All-Star Weekend is always a highlight of the NBA season. Part of what makes it so much fun is fueling the hype train during the weeks leading up to the festivities. So let’s have some fun quickly breaking down the rosters and identifying a few snubs from each conference. Hit me up on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
Kyrie Irving: PG, Cleveland Cavaliers — 24.4 points, 5.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals
Irving obviously deserves to be here from both a talent standpoint and a winning standpoint. He’s having a typical Kyrie season statistically and is probably one of the two most talented guards in the East, but I’m not so sure there aren’t more deserving starters based off this season’s production alone …
DeMar DeRozan: SG, Toronto Raptors — 27.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals
DeRozan is having a career season. Many will argue Lowry is more valuable to the Raptors, which may be true, but DeMar has improved tremendously this season and deserves to represent Toronto in the starting lineup.
Jimmy Butler: SG/SF, Chicago Bulls — 24.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.8 steals
Man, the Bulls are a freaking mess right now. I can’t condone how Butler (along with the rest of the team is acting), but that doesn’t take away from the season he’s having. I thought Jimmy had a chance to start last year but he was voted into a bench role before being replaced by his teammate Pau Gasol due to injury. Good to see him finally get the nod.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: PG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks — 23.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.8 steals
Great to see The Greek Freak not only make his first ASG appearance, but get the start. He’s got the Bucks winning games and is putting up eye popping numbers across the board as you see. This guy’s made for this game.
LeBron James: SF, Cleveland Cavaliers — 25.6 points, 8.4 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals
Amazingly, LeBron is the only player in the East’s starting lineup that’s not guard eligible on DK. Talk about the new small-ball era. I’ve got nothing to say about LeBron here as he’s a no-brainer, but this starting five is going to be exciting to watch. LeBron and Giannis should be responsible for protecting the paint.
Paul George: SF/PF, Indiana Pacers — 22.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals
It’s nice to see George consistently landing ASG appearances after that ugly leg injury. He’s a solid player that deserves to be here.
UPDATE: Kevin Love has been replaced by Carmelo Anthony on the East All-Stars.
Kevin Love: PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers — 20.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Love rounds out the trifecta for the Cavs, as he’s fitting in better and better with Cleveland as time passes. He’s not the most exciting ASG game player as he’ll just space the floor and rebound … but he belongs.
Kyle Lowry: PG, Toronto Raptors — 22.4 points, 6.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals
Many believed Lowry was worth of a starting spot, but I feel as though he’s right where he belongs — a shoo-in as one of the first guys off the bench. He and DeRozan are co-stars for the Raptors, but just as last year was Lowry’s year to start, this time around belongs to DeRozan.
Paul Millsap: PF, Atlanta Hawks — 18.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.0 blocks
Millsap has been really solid this season, but I’m not so sure he’s an All-Star. If I’m going to put any of my snubs on this team it means I have to take players off, so Millsap is off.
Isaiah Thomas: PG, Boston Celtics — 29.1 points, 6.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds
I hinted earlier that Kyrie might not be worthy of starting despite his talent. Thomas is deserving of the starting PG role for the East. Prior to the season, the narrative in Boston was that Thomas and Al Horford were the co-stars of this team. Now Isaiah’s hearing MVP chants at the Garden. He’s second in the league in scoring, and means almost everything to the Celtics. He’d finish fourth in MVP voting if it were up to me right now, so clearly he’s a starter.
Kemba Walker: PG, Charlotte Hornets — 23.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals
Kemba was my biggest snub for the East last season, so it’s good to see the coaches corrected themselves this time around. He’s the Hornets first All-Star since 2010 (when Gerald Wallace was selected as a Bobcat), so I’m sure Charlotte is pretty pumped about finally having this kind of franchise cornerstone.
John Wall: PG, Washington Wizards — 23.1 points, 10.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals
Outside of LeBron, you’d have to say Wall is pretty much just as talented as anyone on the roster. After another disappointing start, Wall has the Wizards playing very well lately and he has been producing statistically as well. Very deserving.
Joel Embiid: C, Philadelphia 76ers — 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2.1 assists
Trust – the – process! Embiid is my lone snub that actually deserves to be on the team (replacing Millsap). The stats are fantastic for anybody, but for a rookie that missed two years with foot injuries and is playing just 25 minutes per game! I think Embiid has a chance to be a top-5 player in the league and an MVP, but even without projecting, he’s an All-Star today.
Carmelo Anthony: SF, New York Knicks — 22.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists
Dwyane Wade: SG, Chicago Bulls — 19.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals
I’m going to pair Anthony and Wade together here since they essentially go hand in hand. I’m kind of glad LeBron will be without his buddies in this one. It’s a passing of the torch moment for the NBA. LeBron is still relevant, but Melo and Wade aren’t (missing the ASG for the first time since 2004).
Stephen Curry: PG, Golden State Warriors — 24.6 points, 6.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals
Back-to-back MVPs and a livid GSW fan base has Curry in this position. I don’t have a huge problem with him starting since he’s having another great (but not MVP) season. However, we know who Curry’s here in place of and I just cannot bring myself to be OK with it … so I guess I do have a huge problem with Curry starting.
James Harden: PG/SG, Houston Rockets — 28.6 points, 11.6 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals
Harden was my preseason MVP pick, and he’s doing just what I thought he would. He’s clearly a deserving starting because of his numbers, but where he has the Rockets in the playoff hunt right now out West is why he’s the MVP.
Kawhi Leonard: SF, San Antonio Spurs — 25.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals
Kawhi made it last year and started in his debut. He should be a staple as a starting forward in the West for the next 10 years, as Giannis should be in the East. Really, the entire West front court was a complete no brainer …
Kevin Durant: SF, Golden State Warriors — 26.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.2 steals
Since there’s not much debate here, I’ll use this space to just discuss Durant and the Warriors. They won’t have the MVP on their team. They won’t win more than 70 games. They also won’t lose more than two games to anyone in the postseason if KD locks down on defense like he did last postseason (and has so far this season), and that includes against the Cavs. Durant makes them too powerful come playoff time and the Warriors have all the reason to be playing for June after how last season went.
Anthony Davis: C, New Orleans Pelicans — 28.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals
Davis is set to host another ASG in his gym, so he’ll be looking to put on a show in this one and go after the MVP. He’s built for this type of game with the damage he can do in the paint combined with his guard skills. He’ll be fun to watch. Unlike the East, the West has much more of a traditional starting lineup, with KD as more of a perimeter PF.
DeMarcus Cousins: PF/C, Sacramento Kings — 28.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks
I thought Boogie should’ve been a starter last season, but with Kobe stealing a spot it’s tough to argue. He’s the odd man out again this season, but the clear sixth-man on this squad. He and Davis should be able to bully the East down low. Just another reason the East could use Embiid.
Marc Gasol: C, Memphis Grizzlies — 20.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 steals
Gasol has become the anchor for all of the Grizzlies’ success. Randolph has faded into a bench role, while Conley has battled injuries. Gasol is the clear-cut representative for Memphis.
Draymond Green: PF/C, Golden State Warriors — 10.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.4 blocks
I think Draymond is key to the Warriors’ success, but in a glorified role player spot. In short, I’m saying I don’t think the Warriors could ever afford to lose him, but he’s not an All-Star in my mind. There were some snubs in the West that should be on the squad. So Draymond is out for me.
Gordon Hayward: SF, Utah Jazz — 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals
Hayward is a first time All-Star, and a deserving one. He’s steadily improved over each of his NBA seasons and is the leader of a very good Jazz team. Solid all the way around, and one of those guys you feel good seeing in the game with guys like Melo and Wade on their way out.
DeAndre Jordan: C, Los Angeles Clippers — 12.5 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.1 assists
I was surprised to see this was Jordan’s first ASG appearance. He’s having a good season, but guess what? He wouldn’t be making his debut if it were up to me. It’s close, but I think there’s a more deserving center.
Klay Thompson: SG, Golden State Warriors — 21.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists
This is really tough to give the Warriors just two All-Stars. Honestly, I’m probably wrong here, but Klay is my third guy on the West that I’m taking off the team in favor of all three of my snubs. Having Draymond and Klay behind KD and Steph is why they’re so good, but the ASG is to reward individual seasons, and I feel there are better options.
Russell Westbrook: PG, Oklahoma City Thunder — 31.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 10.2 assists, 1.6 steals
Happy to save the best for last. Not only did Russ get snubbed from the starting five while averaging a triple-double, but also as the league’s leading scorer. That’s absolutely nuts and there’s no defending it. Westbrook > Curry all day in my mind. As I mentioned, this roster is about THIS season and Westbrook has been THE storyline of 2016-17. If we know Westbrook like we think we do, he’ll drop 40 and win MVP.
Chris Paul: PG, Los Angeles Clippers — 17.5 points, 9.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals
I have to think the reason CP3 didn’t get in is because of his injury. But that’s not how the vote is supposed to work. Paul should have been named to the team and then replaced due to his thumb … then we can debate if Draymond or Klay gets to replace him.
Rudy Gobert: C, Utah Jazz — 12.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
Gobert is in over Jordan for me. This game isn’t really about either of their styles of play, it’s about scorers. But if one is getting in, Gobert is more of a “unicorn” that can make some unbelievable plays. So he’s better for this unique game, and I’d say more valuable to the Jazz than Jordan is to the Clips.
Damian Lillard: PG, Portland Trailblazers — 26.2 points, 5.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds
Lillard not even getting a sniff while he’s having a career-season is ridiculous. He’s an easy pick for me over a guy like Klay Thompson. Portland is having a lot of trouble winning, which hurts him, but Lillard is one of the most talented guards in the game and deserves to be in the ASG.
Stats are accurate as of 1/27/17
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