ONLY 24 players can make the All-Star team each year and as a result, there are annual ommissions from the rosters who deserve to be picked – shoutout to Mike Conley and CJ McCollum. 2020 is no different, with up and coming stars and established veterans all fighting for a coveted berth on Team LeBron and/or Team Giannis. We all expect to see Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jokic make the cut when the reserves are announced in a few days, but barring anything crazy these five players won’t be so lucky
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Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
NO player deserves to be an All-Star this season more than Domantas Sabonis. Indiana’s talented big man has pieced it together this year helping his team reside in the top tier of teams out East, despite the Pacers missing Victor Oladipo for the entire season to date. Only Andre Drummond and Giannis Antetokounmpo have more double-doubles on the year, with Sabonis helping himself to 12.8 rebounds a night – good for the 6th most in the entire NBA. At 30-17, Indiana is poised to make a promising run through the second half of the season, but before they do, I hope the coaches reward Domas with an All-Star berth, as unlikely as it seems.
Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder
DIDN’T see this coming! We all expected Oklahoma City to be one of the worst teams in the league, but Billy Donovan has unlocked the best version of this squad – thanks in large part to a floor general in season 15. Chris Paul was deemed to be the proud owner of the worst contract in basketball with many exploring trade scenarios for the future HOFer rather than expecting him to excel with the Thunder. As a leader of this year’s surprise packet, CP3 is on the cusp of his 10th All-Star selection and his first since 2015-16 with thanks to his performance late in games for OKC. Recognised as one of the best clutch players in the league this season Paul is a +65 in the last five minutes of a game in which the point differential is 5 or less, the 4th highest clutch +/- in the NBA. Couple that with efficient 17.2 PPG and 6.4 APG averages and Paul should be right in the mix for one of the final roster spots.
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Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
THE All-Star Game is always more fun when the home crowd has someone to cheer for. With this year’s festivities taking place in Chicago, current Bulls guard Zach LaVine is doing everything he can to make that come true for Chicagoans. The scoring machine currently ranks 14th in points per game (25.2) and made three’s (3.1) doing his best in recent times to earn the nod from opposing coaches as a reserve. In the month of January, LaVine is averaging 29.5 PPG, including three games scoring 40 or more as the Bulls try to work their way into the postseason mix. Aside from getting buckets and throwing down jaw-dropping dunks LaVine doesn’t have the greatest impact on contests, but it’s the All-Star game – he doesn’t need to do anything else right?
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
KYRIE Irving isn’t the only All-Star in Brooklyn’s backcourt with Spencer Dinwiddie playing the best ball of his career right now. A personal best 21.2 PPG from Dinwiddie has helped the Nets stay entrenched in the playoff race despite injuries to their top-tier stars. In fact, in 28 games without Kyrie Irving this year, Brooklyn has performed better compared to the 17 times he has suited up (6-11 record with, 13-15 without) with Dinwiddie a huge reason for their success. He has upped his scoring output to 24.6 points a night while adding 7.2 assists on average in Kyrie-less outings, providing plenty of late-game heroics in the process. Dinwiddie’s per-game numbers will dip next year when Durant is healthy, meaning 2020 is his best chance to make the All-Star team. Don’t feel too bummed for the talented guard, who isn’t concerned about missing out on the mid-season showcase anymore.
Spencer Dinwiddie tears up talking about his interaction with Bryant last month. Said Kobe told him he’s an All-Star in his book, so he doesn’t care if he gets selected. He will always have that. pic.twitter.com/FYmCpzPsWw
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) January 27, 2020
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
MISSING 11 games to start the season was always going to hamper Paul George’s chances of making this year’s All-Star roster and a hamstring strain that has forced him to miss the past nine games may be the nail in the coffin. The former Pacer and Thunder stud is putting forth another impressive year with 23.5 PPG helping guide L.A. to a 19-7 record when he is in the lineup. The lack of games played makes it nearly impossible for George to dethrone the up-and-coming likes of Donovan Mitchell and Brandon Ingram as competition for the final few spots out West intensifies. Expect to see George left on the outside looking in when the rosters are announced.
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