Since 1951, the NBA has showcased its stars annually at the NBA All-Star Game.
The selection process, roster construction and format have evolved over time, most significantly in 2018, when the NBA eliminated the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format.
Here’s a look at how the All-Star selection process has changed through the years:
- For the first 24 NBA All-Star Games, a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters were responsible for selecting each Conference’s starting five and three bench players. Coaches filled out the rest of the roster, which grew from 10 players to 12 players in 1961.
- Until 1973, each NBA team had to be represented with at least one player and a maximum of three players.
- Fans were first given the opportunity to vote for NBA All-Star starters during the 1974-75 season. The seven reserves for each team were picked by each conference’s respective head coaches.
- With teams playing smaller than in the past, the NBA modified its voting process before the 2012-13 season to eliminate the “center” designation and replace it with three “frontcourt” spots. Previous ballots allowed a voter to select two guards, two forwards and a center.
- In 2016-17, current players and media joined the fans in the voting process. Fans account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters, while players and media account for 25 percent each. Once votes are tallied, players are ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups. Each player’s score is calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fans, players and media. The two guards and three frontcourt players with the best score in each conference are named starters. Fan votes serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score.
NBA All-Star Draft Era
- The NBA revamped the All-Star Game format in 2018. Instead of East vs. West, two captains pick the teams from a pool of 24 players who were voted in by fans, media and players. The captains are the All-Star starters who earn the most fan votes in their respective conferences. Alternating picks, the captains draft the eight remaining players from the starter pool in the first round and then all 14 players from the reserve pool in the second round, making selections without regard to a player’s conference affiliation or position.
- LeBron James and Stephen Curry were the first captains for the NBA All-Star Draft (Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen). James again earned captain honors in 2019, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo (Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis).
- The NBA commissioner selects the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. If a replaced player is a starter, the head coach of that team would choose a new starter.
- The commissioner also has the power to make special team roster additions, as Adam Silver did in 2019 to honor the legendary careers of Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.