Historically, this game would be a blowout by Team USA. However, international basketball, especially European basketball, is rapidly catching up to American basketball.
There are over 100 international players from 38 countries in the NBA today. Some of the best players in the league are not from the United States. The reigning MVP of the league, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is from Greece. In the globalized and interconnected world that we live in today, the playing field for basketball talent is leveling everywhere.
*assuming everyone is at full health*
Starters: Stephen Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis
Reserves: Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Karl-Anthony Towns
Starters: Ben Simmons, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, Joel Embiid
Reserves: Goran Dragic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert
Point Guard: Stephen Curry vs. Ben Simmons
This is a matchup of polar opposite play styles. The undisputed greatest shooter of all time in Stephen Curry versus arguably the worst shooter of all time in Ben Simmons. Both are All-Star caliber point guards who are capable of scoring and distributing with ease.
It will be hard for Ben Simmons to maximize his talents in this game due to the lack of shooting around him on the Team World roster. Luka and Giannis are primary ballhandlers as well.
Steph is able to run the point for Team USA as well as hit a three from anywhere within half-court. Whether Steph is controlling the ball or not, his shooting ability alongside his constant movement makes him a threat at all times.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Luka Doncic
Both Luka Doncic and James Harden are the primary ballhandlers for their respective teams. Coming into this game, they will both be handling the ball as well as taking spot-up threes. Harden is one of the highest volume shooters in the league, as is Luka. Both are excellent shooters for that matter.
While Harden is a seasoned veteran and Luka is a sophomore sensation, both will be huge contributors to their teams in similar ways. Being able to knock down triples and space the floor while the main ballhandlers work is what Harden and Luka bring to the table. They are both capable of exploding for forty points as well.
Small Forward: LeBron James vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
In a game overflowing with star power, these are the best players on their respective teams. Giannis and LeBron are the top two players in the 2020 MVP race, and the two best players in the league today.
LeBron will command the ball, and him barreling to the basket with Steph, Harden and KD waiting on the wings is virtually unstoppable. LeBron will have no problem getting his own, and he will be more than happy to keep all of his teammates involved.
The Greek Freak is looking to prove to everyone that he is the best player in the league and that he now wears the crown. Giannis is the best player in the NBA this season, and he will continue to bring his dominance and assertiveness to this game.
Standing 6’11” with a 7’3” wingspan, he is hard to stop. And as he continues to develop and improve his mid-range and three-point shot, all team USA will be able to do is pray he has a bad night.
Power Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Pascal Siakam
Kevin Durant has a very obvious advantage here. That is no disrespect to Pascal Siakam, who is having an excellent season this year. His Raptors are sitting pretty at 40-15, good for second in the Eastern Conference standings. He got his first All-Star bid this year as well, and he was a starter for Team Giannis.
However, Kevin Durant is just on another level. KD is a two-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, regular-season MVP, and a certified bucket with four NBA scoring titles. The man is just an animal. Not to mention Durant’s ability to space the floor and knock down a shot from anywhere with ease.
Both players will provide great additions to their teams. As Pascal Siakam continues to mature and grow his game, who knows where his ceiling is. We all know what Kevin Durant brings to the table.
Center: Anthony Davis vs. Joel Embiid
Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid are the two best centers in the NBA. They were also the first two picks in this years’ All-Star draft. Both centers shoot similarly from distance; and have versatile post-moves and footwork that allows them to dominate in the post.
Their physical authority basically cancels out, as the two will likely be defending one another. Both centers will have their usual point guards alongside them (LeBron James and Ben Simmons, respectively), allowing them to run lobs and pick-and-roll. In a game littered with spacing and pacing and three-point shooting, The Brow and The Process bring some good old-fashioned size to this game.
Bench vs. Bench
Both teams’ benches are deep and loaded with All-Star talent. Team USA’s bench, consisting of Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Karl-Anthony Towns, is full of 3-and-D guys, guards, and a spacing center in KAT.
Team World’s bench, who features Goran Dragic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert, is stacked with size and physicality.
While Team USA will likely play a more current style of basketball with drive-and-kick three-point shooting, Team World will look to capitalize on their size advantage and push the ball down low for some easy buckets.
Team World is not completely depleted of shooting; Bogdanovic and Hield are two of the NBA’s elite three-point shooters. Porzingis and Jokic are also serviceable three-point shooters, which will give Team World spacing to allow their ball handlers to get to work.
The benches of Team USA and Team World both serve their teams’ game-plans well and will be looking to make a splash while their starters take a breather.
What a great matchup this game would be. While Team USA arguably has more talent and more experience, Team World has an overwhelming amount of size. Luka Doncic is the only Team World starter who is shorter than 6’9”. Having Porzingis, Jokic and Gobert on the bench only add to their size.
Goran Dragic is an established veteran point guard capable of both getting a bucket and getting his teammates involved. Jamal Murray would play a similar role. Bogdanovic and Hield provide shooting that will be much needed if Team World wants to keep pace with Team USA.
On the other hand, Team USA boasts elite shooting all over the roster. The only word that describes LeBron James being able to drive and kick to a shooting arsenal of Curry, Harden, Durant, Thompson and Lillard is scary.
The Clippers duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, along with Jimmy Butler, gives Team USA otherworldly wing defense. This will make it tough for Team World to generate offense from the perimeter. Karl-Anthony Towns is a body that Team USA will need to put on the Team World big men.
Overall, this would be a great game. If anything, it would be a testament to how far international basketball has come in recent years. Team USA would most likely come out victorious, but it will take everything they have to beat a stacked Team World. There has been plenty of speculation and talks about this being the format of the All-Star game, and hopefully one day we get a full-strength Team USA vs. Team World match. With so much talent from the United States and so much talent from overseas, the true winner is the NBA.
Winner: Team USA vs. Team World 127-109
Team USA MVP: Steph Curry
Team World MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo