Giannis on Team LeBron's Starting 5: 'Yeah, It's over Guys'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 111-104. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is confident Team LeBron is heading toward a victory in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game after Thursday night's roster draft.

Antetokounmpo will join team captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers along with the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic and Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic in the starting lineup, which the two-time defending NBA MVP thinks seals the deal:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

“Yeah, it’s over guys.” Giannis’ reaction to Team LeBron’s starting 5 😂 (via @NBAonTNT) https://t.co/Mk0qzSWzaD

Team Durant, which won't have captain Kevin Durant as he recovers from a hamstring injury, is set to start Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) and Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers).

James explained there's no magic formula for picking a winning squad, though he's 3-0 since the format moved to player captains picking the rosters in 2018.

"I just try to pick players that can complement one another," James said on the TNT broadcast. "We're out on the floor, just try to play the game the right way. It's an All-Star Game, so it's going to be some shenanigans out there, but for the majority of the game, we just play the right way and try to get a win."

One of the night's most surprising moments came at the end of the draft when the two players left on the board were the representatives from the NBA-leading Utah Jazz, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

James defended himself and Durant, jokingly chalking it up to the franchise's history.

"I just want to say something, because there's no slander to the Utah Jazz," he said. "But you guys got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton were, we never would have picked those guys. Never."

Although James' starting lineup does look a bit stronger on paper, Team Durant features an explosive group of bench scorers, led by James Harden.

Given the condensed regular-season schedule, the game's head coaches—the Jazz's Quin Snyder for Team LeBron and the Sixers' Doc Rivers for Team Durant—are probably going to spread the minutes out as evenly as possible with all 12 players on both sides seeing plenty of run.

So it's likely the starting lineups will only be out there together for the first couple of minutes. LeBron's starting unit is almost assuredly going to return for crunch time, but the Durant group may go with some small-ball looks during the "Elam Ending" format as it tries to generate some extra offense.

Tip off for the All-Star Game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta is scheduled for Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.