All-Star weekend is right around the corner and while the NBA is full of talented proven stars, a lot of young players have also made a name for themselves this season. With injuries to guarantees such as Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry & Kyrie Irving, this means that quite a few players are set to make their first All-Star appearance. With just over a month away until All-Star Weekend is set to take place, we break down who might earn selection for the main event in Chicago based on statistics, team value and overall performance throughout the season.
As a reminder as to how All-Star voting works, the fans, media, and players vote on the starters. The fans contribute to 50% of the vote, while the players and media get 25% each. The reserves are decided by the coaches, and the leading vote-getter in each conference will become team captains, and get to select the players they want on their team.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Team Captain
With season averages of 30.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists in just over 31 minutes per game, is there really any debate? The reigning MVP has somehow taken his game to another level, and is experiencing career-highs in almost every category. Just to make things even scarier, the Greak Freak also managed to add a three point shot to his arsenal, shooting 33% while attempting over five per game (career-high).
Pascal Siakam – Starter
Coming off a season averaging 20 PPG and 7 RPG in the most recent finals for the Toronto Raptors, Pascal Siakam has continued to break out as a top-tier NBA player. This season he has been putting up All-NBA numbers of 24.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists and has also been putting the Kawhi-less Raptors on his back, seemingly leading them to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference this season. No brainer that ‘Spicy P’ gets the start.
Joel Embiid – Starter
While the Philadelphia 76ers haven’t lived up to the expectations set upon them this season, there is no question that when healthy, Joel Embiid is the best center in the East (maybe even in the league). The big man out of Cameroon has proven time and time again that he has the ability to take over games, and there is no reason he isn’t worthy of a starting spot with numbers of 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Lock him in (unless that thumb injury keeps him out for an extended period)
Kemba Walker – Starter
When the Celtics locked in Kemba this summer, many originally questioned whether he was good enough of a player to be a first option on a winning team, considering he had been stuck on the dreadful Charlotte Hornets his entire career. However, Kemba has proven he belongs with the big dogs after playing a huge part in leading this Boston Celtics team to the second seed, as well as playing some of his best basketball on both ends of the floor; 21.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists for Kemba this season while playing under one of the best coaches in Brad Stevens. He is worthy of a starting spot.
Trae Young – Starter
Some may agree with me here, some may not. However, you cannot deny the play of Trae Young this season, who is having the greatest offensive season by a point guard since Stephen Curry in 2015. Averaging 28.9 points to go with 8.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds, Trae Young is having a stellar season, despite being on a dreadful team right now in the Atlanta Hawks. He should be deemed a starting spot due to his great individual play, which includes over 18 games with 30 or more points. Impressive.
Jimmy Butler – Reserve
Heading into this season, not many people could predict that the Miami Heat would be a top-three team in the East, however they are currently the third seed with a 25-10 record and a big part of that is thanks to Jimmy Butler. The multi-time All-Star has also added a lot more to his game this summer with an improved facilitating game, ranking inside the top 20 in assists league-wide and doing a great job at getting his teammates involved. A valid argument could be made regarding Jimmy being a starter, but he just misses out this season due to career-lows in shooting splits, where he is an ice cold 27% from three this season.
Jayson Tatum – Reserve
Entering Year 3, many hoped that Jayson Tatum could take his game from a talented shooter to an all-around scoring threat – and it is fair to say he has surpassed those expectations. Tatum has been dominant all season, and is one of three Cetlics to average over 20 points this season. He has proven his worth on both ends of the floor while being a huge part in Boston’s success, giving no choice but to reward him with his first All-Star appearance.
Bam Adebayo – Reserve
One player who has certainly not gotten enough recognition this season is third-year forward Bam Adebayo. Bam has gone from promising sixth man behind Hassan Whiteside a year ago, to a dominant DPOY candidate that has elite vision and a nifty touch around the rim. His development this season has been a huge part as to why Miami is such a good team, and while players like Andre Drummond may be more deserving due to individual success, Bam’s impact on his team while doing it at such a young age gives him the edge.
Ben Simmons – Reserve
An argument is certainly there to be made regarding Ben Simmons being a starter this season, as he has been one of the best point guards in the East and has emerged as one of the best defenders in the league too. His ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor guarantees him a spot in the All-Star game for the second season, but will not be warranted a start due to the elite performances we have seen from other guard Trae Young this season. Simmons is averaging 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists while also contributing just as much defensively, with 2.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. Lock him in to be an All-Star for a very long time.
Kyle Lowry – Reserve
Many have bought into the narrative that Kyle Lowry has fallen off this season; however, the NBA champion has seemingly gotten better at the age of 33. The longtime Raptor, alongside Pascal Siakam, has done a terrific job at being the crafty point guard he has always been, and has done well to take on the role as a lead scorer without Kawhi Leonard on the team anymore for the Raptors. Lowry is putting up numbers of 21.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.5 assists to go with 1.1 steals, while being a big part in the team’s success so far.
Jaylen Brown – Reserve
During the summer, many people would call you crazy if you said the Celtics would have three All-Stars this season — however, at this point, it seems more than likely. Swingman Jaylen Brown has taken his game to another level, going from a reliable 3&D player to a star two-way player who can put the ball in the hoop at one end, while locking up the opposition’s best guard on the other. Brown is experiencing career-highs as a scorer in almost every category, whether it be major improvements finishing at the rim or hitting threes at an elite 39.5% clip. You can almost lock him in as a first time All-Star.
Zach LaVine – Reserve
Maybe a wildcard for this year’s All-Star game, but there is no reason why Zach LaVine cannot make the cut after having another terrific season for the Chicago Bulls. LaVine can score with the best of them, and has had his best season yet defensively. He is top five in the league in points in the clutch, has hit multiple game-winners, and has even surpassed Stephen Curry with 13 three-pointers hit in a single game. While his game is still flawed, Zach has proven he is on his way to becoming a great NBA player; with the event being held in Chicago (and a chance at him doing the dunk contest), he has a good shot at sneaking in to his first All-Star game. Zach is averaging 24.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists to go with 1.4 steals.
Honorable mentions: Bradley Beal, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Fred VanVleet