WASHINGTON – For one night, Luka Doncic will be teammates with his childhood hero, LeBron James.
James took the Mavericks’ point guard with his third pick in Thursday’s All-Star Draft and the two will be starting alongside each other on Feb. 16 at Chicago in the All-Star Game.
Going into the draft of players that would determine the sides, there were two schools of thought.
Either Doncic would be treated like royalty and be one a top pick by one of the captains – James or Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Or, as a first-time All-Star, he’d get the freeze-out treatment, left to languish while waiting to be one of the last (or maybe the final) pick of draft among the eight starters who would join the two top vote-getters before the reserves were picked.
In the end, it turned out to be neither.
Doncic was picked by James with his third choice – after the obvious pick of his LA Laker teammate Anthony Davis and the other LA All-Star Kawhi Leonard from the Clippers.
Doncic has missed the last four games with a sprained right ankle, the same injury that sidelined him for four games in December. James said he was hopeful that Doncic would be able to fulfill his starting spot.
For the season, the 6-7 point guard is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. He’s had 12 triple doubles this season and 20 for his career.
Doncic finished second in the Western Conference in fan balloting, narrowly losing the captain’s role to James.
Doncic made no secret leading up to the selection of the starters and reserves about what it would be like to play with James, instead of against him.
“It would be amazing,” Doncic said when he was named a starter two weeks ago. “Everybody knows what LeBron means to me. It would be special, for sure.”
For proof, just remember Doncic waiting outside the Lakers’ locker room last season to exchange jerseys with James.
On Thursday, James made sure the two would get to play together, even if it came after he took two LA players ahead of Doncic.
Starters (in order drafted): Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, James Harden.
Reserves: Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Domantas Sabonis.
Starters (in order drafted): Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakim, Kemba Walker, Trae Young.
Reserves: Khris Middleton, Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Brandon Ingram, Donovan Mitchell.