process of building the teams will be the same: voting will occur to choose the five starters from each conference, the league’s coaches will be called upon to select the seven reserves and the coach with the best record in each conference will be in charge of the respective teams.
From there, though, the process of selecting who will play on each team will be done by the top vote-getter in each conference, mimicking what the NHL instituted from 2011-2015 and changing up a format that had grown stale. The game consisted of virtually no defense and provided little reason to tune in beyond uncontested dunks and players flinging up three-pointers.
This is an attempt to change that by introducing a different element to the production and create some drama by seeing how the captains will choose their squads. Will beefs between certain stars factor into decision-making? Who will be the last player chosen?
In 2017, when factoring in fan votes plus media and player selections, LeBron James received the highest total in the Eastern Conference, while Kevin Durant claimed the most in the West, meaning they would have been the team captains if the format were implemented then.
Another change to the 2018 game is that the teams will play for charity. Each team will select a Los Angeles-area charity, where next year’s event is being held, or a national organization where donations will be used to support local efforts. The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for Feb. 18.