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The 2018 NBA All-Star Game will no longer have an East vs. West format

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NBA: All Star Game-Eastern at Western Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA announced on Tuesday that the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles will feature a player-run draft in an effort to increase competitiveness. This means that there will no longer be and Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference team format and it sets the stage up for some intriguing narratives on February 18, 2018 when the game takes place.

How does the team selection work?

The team selection, at least in the beginning in the beginning has no changes from last year:

“Starter” selection

NBA fans, media, and players will still vote for the starters in the game. However, they will no longer be starting for the East or West. The fan vote is worth 50%, while the media and player votes are 25% each. There will be five “starters” from each conference.

Reserve selections

NBA head coaches pick seven players from each conference to round out the lineups. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver picks injury reserves.

Coach selections

The coaches from the Eastern and Western Conference with the best regular season records two weeks before the All-Star Game will coach this game. They will be paired with the player captain of his conference, which is in our next section.

Player Captains

This is the first year that the NBA All-Star Game will have captains. The Eastern and Western Conference’s leading fan vote recipients will be team captains of two different squads.

The player captains draft their teammates

The two captains get to draft the 22 (or perhaps more) players who were voted in as “starters” and reserves. Basically, we could see situations where Bradley Beal and John Wall are on different teams, or when Russell Westbrook and John Wall are on the same team.

And depending on how the draft goes, this also means that one of the two teams could have a “starter” who doesn’t start in the All-Star Game.

Why is this happening?

In short, the All-Star Game has become noncompetitive in recent seasons. We’re not seeing a true product on the floor where guys are giving it their all. So, this new format may make this game a bit more competitive. After all, we’ll see two groups of captain-selected teams against each other. It also gives us more narratives to write about when a captain selects or doesn’t select a teammate.

Can John Wall be a captain for the 2018 All-Star Game?

If the NBA kept the current format of the All-Star Game, I think Wall should be on track to be a starter for the second time in his career. In fact, he will likely be voted in a starter this season barring a setback in the Wizards’ performance.

Though the Eastern Conference’s complexion has changed dramatically, it’s going to be tough to see Wall win the Eastern Conference fan vote when LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving is now playing for the Celtics. Therefore, I doubt we’ll see a Team John Wall vs. Team Kevin Durant next winter. That said, I think there’s a higher chance that Wall will start this game, regardless of whether he is voted in as a starter or not. That is because of the new draft format for this game.

Final thoughts

I’m intrigued by this new All-Star format. It should lead to some interesting narratives, but I’m also not so sure how much this will truly affect competitiveness in the game. I get that players can appreciate that fans want to see a more competitive game, but the players don’t want to get hurt in an exhibition either.