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Solano: NBA All-Star preview

Team James versus Team Curry. Now doesn’t that sound familiar? Except, this time, it’s not the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rather, on Feb. 18, the NBA’s All-Star Game will feature the two teams in a battle replacing the previous East versus West formatting. Here are the rosters:

 

Team James:

Kyrie Irving, G, Boston Celtics
Kevin Durant, F, Golden State Warriors
LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans Pelicans
DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans
Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards
LaMarcus Aldridge, F, San Antonio Spurs
Paul George, F, Oklahoma City Thunder*
Kevin Love, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana Pacers
Kristaps Porzingis, F, New York Knicks
John Wall, G, Washington Wizards

Team Curry:

Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors
James Harden, G, Houston Rockets
DeMar DeRozan, G, Toronto Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks
Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trail Blazers
Jimmy Butler, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Draymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors
Kyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors
Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics

Italics: player will not play due to injury
*: replacement for injured player
Bold: starter

 

Here are some combinations that I’m looking forward to:

Westbrook and Durant: While the two stars played together in last year’s All-Star Game, the damage done from Durant’s moving to Golden State has continued to grow. Westbrook now has a squad of his own, and this may give him the confidence that he didn’t need to take on Durant. Hopefully, we’ll see some flashbacks to their time together in Oklahoma City.

Irving and James: Irving and James also had a split this offseason when Irving decided he no longer wanted to be in James’ shadow. However, the two stars don’t seem to have the drama that the former OKC duo have. I’m excited to see the two suit up together with Irving’s new leadership and take on the familiar face of Stephen Curry.

Durant versus Curry, Thompson and Green: The four stars have made it clear that they’re going to look for each other during the All-Star Game, whether for a lob, a block or a smirk. I’m excited to see Durant chase down Thompson, block Curry’s three and stare down Green.

Durant and James: These two future hall-of-famers have faced off in several combinations of jerseys, but this time, they’re suiting up together. This duo will certainly make me jump out of my seat throughout the game.

I’ve read some opinions that dismiss Curry’s team due to the small ball approach. However, their coach, Mike D’Antoni, will make use of the shooting abilities of Curry, Harden and DeRozan. Another consideration for the competition is how LeBron’s lineup will change now that Paul George will replace DeMarcus Cousins. A starting line up of Irving, George, Durant, James and Davis would be the best option as George can keep up with the Curry’s shooters while posting threes at the same time.

This All-Star Game will certainly be one of the more exciting and dynamic in recent years. We may even see some defense! Here are my predictions for the game:

Team James slides past Team Curry 160-155

All Star MVP: Kevin Durant 45 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and five blocks

Steph Curry heats up, dropping eight threes, contributing to his 38 points

The Warriors will dominate the show with Kevin Durant leading Team James and Steph Curry splashing threes continuously. While I hoped to see Curry and James suit up together, the combinations I listed above will keep fans on the edges of their seats. Next year, I hope to see Gordon Hayward and DeMarcus Cousins on the floor after they recover from their devastating injuries. Regardless of the outcome of the game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will absolutely walk away satisfied with the outcome of the new formatting.

 

Contact Andrew Solano at aesolano ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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