Giannis Antetokounmpo knows firsthand what an effective general manager LeBron James can be. The two were opposing captains in the previous two All-Star Drafts, and on both occasions, James built the winning team. All in all, LeBron is 3-0 as an All-Star captain, and if Antetokounmpo’s reaction to hearing LeBron’s roster on Thursday is any indication, he expects him to remain undefeated this weekend.
Unlike the past two seasons, Antetokounmpo was not the top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference this season. That honor belonged to Kevin Durant, so Antetokounmpo was pushed into the draft pool like the rest of his All-Star counterparts. Happy not to have to play against him, James scooped Antetokounmpo up with the No. 1 overall pick in the All-Star Draft and proceeded to add Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic with his next three selections. Giannis was pleased with the results. Upon hearing his new teammates for Sunday’s All-Star Game, he proclaimed “it’s over, guys.”
Antetokounmpo had not heard who would be joining him on Team LeBron when he was asked about it at his post-game press conference Thursday. When he was told that he would be playing with Curry, Jokic and Doncic, he responded in disbelief by asking, “That’s the starting five?” When a reporter confirmed that yes, indeed, it was, Antetokounmpo made his declaration of confidence.
“Yea, it’s over guys,” Antetokounmpo said. “Me, LeBron, Luka, Jokic and Steph? Man, that’s a good starting five. That’s a good starting five.”
Betting odds have not yet been posted for the All-Star Game, but if prior draft results are any indication, Team LeBron has a significant advantage. Prior to Durant, Antetokounmpo and Curry are the only two other players to have earned captaincies in the All-Star Game alongside LeBron. Curry and Antetokounmpo selected each other in the first round in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and had Curry been available in 2020, Antetokounmpo may well have selected him again. With Durant himself missing the All-Star Game due to injury, this season presents what is likely the biggest talent gap between the two starting fives in the All-Star Draft era. Of course, this is still a team of All-Stars we’re talking about here, so Giannis shouldn’t be overly confident. At this level, either team is more than capable of pulling off the victory.