Stephen Curry picked James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s top two scorers, and grabbed his other two Golden State teammates in the selections Thursday.
The draft was not televised, and neither James nor Curry would reveal who they chose first when they were interviewed on TNT when the rosters were unveiled.
James was among those who said fans should have watched the proceedings and his decision to draft Irving could have made for a must-see moment. The point guard asked out of Cleveland last summer and the Cavaliers traded him to conference rival Boston.
“Kyrie was available on the draft board, he’s one of the best point guards we have in our league,” James said. “It was an easy choice for me.”
James and Curry will be the captains Feb. 18 in Los Angeles for the first NBA All-Star Game that doesn’t use the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format.
James had the No. 1 pick as a result of earning the most votes in fan balloting, while Curry had the first pick in the reserve round after the starters were selected. He passed on Russell Westbrook, the NBA MVP who instead ended up on Team LeBron.
The league is hoping that trying something new will bring back some old-school intensity that has been absent from the last two games, when the West nearly scored 200 points.
James also took the New Orleans duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. His other reserves are Beal, Wall, Cleveland teammate Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge of San Antonio, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Kristaps Porzingis of New York.
After taking starters Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto, Curry rounded out his roster with Warriors teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Portland’s Damian Lillard, and Boston’s Al Horford.
The league was widely criticized for not televising the draft, a decision that was made to protect players from any embarrassment over being chosen last.
“The fans should have been a part of this for sure and everybody who loves the game,” James said, “but it’s the first year and I think it’s going to be pretty cool going into the future.”
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