Kevin Durant declared he was not surprised to be selected by LeBron James with the first pick for the NBA All-Star Game.
For the second successive year, James made sure he will play alongside Durant in the league’s exhibition fixture, taking the Golden State Warriors forward at the start of Thursday’s televised draft.
Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden complete the starting five for Team LeBron, who will take on Team Giannis at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte on February 17.
Asked about James’ decision following Golden State’s 117-107 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday, Durant said: “What else is he supposed to do?”
The 2014 MVP was a little more forthcoming on his thoughts about the new-style selection process and also poked fun at rival captain Giannis Antetokounmpo for his selections.
While James went first when choosing the starters, Antetokounmpo – given the honour of leading a team after topping the All-Star voting in the Eastern Conference – had first option when it came to the reserves.
The pair also completed the first All-Star trade, as LeBron sent Russell Westbrook to Team Giannis in exchange for Ben Simmons.
“I think it’s cool. It’s great that the fans get to be more involved with it, the excitement of it,” Durant said of the draft format, which was introduced in 2018 but broadcast live for the first time this year. “To have those guys picking teams, it’s kind of self-explanatory, but it’s pretty cool to see, because it hasn’t happened before.
“No matter where you get picked, it’s nothing but respect. It’s just good to be an All-Star.”
Antetokounmpo selected Steph Curry, Kemba Walker, Paul George and Joel Embiid to join him as starters on Team Giannis, but Durant feels the Greek’s drafting skills require some work.
“Giannis is not from here, so I understand next year he’ll be better picking his team,” he joked.