NBA All-Star Game 2017 Rosters: East and West Starters, Reserves and Analysis

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2017

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 18:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder point in different directions after the ball went out of bounds at ORACLE Arena on January 18, 2017 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Let’s cut to the chase about the NBA All-Star Game’s storylines. We’re all waiting to see how forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook interact as teammates for the first time since blowing a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

It sounds reality television-inspired, but the stars on the court will take a backseat to the awkwardness between former teammates. As for the actual exhibition game, we’ll see two new All-Stars on each squad.

Milwaukee Bucks forward and frequent ball-handler, Giannis Antetokounmpo will start in his first appearance. Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker debuts in the star-driven game as a reserve.

On the Western Conference roster, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward will come off the bench as first-time All-Stars. What can we expect on the court? How should Western Conference head coach Steve Kerr handle bitter rivals forced to play nice for the spectators?

Eastern Conference All-Stars
StartersPlayerTeamAll-Star Appearances
FCGiannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks1
FCJimmy ButlerChicago Bulls3
FCLeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers13
BCDeMar DeRozanToronto Raptors3
BCKyrie IrvingCleveland Cavaliers4
ReservesPlayerTeamAll-Star Appearances
FCPaul GeorgeIndiana Pacers4
FCKevin LoveCleveland Cavaliers4
BCKyle LowryToronto Raptors3
FCPaul MillsapAtlanta Hawks4
BCIsaiah ThomasBoston Celtics2
BCKemba WalkerCharlotte Hornets1
BCJohn WallWashington Wizards4
NBA.com

The Eastern Conference All-Stars, coached by Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics, don’t carry as much drama as their opponents. Interestingly, we may see who’s the better ball distributor between Kyrie Irving and Antetokounmpo. Both players average a little more than five assists per game.

LeBron James will start the event, but it’s highly unlikely he plays half the minutes. The Cleveland Cavaliers have a slight 2.5-game lead over the Celtics in the regular-season standings. James has a bigger goal in mind than showing off in his 13th All-Star Game. We’ll see a couple of dunks and one chase-down block before King James watches the rest of the action perched on the bench.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 14: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors dunks the ball past Nik Stauskas #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers in the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center on December 14, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Raptors defeated the
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Guard DeMar DeRozan should ignite the crowd with at least two thunderous dunks. Whether he plays in the Olympics, the regular season or a relaxed environment such as the All-Star Game, he’s going to attempt to put someone on a poster.

The smaller guards, Walker and Isaiah Thomas will steal the show. The former comes into the game as a newcomer to the All-Star spotlight; the latter steps onto the court with a chip on his shoulder at all times.

Stevens will likely allow Thomas to shine if the game is close in the fourth quarter. The 5’9” point guard has lit up the scoreboard in the final quarter for the entire season. He’s going to be the reason the East either win the game or remain competitive once the play reaches a serious level.

Western Conference All-Stars
StartersPlayerTeamAll-Star Appearances
FCAnthony DavisNew Orleans Pelicans4
FCKevin DurantGolden State Warriors8
FCKawhi LeonardSan Antonio Spurs2
BCStephen CurryGolden State Warriors4
BCJames HardenHouston Rockets5
ReservesPlayerTeamAll-Star Appearances
FCDeMarcus CousinsSacramento Kings3
FCMarc GasolMemphis Grizzlies3
FCDraymond GreenGolden State Warriors2
BCGordon HaywardUtah Jazz1
FCDeAndre JordanLos Angeles Clippers1
BCKlay ThompsonGolden State Warriors3
BCRussell WestbrookOklahoma City Thunder6
NBA.com

Kerr will have four of his own players to manage in the game, two of which are in the starting lineup. The NBA All-Star Game is a spectacle, right? We have the pleasure of watching superstars who normally wouldn't team up, play together in a glorified pickup game.

Why not have a floor lineup featuring Durant, Westbrook, Stephen Curry, James Harden with Draymond Green for an extra kick to the storyline?

The fans would see a throwback Oklahoma City Thunder team along with a distance shooter in Curry and an interesting character in Green. Kerr should utilize this group to break the ice and capitalize on the entertainment value. No one plays a serious game until the fourth quarter anyway.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder hits the floor going after a loose ball in the first half against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.  NOTE TO USER: User expressl
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Don’t expect the Warriors head coach to play any of his four guys in heavy minutes as the season winds down over the next two months. Jordan may not win the Slam Dunk Contest, but he should take in the moment as an All-Star for the first time with some poster-worthy dunks on his Eastern adversaries. Gordon will also likely log big minutes as he enjoys the experience.

With all the firepower on the roster and forward Kawhi Leonard tightening up on defense in the fourth quarter, the Western Conference should win the star-studded event. The game’s MVP honors will go to Westbrook. Why? He only plays in one gear—fast and furious. He’s also liable to stick it to Durant with any possible chance.

Final Prediction: East 141, West 146

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