The NBA All-Star Game, which dates back to 1951, has always been a midseason showdown between the best players from each conference, showcasing the NBA’s biggest stars in an East vs. West format. Just this century alone, some of the NBA’s all-time greats, like Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Kevin Durant have taken home the All-Star MVP Award.
In 2017, however, 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 sparked a new era of All-Star Game competitiveness during its first implementation at the 2018 All-Star Game.
The format has continued ever since.
— NBA (@NBA) February 11, 2022
How The All-Star Draft Works
• The process starts with the captains, who are determined by the All-Star voting results. The leader for each conference gets to select his squad and have the team named after him (ex. Team LeBron vs. Team Durant).
• The leading vote-getter in the All-Star balloting process is awarded the first pick in the All-Star Draft. For the 2022 All-Star Game, LeBron James picks first.
• The captains take turns drafting 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 still matters when it comes to voting, with 12 players from both the East and West earning spots. The 10 starters – two guards and three frontcourt players per conference – are chosen by a combination of fans (50% of the vote), current players (25%) and media (25%). The players and media were granted a vote in 2017 – only fans selected the starting lineup before then.
The 30 NBA coaches select the 14 reserves, voting for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players at any position in their respective conferences. Commissioner Silver 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. Silver’s selection would join the team that drafted the replaced player. The commissioner also has the power to create a special roster addition, which he did for the first time in 2019.
The coaches for each team are determined by the standings two weeks before the All-Star Game. The coaching staff for the East and West leaders is matched with the captain from the respective conference. However, if the leading coaching staff coached the previous All-Star game, then the second place coaching staff is selected.
In 2019, the All-Star Draft was televised for the first time.
The draft was held off camera during its inaugural session in 2018 but became televised the following season. LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo made their selections live on TNT and agreed to the first All-Star Draft trade. (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.