Three Things to Know: All-Star snubs are mostly first replacements this season

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons
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1) These All-Star snubs are mostly first replacements this season

In a season knocked sideways with COVID absences and injuries, why would we expect the All-Star Game to be any different? There will be plenty of injury replacements — we know of two for sure already.

Thursday was time for the All-Star Game reserves to be announced. The fans voted and picked the starters, NBA coaches get the tougher job of naming the reserves — which always leads to some deserving players getting snubbed. Here is the list of All-Star reserves from each conference:

WEST
Chris Paul
Luka Doncic
Devin Booker
Donovan Mitchell
Rudy Gobert
Karl-Anthony Towns
Draymond Green

EAST
Jimmy Butler
Darius Garland
James Harden
Zach LaVine
Khris Middleton
Jayson Tatum
Fred VanVleet

First, congrats to Garland and VanVleet, who earned their first All-Star appearances.

There are snubs, but this season a number of those snubs (at least two, and that number will grow) will be in Cleveland anyway. Commissioner Adam Silver picks the replacements — and he traditionally names the player with the most fan votes not chosen as a reserve.

The biggest snubs? I’d start with Jarrett Allen of the Cavaliers — but he very likely will be playing in the game anyway because the Nets’ Kevin Durant (All-Star starter and team captain) already said he is out due to the sprained knee that has sidelined him (and sent the Nets to six straight losses). Allen has the most fan votes of any East frontcourt player not selected by the coaches.

Next on my snub list are Jrue Holiday of the Bucks and LaMelo Ball of the Hornets. Holiday could be watching the game with his family from the warmth and comfort of his home unless one of the East guards has an unfortunate injury in the next couple of weeks. Ball is in the Rising Stars game so he will be in Cleveland anyway, which means he could get the call up if there is an injury.

Out West, the biggest snubs are Dejounte Murray of the Spurs and Anthony Davis of the Lakers (who has played at an All-Star level and still disappointed Lakers fans, an impressive double). Davis could well be in Cleveland anyway, as Green has said his back/calf issue will keep him out of the game (he said on TNT he’s feeling no pain and doing much better, the Warriors are just taking it slow). Davis got the most votes of any West frontcourt player not in the game (well, technically, Paul George did, but he’s injured as well).

What would be interesting is if a second West frontcourt player bows out (LeBron James is due back to the Lakers soon, but he might be a player to watch). If Silver follows the fan voting, the next player in line would be Carmelo Anthony, but he is far less deserving of a spot than Deandre Ayton of the Suns or Brandon Ingram of the Pelicans. Where would Silver go with that call?

Other legit snubs: Miles Bridges of the Hornets, Jaylen Brown of the Celtics, Pascal Siakam of the Raptors, Bradley Beal of the Wizards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder and Desmond Bane of the Grizzlies.

2) Shorthanded Lakers fall to more shorthanded Clippers, which says plenty

The Lakers were without LeBron James, and we know what that does to this team. Still, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook were there and combined for more than 72 minutes and 47 points.

The Clippers remain without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, yet Tyronn Lue’s team scraps, fights, and finds ways to win games. They have an identity. They are gritty.

Those gritty Clippers beat the Lakers because, in the final seconds, Reggie Jackson skipped past Russell Westbrook, spun around Austin Reaves, and hit the game-winning layup (the Clippers had Serge Ibaka and Marcus Morris on the court, which pulled Davis away from the basket leaving no real rim protection). Davis got his chance at revenge, but his game-winner rimmed out.

The Clippers’ front office built a balanced, deep roster to go around their stars, and even with their big names out, this team is 27-27 and looks like a play-in team.

Deep is not the word anyone would use for the Lakers — their depth is scattered across teams in Chicago and Washington — and they sit 25-28 despite all the star power. That’s not about coaching (although Lue, the guy that turned down the Lakers’ lowball offer a few years back, is doing a fantastic job); it’s about roster building.

3) Trae Young drops 43 on Suns to end their 11-game win streak

The Suns second-longest winning streak this season — which is insane when you think about it — came to an end at the hands of one Trae Young, who continues his ascent up the NBA’s list of stars. He dropped 43 on them.

The Hawks are hot of late, having won 8-of-9. While they dug themselves too big a hole to get out of the play-in games in the deep East (they would have to make up four games and leapfrog four teams, which is highly unlikely), they are the perfect example of the squad that the teams atop the East don’t want to see in the first round.

Highlight of the night: Anthony Edwards makes media wait while he orders McDonald’s

At age 20, Anthony Edwards is still in the “I can eat whatever I want and it doesn’t impact my body/play” phase of life.

Following Minnesota’s 128-117 win over Detroit on Thursday, Edwards walked into the media interview room but then made everyone wait while he placed an order at McDonald’s on the app so he could pick it up after he left the arena.

For the record, Edwards said he’s a McChicken man.

I love Edwards. He’s authentic. I’m not sure the Timberwolves’ nutritionist feels the same way.

Last night’s scores:

Minnesota 128, Detroit 117
Miami 112, San Antonio 95
Atlanta 124, Phoenix 115
Toronto 127, Chicago 120
Golden State 126, Sacramento 114
LA Clippers 111, LA Lakers 110