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The NBA seeks to add All-Star Game drama by moving the player draft to just before the game

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The NBA has made a slight tweak to its annual All-Star Draft. In past years, the draft has come weeks before the All-Star Game, allowing players and fans to know who was playing for which team well in advance. That’s going to change this season. The league announced on TNT Tuesday that this season, the draft will be held live at 7:30 pm ET, just ahead of tipoff of the Feb. 19 All-Star Game.

The mechanics of the draft won’t change. The two captains will be the player from each conference that receives the most fan votes. Right now, those players are LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Those players will then draft four other starters each from the designated pool of starters followed by seven reserves each from the designated pool of 14 reserves. Coaches will be assigned in advance, with the No. 1 seeded coach in each conference joining the captain from their corresponding conference.

The change adds a bit of drama to the proceedings. While the draft has previously served as a fun event weeks in advance, doing it on the day of the All-Star Game might actually create a bit of bad blood among the players right before they have to take the floor. Now, the players who are picked last will have to play through that embarrassment right away.

In the end, it’s just a minor tweak to a relatively new event. It’s unclear what preceded the decision, although one possibility is the uncomfortable moment at last year’s draft in which Durant, as one of the captains, refused to draft James Harden, who his Brooklyn Nets traded away earlier that day. Regardless, the NBA has shown willingness in recent years to tweak the All-Star formula to help find what works. If this change proves beneficial, it will last into future seasons.