Earlier tonight, the NBA announced, via broadcast on TNT, the reserves for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, which were selected by NBA head coaches. These players complete the pool of players team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will choose from in the NBA All-Star Draft next Thursday.
Let’s take a look at the All-Stars for each conference, although with the draft, each team will very likely have players from each conference
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Who got snubbed?
With just 12 players from each conference named All-Stars, there’s bound to be snubs or players that deserved to be All-Stars. Especially in the Western Conference, where LeBron James came West last season and Kawhi Leonard rejoined the West this season, the talent is stacked.
In the Western Conference, you can make a case for Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who is putting up all-star caliber numbers and has his team in a great position to make the playoffs, which is something not many expected. Morant is averaging 17.5 points, 7.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game and he seems to have separated himself from the rest of the field and looks to be well on his way to earning Rookie of the Year. He’s breathing new life into a Grizzlies team that needed it badly, and his ability to lead as a rookie should not be overlooked.
This will be the first year since 1997 that the San Antonio Spurs will not have a representative in the All-Star game. It’s also the last time the Spurs had a losing record, but DeMar DeRozan is having an All-Star worthy season. The four-time All-Star has season averages of 23 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He’s also shooting at a 53.5 percent clip from the field. Those numbers have also risen in his last 10 games. The Spurs will likely be in a late-season race for the 8th seed, but without DeRozan, they likely would have flatlined a long time ago.
Phoenix Suns wing Devin Booker is the other candidate I’d consider as a snub. He puts up a ton of points at 27.1 per, but he also manages to distribute the ball (6.4 apg) while sharing the backcourt with an elite passer in Ricky Rubio. The Suns are much-improved this year, and that’s in no small part due to Booker. His shooting percentages from two, three and free throws are at career highs. His effective field goal percentage and two-point percentage are both in the top 80 percentile for NBA wings
In the Eastern Conference, you could also make a case for Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond and Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon. On another level, Pistons guard Derrick Rose and Celtics forward Jaylen Brown could also be considered, but the cases for Beal, Drummond, and Brogdon are easier to make.
If I were to tell you that a player averaging nearly 29 points, 6.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game would not be in the All-Star Game, you might call me crazy. Sure, you can make the point that Bradley Beal and the Wizards are not having a successful season by most standards, but they’ve also yet to play a game with injured point guard John Wall. The Wizards have also had injuries to other key players, yet Beal continues to be there leading his team.
The under .500 curse could have bitten Drummond (and Rose), as well as the Pistons are 17-32, but I’m not sure you could ask much more of the big man. He scores 17.2 points a game, leads the NBA in rebounds per game with 15.6, and he’s adding two steals and nearly two swats a game.
When it comes to Brogdon though, that previous argument goes out the window. Not only has Brogdon led the Pacers to a 31-17 record, good enough for fifth in the West, and just 1.5 games out of third place, he’s down it when most expected the Pacers to be cellar-dwellers with the loss of Victor Oladipo to injury. Oladipo just returned and now the Pacers look primed to make a push for one of the top three spots in the West. Aside from averaging 17 points, 7.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, you have to respect Brogdon for his leadership and keeping the Pacers more than just afloat. He probably deserved to join teammate Domantas Sabonis, but then that brings up the toughest question.
Who do you cut?
Everyone that was selected and even the snubs I listed are well-deserving of All-Star status, so you’re really splitting hairs when trying to figure out who to leave out so that one of the snubs makes it in.
In the West, the majority of the conversation seems to center around guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Westbrook may have his share of turnovers and isn’t the most efficient shooter from beyond the arch, but the numbers he is putting up are a surprise to me considering he shares the ball and the backcourt with James Harden. Eric Gordon, when healthy, also has to get his, so it’s hard to keep Westbrook off, but considering Westbrook gives the Rockets two All-Stars, maybe giving the nod to DeRozan or Booker may have been another way to go. Paul may not have better numbers than the snubbed players, but what he has done in OKC has to be respected. Most expected they would be at the bottom of the West and Paul would not spend much time in a Thunder uniform, but he has them looking at a playoff spot currently.
The East is just as hard. I might be tempted to give Brogdon the nod over Kyle Lowry, but the Toronto Raptors are in a place no one expected them to be, number two in the East with a 33-14 record. After losing Kawhi Leonard, many expected the Raptors to drop, but Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have kept them a very competitive team that will be a tough out in the playoffs.
There could be some injury replacements named soon, so keep an eye on the players listed as snubs because they are probably the most likely to be selected.
The 2020 All-Star Game will be on February 16 at the United Center with Team LeBron tipping off against Team Giannis on TNT at 8 p.m. ET.