Dating back to 1951, the NBA All-Star Game has always been a mid-season matchup between the top players from each conference, showcasing the NBA’s biggest stars in an East vs. West format. In this century alone, some of the NBA’s all-time greats, including Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, have taken home the All-Star MVP award.
However, in 2017, the NBA decided a change was needed. Following a wave of non-competitive All-Star games, alternative options began to be explored. Commissioner Adam Silver worked with then-NBPA President Chris Paul to revamp the format and create the NBA All-Star Draft, which ushered in a new era of competitiveness in the All-Star Game during its first All-Star implementation. Star Game of 2018.
The format has continued ever since.
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How the All-Star Draft works
- The process begins with the captains, who are determined by the results of the All-Star voting. The leader of each conference can select his squad and have the team named after him (eg Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis).
- The captains take turns selecting from the pool of 22 players voted into the All-Star field: first, they select from the eight All-Star starters, then from the 14 All-Star reserves. Conference affiliation does not matter during the draft process.
Conference affiliation remains important when it comes to voting, with 12 players from both the East and West gaining spots. The 10 starters (two shooting guards and three forwards per conference) are chosen by a combination of fans (50% of the vote), current players (25%) and the media (25%). Players and media received one vote in 2017; only fans selected the starting lineup prior to that date.
The 30 NBA coaches select the 14 reserves, voting for two guards, three attacking players and two players at any position in their respective conferences. Commissioner Silver selects the replacement for any player who is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player being replaced. Silver’s selection would join the team that selected the replaced player. The commissioner also has the power to create a special addition to the list, which he first did in 2019.
Coaches for each team are determined by standings two weeks before the All-Star Game. The coaching staff of the Eastern and Western leaders are paired with the captain of the respective conference. However, if the leading coaching staff coached in the previous All-Star Game, then the second-place coaching staff is selected.
The draft was held off-camera during its inaugural session in 2018, but was televised the following season. LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo made their selections live on TNT and agreed to the first trade of the All-Star Draft. (LeBron sent Russell Westbrook to Team Giannis, while Antetokounmpo sent Ben Simmons to Team LeBron.) The draft has continued to be televised on TNT since 2019.
The 2023 NBA All-Star Draft will air on Thursday, February 10.
2021: LeBron James, Kevin Durant | Full list | Draft Results: Team LeBron vs. Team Durant
2020: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo | Full list | Draft Results: Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis
2019: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo | Full list | Draft Results: Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis
2018: LeBron James, Stephen Curry | Full list | Draft Results: Team LeBron vs. Team Steph
NBA All-Star 2023 Key Dates
- January 27: All-Star starters announced
- February 3: All-Star reserves announced
- February 8: State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Contestants Announced
- February 10: All-Star Draft
- February 18-20: All-Star Weekend