The starters for the NBA All-Star game were announced, and starting for the Eastern Conference is Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. And starting for the Western Conference is Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. Now that everyone knows who’s starting in the highlight-filled showcase, it’s up to the NBA coaches to select the All-Star reserves. Here’s who I think they should pick.
EASTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES:
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Many could argue that Isaiah Thomas should be starting for the East this year instead of coming off the bench. The 5-foot-9 assassin is having a career year averaging more than 28 points per game (second in the NBA in scoring), and six assists. Thomas has emerged as one of the most lethal guards in the NBA, and his stellar play is a big reason why the Boston Celtics are currently third in the Eastern Conference standings. In short, Thomas needs to be an all-star.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f50X-NYxzjs
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
While he’s been overshadowed by his All-Star counterpart DeMar DeRozan this season, Lowry is quietly having a career year himself. The former Villanova Wildcat is averaging just over 22 points, seven assists, and nearly five rebounds per game. Lowry’s also shooting nearly 48 percent from the field, and 44 percent from three-point range (sixth in the NBA). His stats this year are comparable to those of Steph Curry when he won the MVP award in 2014. Lowry’s been just as vital to Toronto’s success as DeRozan, which is why he deserves to join his backcourt mate in New Orleans this February.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZeO8rehFPM
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
After winning his first NBA title last year, Love is having his best season with the Cavaliers by far. He’s averaging nearly 21 points and 11 rebounds for the best team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. He’s been an outstanding third option for the Cavaliers, and is finally playing like the player he was in Minnesota a few years ago. Expect Love to play alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in this year’s star-studded spectacle.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHpTIA7wDy4
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have not lived up to their preseason hype this year, especially to those like myself who thought they’d be the second best team in the East. Despite the Pacers struggles however, George has still played at an All-Star level. He’s averaging 22 points, six rebounds, and nearly two steals per game. His contributions on both offense and defense, prove he’s one of the best two-way players in the league.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
I know what you’re thinking, how could a rookie from the lowly Sixers make the All-Star team? While the team may be lowly, this rookie is certainly not. Embiid is already a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year, averaging nearly 20 points, eight rebounds, and two-and-a-half blocks per game (tied for first in the NBA). It was a tough choice picking between Embiid and the Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, who’s certainly having a very good year himself, but Embiid’s impact on the floor, combined with the Sixers surprising 7-3 record in the their last 10 games, gives Embiid the slight edge over Whiteside for the All-Star center spot.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWZqziYLSoU
John Wall, Washington Wizards
I’ve been a fan of Wall’s speed and athleticism since his days at the University of Kentucky, but I’ve often been very critical of his performance. That being said, I have nothing to complain about this year. Wall’s having his best season by far, averaging 23 points, and just over 10 assists (third in the NBA) and two steals per game (second in the NBA). Few point guards are better at distributing the ball and playing defense than Wall, and his insane quickness makes him near impossible to stay in front of. Expect Wall to put his unmatched speed on display for the fans in New Orleans this February.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3geChSORSfY
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets have slipped from where they were earlier in the season, but Walker has continued to play at a high level. The man known as “Cardiac Kemba” is averaging 23 points and over five assists, for a Hornets team that is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference (currently on a three-game win streak). Walker has been one of the most underrated point guards in the league for a couple of years now, but he may finally get the recognition he deserves by playing in his first All-Star game.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY6x4tKS2p0
Honorable Mentions: Hassan Whiteside, Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Jabari Parker
WESTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES:
Disclaimer: I would have included Chris Paul on my list of reserves, but since he’ll still be injured during All-Star weekend, I chose not to.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Do I really need to explain this pick? Russell Westbrook leads the league in scoring, is second in assists, and currently AVERAGES a triple double. He’s obviously an All-Star and should have been selected as a starter. Need I say more?
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNEoPpUg0W0
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers have had their struggles this year, but Lillard is having another great season. He’s averaging just over 26 points (seventh in the NBA in scoring) and nearly six assists per game. Lillard is proving once again that he’s one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league, and that there are few who can guard him one-on-one. The NBA coaches snubbed Lillard from an All-Star appearance last year, so here’s to hoping that they give the King of “Rip City” his rightful place on the All-Star squad.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_I9AebpyjY
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
What Cousins has done this year is nothing short of phenomenal. He’s averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds per game, proving once again that he’s easily the most dominant center in the game. The former Kentucky big man is a near unstoppable force down low, and can even make threes from deep on occasion. While some may not like his attitude, none can deny his immense talent.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZB-v4WKkso
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol has been the anchor for a Grizzlies team that could be dangerous come playoff time. The skilled Spaniard is averaging just over 20 points, six rebounds and four assists per game. His exceptional passing for a big man makes him even more valuable on the offensive end. Gasol is also impactful on defense as he averages nearly a block-and-a-half per game. While Marc doesn’t have as good of a basketball resume as his brother Pau, he’s making his claim as one of the best big men in the game.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlOmB2Axbrk
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
The Jazz have been one of the most pleasantly surprising teams in the NBA this season, and leading the charge is their talented small forward Gordon Hayward. Hayward’s averaging over 22 points and five rebounds for a Jazz squad that currently sits in fifth place in the tough Western Conference. The former Butler standout is one of the most underrated players in the league, but shouldn’t be for long as he’s primed to play in his first all-star game.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Su4Ehx8Qw
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league this year, especially given all their young talent. That being said, Towns has without a doubt been one of the best players in the league this year. The man simply known as “KAT,” is averaging over 22 points, 12 rebounds, and a block-and-a-half per game. His unique skill set and athleticism make him a matchup nightmare for all bigs. However, what’s scariest of all about Towns is that he’s only 21-years-old. KAT has all the potential to be an NBA superstar and the best big man in the league.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVypJ-TiFss
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Choosing between Draymond Green and Klay Thompson was the hardest decision I had to make when selecting my All-Star reserves. Both are incredibly valuable to the success of the best team in the NBA. While Green’s scoring numbers can’t compare to Thompson’s, Green beats him out in every other category. Not only does Draymond lead the team in both rebounding and assists, he’s also third in the league in steals and 19th in blocked shots. His amazing contributions on the defensive end have made him the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. In addition, his insane motor and great leadership make him irreplaceable. While both are certainly worthy of being All-Stars this year, Green’s impact on multiple ends of the floor give him the slight edge over Klay for the final All-Star spot.
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJbI9xni6SM
Honorable Mentions: Klay Thompson, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert, CJ McCollum, LaMarcus Aldridge