The NBA’s huge announcement for this season’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles seems to be a well-received one. By shaking things up in a similar vein to the NHL’s annual exhibition – allowing team captains to select members of their respective teams, but in a conference-less format – we’re going to have some fascinating lineups.
So while there are still holdovers of the traditional All-Star Game, for at least this season, all sorts of random permutations will hit the court, with fans and observers alike trying to ascertain deeper meanings from both teams. It could be athletes who succeed in business versus those who just succeed on Twitter trolling. Maybe we can make it a Boston affair with guys who Danny Ainge was rumored to have traded for over the past five years against guys who Ainge actually traded for. Or because it could be funny, players actually on Kevin Durant’s level against players who say they’re on Kevin Durant’s level. (Oh, it was just Michael Beasley. That’s cool, though.)
Plenty of sites will have their dream lineups, including the most-anticipated ‘Banana Boat’ squad (and perhaps an outlet-pass demon at the 5) going against a crazy Warriors/Rockets/2012 OKC Thunder reunion mashup. Instead here at TSFJ, we’re just going have some fun with definitely-not-going-to-happen pairings – in some cases, without regard for position – that will make social media collapse into itself.
The Lakers Speculation Special - LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Lonzo Ball
There are a few standard staples in the NBA commentary space – LeBron vs. MJ debates, crying about inevitable NBA Finals matchups, bashing the New York Knicks (I’m not even going to fight that this year) and making up rumors about whose coming to L.A. Though Russell Westbrook is staying in Oklahoma City, if you want to set Lakers Nation Twitter on fire, just put all of the guys that the team had been rumored to sign or trade for in the last three years to run the floor with the much-hyped rookie point guard.
Of course, if LaVar Ball comes anywhere near the court, I guarantee you he’s going to 'Drake the moment.'
The Truly Petty Five - John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Dion Waiters, Rudy Gobert
Wall not only hates ‘superteams’ being formed all around him, but he sonned Dennis Schröder both on and off the court. Russ, the NBA’s most “bitter? I’m not bitter!” ex ever, signed his mammoth contract extension on his former teammate’s birthday. Dame is perhaps one studio session away from a diss track about everyone that didn’t vote him as an All-Star. Waiters penned arguably the greatest piece in The Players’ Tribune history. Gobert let all of his emotions off on Twitter this offseason – jousting with Isaiah Thomas and shading his former teammate, Gordon Hayward, on the new Celtic’s way out of Utah.
Can we just let these guys release their angst on the court? Dunks of rage, comical post-game social media posts and one more journalistic gem from Waiters. The people need all of it.
They’re Freakishly Athletic, Even For The NBA – Dennis Smith, Jr., Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Aaron Gordon, Anthony Davis
Look, even the least athletic-looking player in the NBA is a tremendous athlete. (Challenge any of them to run sprints, I dare you!) Yet there are some guys that either look like they could leap straight to the roof of a stadium, have hands the size of Alaska or are just absurdly quick and long.
Draftniks, Summer League watchers and our own Ronnie Hampston can’t stop raving about the leaping ability and motor of the Dallas Mavericks’ rookie guard. What makes Leonard great is his smarts combined with his superb physique. You’d swear Antetokounmpo travels when attacking the rim when it’s just his nimble feet and long stride. Gordon is emerging more than a tremendous dunker, but for the heck of it, Smith should just throw him some lobs anyway. Davis is a unique big who would be a monster on a team that can run.
(Honorable mention to Zach LaVine and Blake Griffin, who had/have injury concerns. And for variety’s sake, Westbrook and James can’t be on every team.)
The Dirk Nowitzkis – Kristaps Porzingis, Lauri Markkanen, two other tall white guys that can shoot and, well, Dirk Nowitzki
Look, we love Dirk around here. We also love that scouts and college basketball analysts see tall white and/or European players and immediately compare them to the legendary forward. So if this is his swan song in the NBA, let’s put it all on the court while paying a proper tribute with a lineup guys bestowed with 'the next Dirk' label alongside the one, only and original ‘Tall Baller from the G.’ Porzingis has already been schooled by the master while Markkanen is supposed to be part of the Bulls’ future, with comparisons running rampant, if not unfairly.
Every guy has to do the one-legged fadeaway at least once, but in proper fashion, the future Hall of Famer would be the only one to make the shot. (And it would be fitting if he hit it above a former nemesis.)
Jason is the editor-in-chief here at TSFJ. In addition to a past life as a research analyst in advertising, television and online media, he spent seven seasons as the New York Beacon's beat writer for the New York Giants. Jason has written for Yardbarker, Dime Magazine, Decider, Awful Announcing and The Week. He is also a member of his high school's 4th period gym class floor hockey champions.