NBA All-Star 2020

2020 All-Star Player Draft

LeBron, Giannis divvy up rosters for All-Star Draft

First Round (Starters)

1. Anthony Davis (Team LeBron)

2. Joel Embiid (Team Giannis)

3. Kawhi Leonard (Team LeBron)

4. Pascal Siakam (Team Giannis)

5. Luka Doncic (Team LeBron)

6. Kemba Walker (Team Giannis)

7. James Harden (Team LeBron)

8. Trae Young (Team Giannis)

Second Round (Reserves)

9. Khris Middleton (Team Giannis)

10. Damian Lillard (Team LeBron)

11. Bam Adebayo (Team Giannis)

12. Ben Simmons (Team LeBron)

13. Rudy Gobert (Team Giannis)

14. Nikola Jokic (Team LeBron)

15. Jimmy Butler (Team Giannis)

16. Jayson Tatum (Team LeBron)

17. Kyle Lowry (Team Giannis)

18. Chris Paul (Team LeBron)

19. Brandon Ingram (Team Giannis)

20. Russell Westbrook (Team LeBron)

21. Donovan Mitchell (Team Giannis)

22. Domantas Sabonis (Team LeBron)

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, James Harden

Reserves: Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Domantas Sabonis

Team Giannis

Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, Trae Young

Reserves: Khris Middleton, Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert, Kyle Lowry, Brandon Ingram, Donovan Mitchell

* * *

ATLANTA — The last time they got together for the All-Star Player Draft, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo went off the cuff, choosing sides for the showcase event of All-Star Weekend in a casual, nothing-to-lose manner.

The second time around, however, was done by the book … well, the book and the cheat sheet.

Antetokounmpo brought his book and James his scratch pad, and both had their ideal draft order and picks slotted accordingly.

Both stars made sure family ties were maintained, each choosing one of their own teammates for the squads that will compete at the 69th All-Star Game on Feb. 16th at Chicago’s United Center. But they also cooked up a few surprises.

TNT’s Ernie Johnson suspected that both team captains had done their homework this time around, and asked them about it before the first pick.

“I’ve got it all right here,” Antetokounmpo said, tapping his giant hand on his book.

“I’ve got my list right here sitting on my lap,” James said, “so I’m ready to go.”

James kicked off Thursday’s draft, conducted in front of TNT’s cameras for the second straight year, by selecting his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick.

Antetokounmpo countered with his “African brother” Joel Embiid, spotlighting the game’s global reach, as the son of Nigerian emigrés selected a Cameroon native. LeBron fired back immediately by selecting his Los Angeles — and Staples Center — rival, Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers), with Antetokounmpo then quickly taking his second “African brother” in Toronto’s Pascal Siakam. James interrupted Antetokounmpo’s international plans by taking Dallas star Luka Doncic with his third pick.

Expressing a desire to make sure he added someone “that’s going to pass it,” Giannis grabbed Boston’s Kemba Walker instead of Houston’s James Harden, whom LeBron pounced on with his fourth and final pick of the first round. Antetokounmpo rounded out his starting unit with Atlanta’s Trae Young.

Antetokounmpo promised his Bucks teammate Khris Middleton last season that he’d be his first pick in the second round, but made no commitments this time around … and then picked Middleton anyway. James chose Portland’s Damian Lillard with his first pick of the second round, figuring that “Dame Time” is “all the time.”

Miami’s Bam Adebayo was the next pick for Team Giannis. LeBron followed by taking Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, getting the big guard for the second straight year, without having to work a post-draft trade this time.

“That trade cost me the game last year,” Antetokounmpo said.

Antetokounmpo went international again with his next pick, tabbing two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (Utah). James fired back with a big of his own in Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who was the All-NBA first team center last season.

“The U.S. versus the world would be a good game,” said TNT’s Charles Barkley, suggesting that we could see even more dramatic tweaks to the All-Star Game format in years ahead.

Miami’s Jimmy Butler, who had a strong case for a starting spot, was the next pick for Team Giannis, followed by Boston first-time All-Star Jayson Tatum for Team LeBron. Citing the need for a good locker room guy, Antetokounmpo clenched his teeth and picked Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, who “cost me a trip to The Finals.” James followed that up with a like-minded veteran point guard in his Banana Boat compatriot Chris Paul (Oklahoma City).

“He took the bulldog of the East,” James said, “and I’m going with the bulldog of the West.”

New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram was the next pick for Team Giannis, with LeBron grabbing “Mr. Why Not?” — Houston’s Russell Westbrook — with his next pick. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell was the final pick for Team Giannis and Indiana’s Damantas Sabonis was the final pick for Team LeBron.

James and Antetokounmpo left the trade business to the league’s front offices, which were collectively working under the pressure of Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline.

Even before the draft started, TNT’s Kenny Smith crowned James the winner.

“Giannis, I will say this about LeBron,” Smith said, “he has been a better general manager than you because the guy he picked first last year is playing with him … I’m just stating the obvious.”

Barkley, of course, wasn’t about to let Smith get the last word.

“Yeah, but if you remember last year, Giannis accused him of tampering,” Barkley said.

Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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