Picking the 2023 All-Star Game starters, reserves (and snubs)


If the NBA knows how to do one thing well, it’s fueling a debate.

While NBA regular-season rosters are 15 deep (plus two two-way guys), the league keeps the All-Star Game rosters intentionally small — 12 players. There are five starters — selected by a vote of the fans (50%), players (25%) and media (25%) — then the coaches pick the seven reserves (two guards, three frontcourt players, two wild cards). Inevitably, there will be snubs.

We LOVE to argue about snubs.

Here is my vote for the starters and who I think the coaches should pick as the reserves — and who gets snubbed. The NBA will announce the result of the fan/player/media vote for the starters next week, the coaches will pick the reserves the week after that, and not long after the two captains will select their teams.

Just so you know my thinking on this vote: We’re talking about an exhibition game for the fans so I’m not overly concerned with games played — if a player has been on the court for 50%-60% of his team’s games, that’s good enough here (it’s different in my mind from the end of season awards such as MVP or Defensive Player of the Year, where games played matters much more). Also, we want to see the league’s best players in the All-Star Game, so while the first half of this season gets the heaviest weight in picking a team, it’s about more than just a hot 40 games.


G: Donovan Mitchell
G: Tyrese Haliburton
FC: Kevin Durant
FC: Giannis Antetokounmpo
FC: Jayson Tatum

G: Kyrie Irving
G: James Harden
FC: Joel Embiid
FC: Jimmy Butler
FC: Pascal Siakam
WC: Jaylen Brown
WC: Bam Adebayo

SNUBS: DeMar DeRozan, Julius Randle, Trae Young, Jrue Holiday, Jalen Brunson, Kyle Kuzma

Not starting Joel Embiid is the hardest decision on the board — you can swap him into the starting five for Tatum or Antetokounmpo and you get no argument from me (Durant has been the best of those four and, while he’s out right now, he’s played enough games to qualify). Irving and Harden are too good to leave off this list as reserve guards, and Boston’s Brown must also be there. That ended up leaving a difficult final choice between Adebayo and DeRozan — that’s a coin flip for me in terms of the best player and who is having the better half (Bam’s defense matters in that calculation). Leaving both Knicks candidates off the list also feels unfair, but here we are. Trae Young has put up counting stats this season but he hasn’t been himself, he hasn’t been efficient, and he’s not better than the guards above him on the list.


G: Luka Doncic
G: Stephen Curry
FC: Nikola Jokic
FC: LeBron James
FC: Zion Williamson

G: Ja Morant
G: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
FC: Domantas Sabonis
FC: Lauri Markkanen
FC: Anthony Davis
WC: Damian Lillard
WC: Devin Booker

SNUBS: Paul George, D’Aaron Fox, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jerami Grant, Aaron Gordon

The final starting frontcourt spot in the West is a tough call because Davis and Zion have been so good when healthy — too good to leave off the All-Star team — but both have missed a lot of time. Sabonis has been both good and available, and I have wavered between him and Zion for the final starting spot (Davis just has been out too much for me to vote him a starter). Ultimately Zion’s highs are higher, and it’s an exhibition, so I leaned into the guy I want to see play more, but Sabonis is deserving. The West guard pool is very deep, and Fox is hard to leave off after his first half, he should be the first injury call-up. Same with George, who has played well (and more than fans seem to think he has).

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest


We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 4 at the New Orleans Pelicans.

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken in New Orleans. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the record fall when LeBron returns to Los Angeles on Feb. 7 or Feb. 9.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend


It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.

LeBron livid over no foul call at end of regulation, Lakers fall to Celtics in OT


“The best player on earth can’t get a call. It’s amazing.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham made that comment out of frustration after another game where the Lakers felt robbed at the end. He wasn’t the only Laker.

LeBron James was once again brilliant — 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — but with the game tied against the Celtics and 4.1 seconds on the clock, he drove the lane and didn’t get the foul call when it clearly looked like Jayson Tatum hit him on the arm as he shot.

After the game, referee crew chief Eric Lewis admitted the officials missed the call:

There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”

Patrick Beverley picked up a technical foul for bringing a photographer’s camera over to the referee to show evidence of the foul.

These losses are a punch to the gut for a Laker team with little margin for error and trying to make up ground in the West (at 23-27 they sit 13th in the conference). But LeBron sees a pattern — he is scoring 30.2 points per game (sixth in the league) but is getting to the line just 4.9 times per game, fewer than anyone else in the top nine in the league in scoring.

“I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just as much as any of the guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” James said postgame in Boston.

The other Lakers were a little more direct.

Boston pulled away in overtime to get the 125-121 win, snapping their own three-game losing streak.

LeBron finished with 41, Anthony Davis 16 (on 6-of-15 shooting off the bench) and Beverley had 15 including a key putback dunk. Jaylen Brown scored 37 for Boston, Tatum 30 and Malcolm Brogdon had 26 off the bench.

There are no moral victories for these Lakers more than halfway into the season, playing the team with the best record in the NBA close and almost winning does not count. Time is running out on LeBron and his team, they need to string together some wins. They felt they should have gotten the chance to win this one.