NBA All-Star weekend is fast approaching. The buildup of the weekend might be better than the actual game that’s played. There’s no defense, everybody is just trying to stay healthy and there are no stakes (outside of a little pay difference.) Even with all of those factors, it’s still surreal to see all of those All-Stars share the court together.
This year, we thought it would be a good idea to pick who we think is going to make it. I’ll pick the east, Chris will handle the West. Once the teams actually get picked we’ll do our mock draft just like the two top vote getters will do.
Yes, we know the starters were announced; no, we don’t care. These are OUR picks and what we think.
Without further ado…here we go.
When picking my Western Conference All-Stars, I was initially having trouble. Then I focused on one main criteria for my picks, winning over everything else.
Meaning the best players on the best teams get priority over players on teams lower in seeding in the Western Conference.
I also had one other key rule when picking my All-Stars, no more than two players from the same team can be on the All-Star team.
Super teams are the norm in the NBA now, multiple All-Stars caliber players all play on the same team in today’s NBA. And the point of the All-Star game is to see players from all across the league.
As of this writing (Thursday, January 24th, 2019) the Western Conference is currently seeded as follows from one through tenth: Warriors, Nuggets, Oklahoma City, Portland, Houston, San Antonio, Utah, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Sacramento
G: Steph Curry, Warriors
G: James Harden, Rockets
Forward: Paul George, Thunder
Forward: Nikola Jokić, Nuggets
Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors
G1: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
G2: Russell Westbrook, Thunder
F1: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
F2: Donovan Mitchell, Jazz
F3: Tobias Harris, Clippers
WC1: De’Aaron Fox, Kings
WC2: LeBron James, Lakers
Why Harden over Westbrook?
I understand I said prioritizing winning was the main point in my picks. However given the Western Conference’s tight race (the Rockets are currently two games behind the Thunder) and James Harden’s play through the month January, Harden gets the nod.
Westbrook is currently in the higher seed and is statistically playing better than Harden, averaging more assists and rebounds. But, Westbrook’s shooting troubles compared to Harden’s scoring, including a 61 point game on the road in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, make the difference.
Why Fox over Rose?
This was honestly the hardest pick of them all, picking between De’Aaron Fox and Derrick Rose. The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently a half game behind the Sacramento Kings for tenth place in the conference.
So this pick had nothing to do with seeding, simply stats.
De’Aaron Fox: 17.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists
Derrick Rose: 19 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists
G Kyrie Irving, Celtics
G Bradley Beal, Wizards
F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
F Kawhi Leonard, Raptors
F Joel Embiid, Sixers
G1: Kemba Walker, Hornets
Kemba started off on a TEAR, especially the start of the season when he had a 50 point game followed up by a 60 burger. He’s cooled off since tweaking his ankle. But in a contract year with splits of 25/5/4 where the Hornets would be in shambles without him, pencil him in here.
G2: Ben Simmons, Sixers
hE cAnT sHOot, hIm aNd EmBiId cAnT plAY toGeThEr. His splits are 16/9/8, he’s a potential All-NBA defender, he leads the charge for the 4 seed in the East and makes them go. Ben is in no questions asked.
F1: Nikola Vucevic, Magic
This one is long overdue. Vucevic has been one of the more productive players in the NBA the last near decade. He constantly puts up numbers, and has been the Magic’s only constant ever since Dwight Howard forced his way out. Vucevic is averaging 20 and 12 and has the Magic in the thick of the playoff race at the back end of the east. This season is his best yet, and he’ll be rewarded as such.
F2: Blake Griffin, Pistons
Blake is having a wild season statistically. He’s averaging 26/8/5 in his best season yet, he’s had a 50 point outing this season (it was painful being on the other end of it). Dwayne Casey has the offense flowing through him with Blake handling the ball more than he ever did in LA. It’s a shame the Pistons are cash strapped because if they get the right cast around Blake, look out. He’s in no problem.
F3: Pascal Siakam, Raptors
It starts getting incredibly thin at this point. There are about 3 people that aren’t going to make it in the West that should, but they’re not, so Siakam makes the cut here. Nick Nurse made him a starter and he hasn’t let him down. Splits of 15/7/3, an improved 3 point game, and being the second best player on the best team in the conference gets you here.
WC1: Josh Richardson, Heat
Originally, I had Victor Oladipo; however, with the unfortunate season ending quad injury suffered Wednesday night, things had to change. Josh Richardson is next up. He’s averaging his career high with 17 points a game while also pitching in 4 rebounds and 4 assists. he’s shooting 41% from three and keeping the Heat alive in the East. The strides he has made have been impressive, he’ll be rewarded for them.
WC2: D’Angelo Russell, Nets
I had trouble with this last one. It could have been Kyle Lowry, John Collins, JJ Redick, but none of them made as much sense as Russell. He’s the leading force behind the Meta resurgence. He’s averaging 19/6 while shooting 38 % from 3 (a career best), his last 7 games he’s been on a tear while the Nets continue to climb the standings, all without Caris Levert who is recovering from that nasty foot injury. Russell gets in.
Do you disagree with us? Probably! Let us know in the comments or on twitter @tdowney_ and @kaleemore
*Stats courtesy of Yahoo Sports and Basketball Reference*