WITH roughly 10 games left until All-Star voting closes we’re starting to get a decent idea of that the and East and West squads are going to look like. Fan votes don’t decide the entire ballot, so don’t expect to see fan favourites Tacko Fall or Alex Caruso in Chicago. However, there are still plenty of dudes vying for a coveted place on the team, with some standing a better choice than others.
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Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
DESPITE missing the last 26 games for Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving is reportedly close to a return to the court. When he does return, it seems like he’ll nab one of the starting roles in the backcourt with Uncle Drew currently 2nd in voting for East frontcourt players. That’s the only change to the starters on this side of the field, with Pascal Siakam battling his own injuries woes which could see him fall out of the starting five. However, much like Irving, he’s expected back in the near future and his 27 game body of work is enough to see him hold his frontcourt starting role…for now.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
THERE aren’t huge surprises in the reserves either, with six players retaining their spots from the first list. As much as I’d love to see Domantas Sabonis hold a place in the rotation, I think his chances are dwindling and the form of Bam Adebayo has forced my hand. Miami’s big man is close posting a 15/10/5 line, with Giannis Antetokounmpo the only other player putting forth the same per game numbers. That combined with the Heat’s 27-11 record right now has Bam more than worthy of a spot in the reserves.
THE competition for the final roster spots will be interesting to watch with players like Kyle Lowry and Khris Middleton serious threats to still make the team. However, having a home town player in the game is much more fun, which is part of the reason I’ve given LaVine the nod. Here’s hoping an All-Star pick will sway him to take part in the Dunk Contest as well.
Just Missed the Cut: Domantas Sabonis (Pacers), Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Khris Middleton (Bucks)
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
James Harden, Houston Rockets
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
IT’S fair to say four of these spots won’t change with Luka and Harden all but certain to start in the backcourt and the Lakers’ duo holding down a pair of the frontcourt slots. The fifth starting spot is up for debate with only Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic the viable candidates in my opinion. Last time around I gave Kawhi the nod, but an MVP calibre past month from Denver’s star has pushed him ahead of Leonard in the pecking order. I can’t see a third party entering the discussion as a starter, making the next fortnight important for both players if they want to start in Chicago this February.
Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
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THE unlucky cuts from the Western Conference can still make a push into the reserve list, but spots are quickly filling up. Obviously, whoever doesn’t make the coveted starting slot out of Jokic/Kawhi will be a lock for one reserve role with Damian Lillard surely a shoo-in too. There are about eight players fighting for the next four to five places and the next few weeks will be crucial with players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert potentially fighting for one spot. The same could be said for Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell and Brandon Ingram, with all three scoring sensations worthy of a spot, but at least one of them seems destined to miss out.
REPUTATION can do wonders for players’ All-Star candidacy, with star veterans Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul currently on the outside of my hypothetical roster looking in. Westbrook isn’t as deserving as CP3 for a place on the team, but there’s a chance that the players/coaches vote could push one, if not both of them onto the list. Personally, I would like to see Paul make his 10th All-Star team, with plenty of time still for the likes of Booker and Mitchell to chalk up their appearances in the future.
Just Missed the Cut: Devin Booker (Suns), C.J. McCollum (Blazers), Russell Westbrook (Nuggets), Chris Paul (Thunder)
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