The Utah Jazz own the best record in the NBA at the All-Star break, but their two participants were selected last when sides were divvied up for the league’s midseason showcase event Sunday night in Atlanta.
Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were the final two names on the draft board and were the last picks selected by captains Kevin Durant and LeBron James, respectively.
“I just want to say something. There is no slander to the Utah Jazz,” James said on TNT’s selection show Thursday night. “You guys got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah.
“Even as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton was, we would never have picked those guys in video games. Never.”
The Jazz (27-9) lead the Phoenix Suns by 2.5 games and James’ Lakers by 3.5 games in the Western Conference at the break. Mitchell is averaging 24.7 points and 5.4 assists per game, while Gobert is averaging 14.2 points and 13.1 rebounds.
Durant, who won’t be playing Sunday due to a hamstring injury, selected both of his Brooklyn teammates, Kyrie Irving and James Harden and Knicks forward Julius Randle. Among James’ selections were reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and longtime pal Chris Paul.
Starters: Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum.
Reserves: Harden, Mitchell, Randle, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic.
Starters: James, Antetokounmpo, Curry, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic.
Reserves: Gobert, Paul, Damain Lillard, Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Domantas Sabonis.