LOS ANGELES, USA – LeBron James opted for Golden State star Kevin Durant with the 1st pick of the All-Star draft on Thursday, February 7 (Friday, February 8, Philippine time).
James, who will lead a team against fellow All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo’s lineup in Charlotte on February 17, assembled a formidable looking starting lineup.
After choosing Durant first, James then added former Cleveland teammate Kyrie Irving to his team.
In-form Toronto star Kawhi Leonard was picked 3rd by James before he selected reigning Most Valuable Player James Harden with his 4th pick.
New Orleans Pelicans ace Anthony Davis – linked to a move to the Los Angeles Lakers before the trade deadline closed Thursday – headed James’ reserves.
Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal completed the squad.
James then added close friend Dwyane Wade with the NBA’s “special selection” in the draft, which was televised this year for the first time.
Rival captain Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, selected Durant’s Golden State teammate Stephen Curry with the 2nd overall pick.
The Milwaukee Bucks star then selected Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before adding Paul George and Kemba Walker.
Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic and Kyle Lowry made up the reserves.
Antetokounmpo added Dirk Nowitzki as his special selection.
In a surprise move, the two captains then agreed to a trade, with James swapping Oklahoma City Thunder star Westbrook for Ben Simmons after the draft.
James proposed the move in order to get Westbrook and Embiid on the same side.
“I know Ben Simmons is your guy so I’ll do it,” Antetokounmpo said.
All Star Squads:
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden; Reserves: Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal
Special pick: Dwyane Wade
Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker; Reserves: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry
Special pick: Dirk Nowitzki
Note: Westbrook traded from Team LeBron for Simmons after draft. – Rappler.com