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How are the NBA All-Star reserves determined?

Ahead of the 2023 NBA All-Stars game, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to lead the voting for captain of their respective conferences.

Ahead of the 2023 NBA All-Stars game, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to lead the voting for captain of their respective conferences.
Patrick McDermottGetty

With the top vote-getters standing at 6.5 million votes and 5.9 million votes for LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo respectively, the two team captains seem to be all but set. Once voting closes at 11:59 pm ET on Saturday, then the teams will start to take form.

NBA All-Stars 2023: the team picks

It’s a mid-season game that’s been going since 1951 but it is only in the last few years, since 2017 to be precise, that a draft selection system has determined the teams. Prior to that it was a simple case of the superstars of Eastern vs Western Conferences, but a lack of competitiveness in those forced a revamp.

How does the All-Star draft work?

All-Star voting via the official NBA site provides us with our two captains for the teams. Whoever gets most votes gets the first pick in the draft. After that, it’s turn about to select from the 22 players in the All-Star field - choosing first from the eight starters and then from the 14 reserves available.

Although no restrictions are placed on Conference affiliation during the draft, this does affect the voting process. Here’s how the NBA explains that.

‘Conference affiliation still matters when it comes to voting, with 12 players from both the East and West earning spots. The 10 starters – two guards and three front court players per conference – are chosen by a combination of fans (50% of the vote), current players (25%) and media (25%). The players and media were granted a vote in 2017 – only fans selected the starting lineup before then.

‘The 30 NBA coaches select the 14 reserves, voting for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players at any position in their respective conferences. Commissioner Silver selects the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. Silver’s selection would join the team that drafted the replaced player. The commissioner also has the power to create a special roster addition, which he did for the first time in 2019.’

Regarding the coaches, the leaders of the top teams in each conference two weeks before the game are handed the position for their respective region. The only exception to this is if that coach was involved in the previous year’s All-Star Game, in which case the second-placed coach steps up.

All-Star rosters from draft

Once the votes are counted, the starters and captains will be revealed on Thursday, January 26. After the starters are named, the NBA coaches will vote to determine the seven All Star reserves for each conference. The results of that vote will be announced on Thursday, February 2. And once all of this has taken place, the two team captains will draft their own teams.

This year, the All Star Game will take place in Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena. The festivities will be held the weekend of Friday, February 17 to Sunday, February 19, with the All-Star Game being the climax.