NBA All-Star Game: Ranking Giannis-Jokic and the Best Combinations to Come out of the Draft

The NBA All-Star Game gives fans a chance to experience something they can’t find anywhere else on a court. Even in the era of superteams, the All-Star Game allows future Hall of Famers to team up with one another for one special night of the year.

The 2022 showdown between Team LeBron and Team Durant is no exception. Last week, captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant drafted 11 players each for Sunday’s matchup in Cleveland.

While both squads are understandably loaded with star power, the draft birthed a few intriguing combinations that will make the All-Star Game even more entertaining.

4. Ja Morant and Joel Embiid — Team Durant

Even though Durant won’t be playing in the game, the Brooklyn Nets star still landed two of the most exciting players to watch this season.

Joel Embiid is the likely MVP winner if the season ended today. Entering Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers big man is averaging a league-leading 29.5 points to go with 11.2 rebounds and a career-high 4.5 assists per game.

Embiid isn’t the only MVP candidate in KD’s starting five. Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant is set to make the most of his first All-Star appearance. The third-year guard is hitting career numbers across the board, averaging 26.4 points on 49.3% shooting.

Both Embiid and Morant are highly watchable, entertaining players. Not only that, but few players have garnered more positive headlines for their on-court play all season. Seeing the two of them as All-Star teammates will be a memorable experience right off the bat.

3. LeBron James and Darius Garland — Team LeBron

The King’s return to Cleveland will be emotional as always. Fortunately, he made sure to draft Darius Garland to help smooth things over.

Garland, 22, has become the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the post-LeBron era. In his third year, the first-time All-Star is averaging a career-best 20.1 points on 47.4% shooting. He’s also dishing out 8.0 assists a night, making him a great option to set up LeBron and others for some highlight-reel plays.

Speaking of LeBron, the Los Angeles Lakers star is always a must-watch. Even in his 19th season, the King is dominating to the tune of 29.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game. Although the Lakers aren’t anything to write home about, the King is as good as ever.

When James and Garland take the court as teammates, it will represent Cleveland’s transition from old All-Star to new. Even if you’re not a Cavaliers fan, that will be cool to witness.

2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, and Andrew Wiggins — Team Durant

It’s always fun when two former teammates reunite in the All-Star Game. But on Sunday, three former teammates will play together in what is sure to be a bittersweet experience for Minnesota Timberwolves fans.

Durant selected Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns to his team last week. The three were T-Wolves teammates from 2015-17 up until LaVine was traded to the Chicago Bulls. Three years later, Wiggins was shipped to the Golden State Warriors.

All-Star Games haven’t been regular occurrences for this trio. Towns leads the way with three All-Star appearances, playing in his first one since 2019 after averaging 24.1 points and 9.6 rebounds. LaVine is making his second trip after debuting last season, averaging 24.6 points for the surprising Bulls. Then there’s Wiggins, the 2014 top pick who won a starting spot after averaging 17.9 points on a career-high 48.3% shooting.

Just a few years ago, Towns, LaVine, and Wiggins were on the rise for an inferior team. Sunday, they’ll reunite as All-Stars in what is sure to be a fun trip down memory lane.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic — Team LeBron

With the first pick of the All-Star Draft, James selected Giannis Antetokounmpo. Three selections later, he rounded out his starting lineup with Nikola Jokic. The King not only brought back two of his All-Star teammates from last season, but he also formed the most intriguing combination of this year’s All-Star Game.

No player is going to try harder this Sunday than Antetokounmpo, the reigning All-Star MVP. The Milwaukee Bucks star is averaging 29.0 points and 11.2 rebounds in his sixth straight All-Star season. You can expect the Greek Freak to put up some big numbers alongside teammates like James and Stephen Curry.

If you thought Giannis was a matchup nightmare, now try dealing with Jokic. Last year’s league MVP is as good, if not better than he was a season ago. Through 51 games, the Denver Nuggets center is averaging 25.8 points with 7.9 assists and a career-high 13.7 boards.

Antetokounmpo and Jokic are two of the game’s truly unique superstars given their size and all-around dominance in multiple areas. Now imagine them on the same team, cleaning up every missed shot while making highlight-reel passes and finishes left and right.

Even on a team led by the great LeBron James, no combo will be more entertaining than Giannis and the Joker.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and accurate as of Feb. 15, 2021.

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