Selecting the 2019 NBA All-Stars

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With the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend just weeks away, this year’s rosters are perhaps as difficult to compile as they have ever been. This is largely because the rosters are still being composed as if the game was ‘East versus West’, even though the format changed last year from the traditional conference battles to a schoolyard pick.

Why do we need to pick 12 players per conference if the game will feature teams with jumbled rosters? No matter, rules are rules and we (fans, voters, media, etc.) must conform to them. I have done my best to select my respective All-Star teams, and have included them below. Just a reminder that the starters are composed of two guards and three frontcourt players, while the bench consists of seven players; two guards, three frontcourt and two wild cards.

East:

G – Kyrie Irving (BOS)

G – Bradley Beal (WAS)

F – Kawhi Leonard (TOR)

F – Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)

F – Joel Embiid (PHI)

G – Victor Oladipo (IND)

G – Kemba Walker (CHA)

F – Blake Griffin (DET)

F – Nikola Vucevic (ORL)

F – Pascal Siakam (TOR)

WC – Ben Simmons (PHI)

WC – Khris Middleton (MIL)

Four out of five starters should be no brainers (with Beal as the exception). Don’t really need to say anything more than that. Oladipo, Walter, Griffin, Simmons and Vucevic should also be locks. I think Griffin’s been the fifth best player in the East so far, but the rules don’t allow me to start him. I ended up with Beal over Walker/Simmons because my only reason against him was that the Wizards are such a mess from top to bottom. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason to bench him. I could be talked into the other two though.

The last two spots were tough. I can think of five Western players who deserve to be All-Stars more than Middleton and Siakam. Alas, rules are once again rules. More so than anything, these picks were rewards for being on the top two teams in the East. I didn’t feel like rewarding Butler after he blew up the Wolves and is setting up the explosion in Philly.

West:

G – Stephen Curry (GS)

G – James Harden (HOU)

F – Paul George (OKC)

F – Kevin Durant (GS)

F – Anthony Davis (NO)

G – Damian Lillard (POR)

G – Jrue Holiday (NO)

F – LeBron James (LAL)

F – Nikola Jokic (DEN)

F – Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)

WC – Rudy Gobert (UTA)

WC – Russell Westbrook (OKC)

The starting backcourt is a no brainer; Curry is having a yet another historic shooting season, and is on pace to finish shooting 50/45/90. Harden is averaging a bajillion points over the last month. As for the frontcourt, LeBron has missed too many games to be starting (even though he will start due to the fan vote). Paul George is playing the best ball of his career, and is my frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year as of now. He is playing like Kawhi did in 2016; just an absolute terror on both ends. As for Davis over Jokic,  I understand the Nuggets are much better than the Pelicans, and like Beal, I don’t have a problem if Jokic gets the nod over AD. Team records aside, Davis is the better player. He keeps more defenders up at night than Jokic.

That being said, Jokic and LeBron are no brainer locks. As was Lillard. The others were close. Gobert is anchoring the fourth best defence in the league, while putting up career highs in points and rebounds. Towns has elevated his game since Butler left, and is still putting up elite numbers off very good percentages. Those two were fairly easy calls.

This is where it got really hard — my finalists were Holiday, Westbrook, DeRozan and Aldridge. No matter how historically poor Westbrook is shooting, like Davis, he’s just a pain for opponents. Defenders are much more scared of Westbrook than DeRozen While he’s still averaging a triple-double, what’s more impressive is his decision making. His passing has improved, as shown by the success of Steven Adams. Recording 24 assists in a game on a team with zero shooters is impressive (albeit in double OT). He has fit really nicely with George, and has taken a backseat when appropriate. I wasn’t going to put both Spurs in, and I decided that if I were to pick one, it would be DeRozan, due to the fact that he has had to be the primary facilitator with no true point guard healthy. So the last spot was between DeRozan and Holiday. I ultimately went with Holiday due to his two-way ability. While DeRozan is average at best on defence, Holiday is a First Team All-Defender who is showing why. Not to mention he’s averaging over 20 points and eight assists per game. If Davis or somebody else has to miss the game due to injury, DeRozan would be my replacement.

 

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