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.
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.
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).