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James picks Durant first for All-Star game

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BY Agence France-Presse

LeBron James opted for Golden State star Kevin Durant with the first pick of the All-Star draft on Thursday.

James, who will lead a team against fellow All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo’s line-up in Charlotte on February 17, assembled a formidable looking starting line-up.

After choosing Durant first, James then added former Cleveland team-mate Kyrie Irving to his team.

In-form Toronto star Kawhi Leonard was picked third by James before he selected reigning MVP James Harden with his fourth pick.

New Orleans Pelicans ace Anthony Davis — linked to a move to the Los Angeles Lakers before the trade deadline closed Thursday — headed James’ reserves.

Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal completed the squad.

James then added close friend Dwyane Wade with the NBA’s “special selection” in the draft, which was televised this year for the first time.

Rival captain Antetokounmpo meanwhile selected Durant’s Golden State team-mate Stephen Curry with the second overall pick.

The Milwaukee Bucks star then selected Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before adding Paul George and Kemba Walker.

Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic and Kyle Lowry made up the reserves.

Antetokounmpo added Dirk Nowitzki as his special selection.

In a surprise move, the two captains then agreed to a trade, with James swapping Oklahoma City Thunder star Westbrook for Ben Simmons after the draft.

James proposed the move in order to get Westbrook and Embiid on the same side.

“I know Ben Simmons is your guy so I’ll do it,” Antetokounmpo said.

All Star Squads:

Team Lebron:

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden; Reserves: Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal:

Special pick: Dwyane Wade

Team Giannis:

Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker; Reserves: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry

Special pick: Dirk Nowitzki

Note: Westbrook traded from Team LeBron for Simmons after draft.