The NBA All-Star Game starters have been announced, and it’s a testament to the global reach that pro basketball now has that five of the 10 starters were born outside of the U.S. And of course, it’s a yearly tradition to talk about who got snubbed.
But the fans have spoken, and they do make up 50 percent of the All-Star voting (see results here).
Eastern Conference Starters
Giannis Antetokounmpo (captain) – The power forward has led the Milwaukee Bucks to the second-best record in the league, is third in scoring (31.3 ppg) and has made over 60 percent of his shots. He’s also averaging nearly 12 rebounds per game and more than 6 assists per game.
Joel Embiid – The Philadelphia 76ers star dropped 70 points against the Spurs on Jan. 22. He leads the league in scoring (36.1 ppg) and is sixth in rebounds (11.6 rpg). Philly currently has the third-best record in the East.
Jayson Tatum – Now in his seventh season, the Boston Celtic is averaging more than 26 ppg for the fourth straight season and has his team atop the East standings.
Tyrese Haliburton – The Pacers’ point guard is averaging 23.6 ppg and 12.6 assists per game for the highest-scoring team in the league (124.8 ppg).
Damian Lillard – Giannis’ teammate, the ex-Trail Blazer is averaging 25.3 ppg, even though he’s hitting only 42.6 percent of his shots. But he helps provide a leadership that has propelled the Bucks to the second-best record in the East at the moment.
Western Conference Starters
LeBron James (captain) – What can you say? At 39 years old, the King is averaging 24.8 ppg, 7.5 apg and 7.1 rpg, although the Lakers are floating at sea level at 23-23 and are currently ninth in the West. But you just know LBJ will have LA competitive in the playoffs — not bad for someone who’s played against 35 percent of all NBA players who ever lived.
Kevin Durant – Now in his 17th season, the ‘Durantula’ and Devin Booker have the Suns in fifth place in the West. KD is averaging 29.1 ppg and hitting over 52 percent of his shots this season.
Nikola Jokic – The two-time NBA MVP is at the top of his powers, hitting mid-court buzzer-beaters and averaging 26 ppg, 12 rpg and 9 apg. There is literally no weakness to his game now, and along with Jamal Murray, Joker gives the Nuggets a great chance at a repeat title.
Luka Doncic – Among the most unstoppable players in the league, Luka is the second-leading scorer in the NBA at 33.6 ppg, to go with 8.5 rpg and 9.3 apg. He and Kyrie Irving give the Mavericks a decent title chance this season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – SGA’s development has been amazing if not unsurprising, and he’d be way more famous if not for playing in OKC. The 25-year-old from Ontario is fourth in scoring (31.1 ppg) and also leads the league in steals at 2.3 per game. It’s still early, but he also may end up being an interesting choice for MVP this season.
Were They Snubbed?
Of course, we can’t talk about All-Star Game starters without mentioning those players who might have a strong argument for being starters themselves.
Donovan Mitchell – The Cavaliers guard is averaging 27.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 6.2 apg while keeping Cleveland afloat without the injured Darius Garland and Evan Mobley.
Kawhi Leonard – The two-time NBA champion leads a future Hall of Fame cast for the Clippers that includes Paul George, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The Claw is averaging 23.7 ppg and is third with 1.7 steals per game for the Clips.
Jalen Brunson – Maybe having the best season for a guard in the East, Brunson is scoring a career-best 26.6 ppg while making 42 percent of his three-point attempts. He’s led the Knicks to the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference thus far.
Stephen Curry – Maybe Warrior fatigue has set in. Curry is still doing his thing, averaging 26.8 ppg for a Golden State team with its dynasty now in the rear-view mirror. But Curry is also making a career-low .438 of his shots from the field.
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