On January 3rd, the 1st returns of NBA All-Star voting came back. Some of the names were surprising, to say the least (fans would have Derrick Rose and Luka Doncic in the starting lineup), while other names were utterly predictable (LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the top 2 vote-getters). Here, I’m going to give a list of my top 12 players so far in each conference to make my All-Star teams. There will be four guards and six frontcourt players per conference, plus two wildcards that can be either a guard or frontcourt player.
GUARD- KYRIE IRVING- Since returning from injury, Kyrie has become that player Boston needs. Kyrie is averaging a career-high in assists at 6.6, showing off his ability to find his teammates and get them involved. He’s also averaging career-highs in rebounds and steals, proving he can do more than score the ball. Speaking about scoring the ball, he also is averaging 23.1 points per game, which is 16th in the league. He has led Boston to the 5th seed in the East so far and continues to show his all-around talent.
GUARD- KEMBA WALKER- Kemba Walker was always a good player. This year, Kemba has taken another step and is playing fantastic. Kemba is averaging a career-high 25.4 points per game, along with tying his career-high of 44% field goal percentage. He is also averaging six assists, embracing the playmaking part of his skillset. Oh, and this year’s All-Star game is in Charlotte, the city Kemba Walker plays for, so he will get some fan votes. Kemba deserves to be recognized for his career year by being named a starter in what would be his 3rd All-Star game.
FRONTCOURT- GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO- The top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference and arguably number 1 in the MVP race, Giannis Antetokounmpo is having a phenomenal year. He is averaging 26.3 points, which is 10th in the league. He is averaging 12.6 rebounds per game, good for 7th in the league. He is also averaging a career-high 6.1 assists, which is top 20 in the league. Lastly, he is averaging a career-high in field goal percentage at 58%. Giannis is a player who could play and defend all five positions on the court and is debatably the best player in the Eastern Conference.
FRONTCOURT- KAWHI LEONARD- Kawhi Leonard is flourishing on his new team. Kawhi only played in 9 games last season due to injury and his inability to agree with the Spurs organization. Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors for Demar DeRozan and now looks fresh and is returning to his pre-injury form. Kawhi is averaging 27.1 points per game, 6th in the league. He’s also averaging a career-high eight rebounds per game and is top 15 in the league for steals. Kawhi has led the Raptors to the 2nd seed in the East and could easily take over 1st. This should be Kawhi’s 3rd All-Star appearance.
FRONTCOURT- JOEL EMBIID- Joel Embiid is coming into his own. Last year, he showed everyone what he could do when he’s healthy. This year, Embig has taken a more significant step to becoming the best center in the league. Embiid is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and field goal percentage. His averages rank him top-10 in points, top-10 in blocks, and top-3 in rebounds. He is also a defensive force and great leader for the Philadelphia 76ers. Embiid should make his 2nd straight All-Star start.
GUARD- VICTOR OLADIPO- Victor Oladipo is a player I debated putting in the starting lineup. The only reason I gave Kemba the nod is Victor has had some injury issues. Oladipo has only played in 26 of the Pacers’ 37 games. Although Oladipo limited, he’s been spectacular. He’s averaging close to 20 points and a career-high in both assists and rebounds, averaging 5.5 and 6.3 respectively. He’s also a great defender, one of the best at his position. He should get his 2nd All-Star honor, whether he be a starter or reserve.
GUARD- KYLE LOWRY- Although he’s been injured recently, Kyle Lowry is having a great year. The most eye-popping stat of Lowry’s year is his 9.8 assists. His previous high was 7.4. Lowry has never been a guy that was great at finding teammates but has changed that picture with this season. Although he is not having a high scoring year, averaging only 14.4 points, this could be due to him missing ten games. His stats don’t show how much impact he truly makes on the game, which should get him into his 5th All-Star game.
FRONTCOURT- BLAKE GRIFFIN- Blake Griffin has finally returned to his early form. Blake hasn’t made the All-Star game since 2015, due in large part to injury. Now that Blake is healthy, he’s averaging almost 25 points and nine rebounds. He’s also made the Detroit Pistons his team, taking over as a ball-handler and becoming a visible leader. He also is averaging his highest 3-point and effective field-goal percentage since his All-Star years, making his case for a 6th appearance.
FRONTCOURT- JIMMY BUTLER- Jimmy Butler would give the 76ers a 3rd All-Star, and that’s the way it should be. Jimmy Butler isn’t putting up ridiculous stats, but is very efficient and helps his team win. Butler is averaging 19.1 points per game, 3.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Butler is in his most productive of his career though, averaging career-highs in 3-point percentage with 38% and effective field goal percentage with 51.3%. He’s also playing great defense, tied for his career-high at two steals per game. While he does seem to have some off-court issues, he still deserves his 5th straight All-Star appearance.
FRONTCOURT- NIKOLA VUCEVIC- Another guy who could earn his first All-Star berth, Nikola Vucevic is averaging career-highs in almost every category. 20.3 points, which is also good for top-30 in the league, 3.6 assists, 56% effective field goal percentage, 38% three-point percentage, and 53% field goal percentage are all career-highs. His 11.8 rebounds also put him top-10 in the league. He’s led the Orlando Magic within half-a-game of the playoff picture. His efforts this year may, and should, give him his first appearance in All-Star game.
WILDCARD- BRADLEY BEAL- Bradley Beal is doing precisely what you would expect him to: shoot the ball effectively and efficiently. He’s averaging 23.6 points, as well as 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists, which are all career-highs for Beal. He’s also shooting 48% from the field and has a 53% effective field goal percentage. With John Wall out for the year, Beal is taking over as the number 1 option in Washington. Bradley once again deserves an All-Star appearance.
WILDCARD- BEN SIMMONS- Although most think Simmons should have made the All-Star game last year, Ben Simmons should most definitely make it this year. Simmons is putting up similar stats to last season; he has taken a step as an all-around threat. He is averaging 16.3 points, 7.9 assists, and nine rebounds, all numbers that are great for a 6 foot 10 2nd year (technically his 3rd season but he was injured his full 1st year) guard. Simmons is a fantastic defender and has some of the best passing skills in the league. This should be the season he gets his first All-Star nod.
Biggest Snubs: Zach Lavine and Andre Drummond
GUARD- STEPHEN CURRY- Stephen Curry hasn’t missed an All-Star game since 2013, and that isn’t going to change this year. Curry is having his best year since the 2015-2016 season when he won his 2nd MVP. Curry is averaging 28.9 points, which is second in the league, 5.3 assists, and 5.1 rebounds. He’s being the fantastic 3-point shooter we have all come to know, shooting 44% from beyond the arc. The only thing Steph hasn’t done this year is stay healthy. He has missed 11 of the Warriors’ 39 games but looks very impressive in the games he has played. Go ahead and mark Stephen Curry down for his 6th straight All-Star appearance.
GUARD- JAMES HARDEN- James Harden, coming off a season where he won his first MVP, is now pushing for his 2nd. He is averaging a league-high 33.6 points per game. If Harden can keep up his scoring, this would be the highest points per game average since 2006. He’s also 4th in the league in assists, averaging 8.6 per game. Harden is also having his most efficient year since 2012, with a 39% three-point percentage and a 54.8% effective field goal percentage. Harden should be a shoo-in for his 7th consecutive All-Star game.
FRONTCOURT- LEBRON JAMES- LeBron James, the top vote-getter in the league, is once again showing off why he’s in the conversation of Greatest of All Time. Although he’s missed the Los Angeles Lakers last five games, his stats are still incredible. He’s top-5 in the league in points per game, averaging 27.3. He is also top-15 in assists with 7.1 and top-30 in rebounds with 8.3. The last time LeBron missed an All-Star game was his rookie season, all the way back in 2004. He was one of last year’s captains, and will most likely be a captain again. Making 15 straight All-Star games is very impressive, and LeBron is going to do it come February.
FRONTCOURT- KEVIN DURANT- Kevin Durant, the Finals MVP the past two seasons, is having another All-Star season. His 28.5 points per game put him 4th in the league in that category. He is also putting up 7.5 rebounds and a career-high 6.1 assists. KD has made some adjustments on the defensive side as well, becoming a better defender every year. KD should undoubtedly make his 10th straight All-Star game.
FRONTCOURT-ANTHONY DAVIS- Anthony Davis has become one of the greatest all-around dominant players in the league. He is top-5 in points, rebounds, and blocks. He is averaging 28.7 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 2.65 blocks. He’s also averaging a career-high in assists at 4.4, which is much higher than his previous high at 2.3. His rebounds and points are career-highs as well. AD is also quite efficient, averaging 50% from the field. Davis will most likely make his 6th straight All-Star game.
GUARD- RUSSELL WESTBROOK- Russell Westbrook is having another great year. The former MVP is once again averaging a triple-double. He’s averaging 21.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and ten assists. He has also stepped up on the defensive side, averaging a league-high and career-high 2.7 steals. Unfortunately, he has missed eight games so far this season, but that has not hindered his production. Russ should be on his way to his 8th All-Star game.
GUARD- DAMIAN LILLARD- Damian Lillard is no longer the guy people look over. Lillard is averaging 26.6 points per game, making top-10 in the league. He’s also top-25 in assists, averaging 5.8 per game. He’s also averaging a career-high in field goal percentage with 45% and his best 3-point percentage since 2014 with 38%. Dame is one of the most consistent players in the league and should earn his 4th All-Star nod.
FRONTCOURT- PAUL GEORGE- Paul George is having a career year, and that’s saying a lot for a player of his caliber. He’s averaging a career-high at 27 points, blowing his old record of 23.7 out the water. George is also rebounding the ball well, averaging 8.1 rebounds. PG is also one of the league’s best defenders and is 2nd in the league in steals with 2.2 per game. PG has taken a step up in his game and should take a step into his 6th All-Star game.
FRONTCOURT- NIKOLA JOKIC- Nikola Jokic is one of the best young players in the league at only 23 years old. Jokic isn’t a premier scorer but impacts the game in so many ways. Jokic is averaging 18.2 points, ten rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. Jokic is top-20 in rebounds and top-10 in assists because of this stat line. He is also the only player who is not a point guard to average more than seven assists. At 7 foot tall, Jokic has extraordinary playmaking ability and passing vision. Jokic should make his first All-Star game with his great all-around play style.
FRONTCOURT- KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS- Karl-Anthony Towns is once again a tremendous talented big-man. He is averaging 22.1 points, putting him in the top-20 scorers in the league. He is also a top-10 rebounder, averaging 12.2 rebounds. Towns are also averaging a career-high three assists, which isn’t much, but still an improvement. Fun Fact: KAT has never missed a game in his career. In my opinion, Towns should be in for his second consecutive All-Star game.
WILDCARD- DEVIN BOOKER- Devin Booker is one of the best young scorers in the NBA. Booker is only 22 years old, and is already a top-12 scorer, averaging 25.4 points per game. He is a fantastic 3-point shooter; he won last year’s 3-point contest. He’s also taken over as the Phoenix Suns primary ball-handler and is averaging 7.1 assists, really showing off his playmaking ability. Booker has been quite efficient this year too, averaging a career-high 45% from the field. Booker is an All-Star candidate that should make his first appearance in 2019.
WILDCARD- JRUE HOLIDAY- Probably the most surprising pick, Jrue Holiday is worthy of making his 2nd All-Star game. Holiday is a top-25 scorer, averaging almost 21 points per game. Holiday is also top-5 in assists, averaging 8.5 per game. Maybe Holiday’s best trait, his defense. Holiday is a top-tier defender, who made last year’s All-Defensive 1st team. He is top-18 in steals this season, averaging 1.6 steals per game. Holiday made an All-Star game in 2013 with stats not as good as this. It is time for him to make his 2nd All-Star team.
Biggest Snubs: Tobias Harris and Demar DeRozan
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