For the first round of the All-Star draft, the two former MVPs alternated picks among their fellow starters. With the first pick, James drafted reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. James’ Lakers frontcourt mate Anthony Davis will of course be absent as he continues to rehabilitate strained right calf injury.
A strained left hamstring will keep Durant off the floor during the actual All-Star game on Sunday, as well, but he still had the honor of making picks by benefit of being one of the two players receiving the most fan votes, along with James. Durant chose his fellow Net Kyrie Irving with the No. 2 pick.
When it came time to make picks for the second round of 2021 All-Star reserves, Durant drafted his other All-Star Nets teammate, James Harden. Meanwhile, James chose Damian Lillard, also his first pick from among the reserves in 2020.
Rudy Gobert (Team LeBron) and Donovan Mitchell (Team Durant), both players for the team with the best record in the NBA, the 27-9 Jazz, were the last two picks of the draft. James addressed the decision from his perspective on the broadcast, as recounted by Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“I just want to say something, because there’s no slander to the Utah Jazz,” James said. “But you guys got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as great as [Hall of Fame Jazz power forward] Karl Malone and [Hall of Fame Jazz point guard] John Stockton were, we never would have picked those guys. Never.”
Here’s a full recap: