Now we know the starters for the All-Star Game in New York Feb. 15.
We also know that Mike Budenholzer and Steve Kerr will be the coaches. We know that Ariana Grande will be the halftime entertainment. We know that some confused out-of-town fans will take the train to Penn Station then still ask someone how to get to Madison Square Garden from there.
What we don’t know is who will be the reserves for the All-Star Game. With the starters in place the coaches from around the league vote to round out the rest of the field. Those reserves will be announced officially Jan. 29. But we’re not that patient, so we’re giving you our picks today. The entire team at ProBasketballTalk — Kurt Helin, Brett Pollakoff, Dan Feldman and Sean Highkin — have made their selections, and while we agree on some we also discuss below where we disagree.
Like the coaches do, we picked two backup guards, three backup front court players and two wild cards.
(For the record, we are not dealing with the Kobe Bryant injury in this post, nor potentially LaMarcus Aldridge. It is very likely Kobe will be out of the All-Star Game, at which point Commissioner Adam Silver gets to pick his replacement on the team, while Steve Kerr would pick who will start in his place.)
Kurt: This is just a brutal set of choices — it’s not that just there are guys like Klay Thompson, Mike Conley, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki who just missed my cut, it’s that guys like Tony Parker or Monta Ellis are deserving and can’t even get close to serious consideration. The West is just overloaded with talent. The hardest call for me was whether or not to include Kevin Durant on the team — he’s been amazing when he’s played but missed a lot of time. In the end, I just can’t keep the second best player on the planet off the squad if he’s healthy, and clearly he is.
Brett: The West is just too stacked this year, which means plenty of deserving players will end up getting shut out. Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins are the biggest snubs, and of course, guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan would get in if the talent pool was more diluted. I don’t see Klay usurping any of the guards, and if Cousins gets in, it may be at Howard’s expense. But I simply couldn’t justify leaving any of the guys I selected off of the roster.
Dan: With my criteria, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were slam-dunk choices, where others might debate whether they’ve played enough. Very little separated DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard (in) and Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge (out). Because I’m not worried time missed, I also gave serious to Kawhi Leonard, whose impact on the Spurs in limited action is unquestioned. Klay Thompson wasn’t too difficult an omission, which says a lot about the West. And if Thompson didn’t come that close, other seemingly reasonable candidates like Mike Conley, Tyson Chandler, Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Favors, Goran Dragic and Draymond Green didn’t have much of a chance.
Kurt: Finding enough representation for the Hawks was the challenge, because you can argue they should have four guys. I couldn’t select Kyle Korver over Jeff Teague and I couldn’t leave off any of the other guards — Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler have been fantastic and deserved their spots, and without LeBron in Miami Wade has stepped up his game this season.
Brett: You could make a case for the Hawks getting four players in — I mean, the team has won 27 of its last 29 games. But Bosh is worthy, so Horford (regrettably) just misses the cut.
Dan: Kyrie Irving vs. Jeff Teague was my toughest decision in this process. Teague has been better this season, but I pick All-Stars based on which player I believe is best at this moment. That’s still Irving, who has a stronger track record but has been (somewhat fairly, somewhat unfairly) tainted by the Cavaliers’ early struggles. By the same logic, I wasn’t going to punish Kevin Love for Cleveland marginalizing him. Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Korver, Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond also drew consideration.