2023 NBA All-Star Game score: Jayson Tatum breaks scoring record, wins MVP; LeBron James' streak ends
The Celtics star topped Anthony Davis' mark by scoring 55 points for Team Giannis
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game is officially in the books as Team Giannis has taken down Team LeBron by the score of 184-175 to hand the league's all-time scoring champion his first loss as an All-Star Game captain. Prior to tonight, James was a perfect 5-0 since the game had changed formats to allow the two leading vote-getters to serve as captains and choose their own teams. In the end, Jayson Tatum stole the show as the Celtics star earned MVP honors after breaking Anthony Davis' All-Star Game scoring record with 55 points in the victory.
Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Lauri Markkanen and Ja Morant started alongside LeBron and Giannis. Damian Lillard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jaylen Brown highlighted the list of reserves. In the end, it was Damian Lillard who was taken first overall by Team Giannis during the pre-game player draft with Team LeBron making Anthony Edwards their first selection. The full rosters for the game can be found below:
|Team LeBron||Team Giannis|
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The All-Star Game capped off an eventful weekend in Salt Lake City. Jose Alvarado of the Pelicans was named MVP of the Rising Stars Game on Friday night before Mac McClung stole the show at Saturday night's Dunk Contest. Tatum ultimately put the bow on All-Star Weekend with his record-setting performance to close out a successful celebration of the game's elite.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday's game.
1. Some players are better suited for the ASG than others
Luka Doncic, a starter in yet another All-Star Game, scored just four points on Sunday for Team LeBron. That drags down his All-Star scoring average, which was at a robust eight points per All-Star Game before this one. Nikola Jokic also scored four points, and he had a game-worst minus-16 plus-minus. "I am not meant for this game," Jokic said after the game. He raised an interesting point.
Is there a template for what sort of players tend to thrive in this game? Apparently, yes. Take Damian Lillard, who averaged 18 points per All-Star Game before Sunday and put up another 26 for Team Giannis tonight. Kyrie Irving put up a similar 32 points, and he won this game's MVP award in 2014. It seems as though your best bet to thrive in this game is to be a small, athletic guard that can make 3-pointers in bunches.
It makes sense intuitively. This is a game about fast-paced entertainment value. Doncic and Jokic like to play at their own, slower pace. They produce plenty of highlights, but this setting just isn't ideal for them.
2. The new trend for injured stars?
We witnessed something interesting in the opening moments of the All-Star Game. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a captain, scored one quick dunk, committed an intentional foul, and then exited the game. That was seemingly the plan coming into the night. Antetokounmpo is dealing with a wrist injury. Yet it not only left Team Giannis shorthanded but also deprived fans of one of the game's main draws.
That is likely one of the reasons his status was not announced before the game. In theory, it would have made more sense for the NBA to simply replace Antetokounmpo with another high-profile player who was at All-Star Weekend for another event. It didn't do so, and the explanations are all relatively nefarious. Aside from wanting to have Antetokounmpo as a draw, it simply makes sense for the league to limit the number of players who appear in an All-Star Game because players with an All-Star appearance on their resume tend to use that as leverage in contract negotiations. Some even have All-Star incentives in their contracts.
There were other injured players that were ruled out well in advance of Sunday's All-Star Game. Antetokounmpo's injury came on Wednesday. That's theoretically plenty of time to find a replacement, yet the league chose not to do it. It's worth wondering at this stage if this will be the norm moving forward. Aside from hurting the actual All-Star product, it poses serious problems for a league that is now heavily invested in the sports betting industry. If the NBA wants to drive interest through gambling, having fans bet on Antetokounmpo to win MVP or on his team to win the game (which it ultimately did) might not be the best look. Given those implications, the league probably needs to be a bit more transparent about things like this moving forward.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
Your Ultimate Guide to Every Day in Sports
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
3. The All-Star format desperately needs tweaking
Nearly half of the shots taken on Sunday were 3-pointers (126 of 255). The combination of Jayson Tatum, Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell combined for roughly 62 percent of Team Giannis' shot attempts (77-of-123). That should give you a rough idea of the sort of game we watched on Sunday. Both teams walked the ball up the court and either jacked up a 3-pointer or walked into a dunk or layup. The few players that got hot monopolized the ball and turned the game into what was functionally a 3-point contest.
The All-Star Game is almost always like this to an extent. Players aren't going to put energy into defending in an exhibition. If they can avoid running the floor, they're going to. But it never felt more apparent than it did on Sunday, with so many big-name players out. Take a glance at your social media outlet of choice and you'll see fans complaining about what a boring game we just witnessed.
The NBA tried to fix this by adding the Elam Ending a few years ago. It gave close All-Star Games an exciting ending but did little to address the problems that plague the first three quarters. At this point, the All-Star Game hardly even resembles a typical game of basketball, and if that continues, it's worth asking what non-financial purpose the event even serves. It might be time to do away with the traditional game itself and come up with something that engages the fans a bit more. Sunday was supposed to be the league's showcase of its best and brightest. Instead, it was a lazy shootout with limited star power and viewing appeal.