Earlier this week, the NBA announced that the 2017-18 NBA All Star Game would feature a new format. Rather than having a game between a team representing each conference, two captains will select teams from a pool of voted starters and reserves. The pool will still consist of an equal number of Eastern and Western Conference players. The voting process for both starters and reserves will also remain the same.
The draw of the new format is obvious. Allowing the players to select the teams opens the door for more storylines and match ups for the media to blow up for the event. Imagine the response to an All Star Game in which LeBron James and Russell Westbrook go toe to toe with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Aside from that, the new format also offers an interesting new conversation piece in relation to the All Star Game. With the players now choosing their teammates, surely some pairings will spark off-season trade or free agency rumors.
The one major fault I find with the recent reform is the lack of change to the selection of All Stars. With the teams no longer being separated by conference, I see no reason an equal number of All Stars from each conference should be selected. A total of 24 All Stars are voted in each year and with even more top players moving to the Western Conference this off-season, I find it hard to believe we are really watching the All Stars of the NBA if the Eastern Conference sends twelve players to the selection pool. Three of the Eastern All Stars from 2016-17 are now playing in the Western Conference, with one of the Western Conference All Stars moving to the East. That one Western Conference departure was made by former Jazz guard Gordon Hayward, now of the Boston Celtics, who was a first time All Star.
I find the NBA’s attempt to freshen up the All Star Game respectable, but the league needs to find a way to better showcase it’s top talent. The selection of players should fluctuate with the spread of talent across the league and the fan voting percentage could be adjusted as well. I understand wanting the fans to feel involved as much as possible, but decreasing the fan vote might let younger players, or players from smaller market teams, make the roster. Showcasing all of the league’s top talent could only increase popularity for more teams and benefit the league as a whole.