Kobe Bryant: SG, Los Angeles Lakers — 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Kevin Durant: SF, Oklahoma City Thunder — 27.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists
Kawhi Leonard: SF, San Antonio Spurs — 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists
Stephen Curry: PG, Golden State Warriors — 29.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists
Russell Westbrook: PG, Oklahoma City Thunder — 24.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists
Draymond Green: PF, Golden State Warriors — 14.5 points, 9.4 points, 7.2 assists
James Harden: SG, Houston Rockets — 27.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists
Chris Paul: PG, Los Angeles Clippers — 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 9.6 assists
Klay Thompson: SG, Golden State Warriors — 20.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists
Anthony Davis: PF, New Orleans Pelicans — 22.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists
DeMarcus Cousins: PF, Sacramento Kings — 27.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists
LaMarcus Aldridge: PF, San Antonio Spurs — 15.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Kobe stole a starting spot here for obvious and well deserved reasons. It kind of messed up the rotation in some ways — Draymond vs. Boogie for the last starting spot is a great debate — but hey, at least Zaza Pachulia isn’t starting.
Talk about the ultimate small-ball lineup. Going by the positions DK assigns players, the West doesn’t even have a center on its roster (although Cousins and Davis certainly are capable). Kobe’s going to be the star on this night, though. He’s the main attraction we’ll all be paying attention to. You may remember MJ put on a wildly entertaining performance in his final All-Star game back in 2003. It’s up to Kobe to do the same. I’d imagine he rises to the occasion just one last time.
When it comes to Bryant, I’m most excited to see him playing late in a close game. What I’ll be looking for early is actually when Kobe comes off the floor, and I’m hoping it will be for Green. Watching Draymond share the floor with those other four starters would be a blast.
When it comes to who may lead the West, however, I’m going with Boogie. Often times the guy who feels he should have been a starter (and Cousins has a fantastic case) will take that frustration and let it out in the game. Westbrook did it last year, and DeMarcus is in prime position to have a monster game this year.
There are also two first-time All-Stars on the West — Green and Leonard. These are as high profile ASG debuts as I can remember. Both are very accomplished NBA Champions expected to dominate the league for years to come. It’s shocking that both Draymond and Kawhi are making their debuts having done so much already in their careers.
Damian Lillard: PG, Portland Trailblazers — 24.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists
Lillard was the biggest snub in either conference this year. He’s willed his team into the eight-seed after losing all four starters alongside him from last season. He’s taken his elite play to the next level this year and is learning how to be a superstar and a leader. Lillard was snubbed last year as well, but was brought on as a replacement. Eventually he has to be recognized and rewarded.
Dirk Nowitzki: PF, Dallas Mavericks — 17.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Let’s get this out of the way first — Dirk doesn’t even want to play in the game. He could use the rest and seemed genuinely happy about the idea of going on vacation with his family. Dirk is still the best player on his team, though, and has the Mavs sitting securely in the West playoff picture. He’s deserving once again.
Rajon Rondo: PG, Sacramento Kings — 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 11.9 assists
Rondo is having a great season for the Kings, who have a decent shot to make the playoffs (battling with the Blazers and Jazz). After never returning to full-form after his ACL tear in Boston, Rondo really killed his value in his short stint with Dallas. This season he’s back to helping a team win, and has been a consistent triple-double threat (he has five, which ties him with Westbrook and puts him behind only Green who has eight).
LeBron James: SF, Cleveland Cavaliers — 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists
Paul George: SF, Indiana Pacers — 23.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists
Carmelo Anthony: SF, New York Knicks — 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists
Dwyane Wade: SG, Miami Heat — 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists
Kyle Lowry: PG, Toronto Raptors — 21.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists
Jimmy Butler: SG, Chicago Bulls — 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists
DeMar DeRozan: SG, Toronto Raptors — 23.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists
Paul Millsap: PF, Atlanta Hawks — 18.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Andre Drummond: C, Detroit Pistons — 17.3 points, 15.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists
Chris Bosh: PF, Miami Heat — 19.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists
John Wall: PG, Washington Wizards — 19.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 9.8 assists
Isaiah Thomas: PG, Boston Celtics — 21.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.6 assists
When it comes to the East, there may not be as much elite talent, but sleeping on this roster would be a mistake. Like the West, they’re rolling out a crazy small-ball lineup to start the game, so this should be a fun, fast paced game out of the gates.
The way Butler and DeRozan are playing (and leading their teams) it’s tough to see neither of them starting in the game. More specifically, Jimmy Butler has taken the league by storm this season. He’s far more deserving of the starting SG spot than Wade, despite all his career accomplishments.
The East has a pair of first-timers in the game themselves in Drummond and Thomas. Unlike the West, neither of these guys has really had All-Star caliber seasons in the past, but they’ve earned it this season in completely different ways. Drummond has finally developed into the beast we thought he could be around the rim when he was made a lottery selection after just one season at Connecticut. Thomas, on the other hand, is only the second All-Star ever listed at 5-foot-9 or less — the other being Calvin Murphy back in 1979. Not to mention Thomas was the 60th overall pick in the draft in 2011. IT2 has defied all the odds to get here.
Going off DK position eligibility, Drummond is the only true center in the game — which shows just how perimeter oriented the NBA has become. As for the lineup I’m most excited to see, I’m hopeful the starting forwards get some run with Wall and Butler coming in off the bench. Match that up with the West lineup, I think we’re likely to see this and we’d have LeBron and Draymond dueling at center with a slew of elite perimeter talent on the floor. Fingers crossed this happens.
As for who may steal the show for the East, I don’t have a gut feeling on one guy like I do on Boogie out West. Butler could be that guy who has the same mentality on not getting the starting nod and goes into beast mode. Having spent time around Thomas covering the Celtics, I can also assure you he has the type of mentality where he’s going to want to take over this game. He’s not just happy to be going to Toronto, Thomas wants to prove he belongs. I could also see the hometown duo of Lowry and DeRozan carrying the load for the East. Nobody is hotter than the Raptors in the NBA right now, and they’re the reason.
Pau Gasol: C, Chicago Bulls — 16.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Pau is also averaging 2.1 blocks for the Bulls and has been doing it all this season. With all the injuries to Chicago’s front court, Gasol has been Mr. Consistent. Pau has been the anchor of the Bulls’ defense and their second option on offense. He’s arguably just as deserving of being an All-Star as Butler.
UPDATE Pau Gasol has been added to the All Star roster to replace Jimmy Butler.
Al Horford: C, Atlanta Hawks — 15.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists
Gasol was the only real “snub” in my mind, but there are other guys you can make the argument for. Horford is one of those guys. After the Cavs and Raptors it’s a complete logjam in the East, but Atlanta is at the top of it. Millsap deserves the nod to represent the Hawks, but Horford certainly was considered.
Kemba Walker: PG, Charlotte Hornets — 20.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists
Kemba has been a beast this season. He joined the 50-point club during one of his many scoring outbursts, but more importantly, he has the Hornets in playoff contention with Al Jefferson and Nicolas Batum having injury riddled seasons. I like Wall and Thomas over Walker, but he deserves a mention.
Find me on Twitter for comments: @julianedlow