Earlier this week, the NBA All-Star voting came to a close and LeBron James and Steph Curry were the leading vote getters in their respective conferences. With this result, they will serve as “captains” in charge of the two teams of competing All-Stars.
—> Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins <—
These 10 players who will serve as the starters, were selected via the NBA fans, players, and media. Now the head coaches are left with the responsibility of picking the remaining All-Stars, who are referred to as “reserves”. These reserves consist of 2 guards, 3 front court players, and 2 wild card players per conference. Once all the All-Stars have been selected, the team captains will then perform an old school recess pick-em and choose their reserves regardless of conference affiliation. Since the NBA is trying not to be petty, they are not televising the draft and we will have to wait until afterwards for someone to leak the order of selection so we can ridicule whoever ends up being last pick.
Below are my selections for the reserve All-Stars. I may not have been fair, and I totally am biased, but you can’t tell me that if you put these guys out on the floor you won’t get a good show and exhibition of supreme basketball talent.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers: 24p/5r/4a, 48% (field)/40% (three)/79% (line)
This season we have been fortunate enough to witness a unleashed Oladipo who is able to be the main focal point on the 6th best offense in the NBA. He is scoring at a clip that is 8 points higher than his career average that he acquired at his previous teams, Orlando and OKC. Surprisingly, he is averaging more ppg than Paul George ever has, further solidifying that the trade that brought him home to Indy was a win-win. He is leading the improbable Pacers to what might be a their third playoff appearance in a row. This time the hopes are that they make it out of the first round, which has not happened since 2014 when they made the Eastern Conference Finals. He is entering his prime at 25 years of age and is on a team friendly contract, making $21mm each year until the end of 2021. At the prices most NBA players are calling for, this guy is a steal.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors: 16p/6r/7a 41%/39%/88%
He might not be the big man on campus in Canada right now, but Lowry still deserves a lot of credit for being one of the core guys on this second placed Raptors team. He is fourth in the East in assists among guards and has helped onboard guys like Serge Ibaka in recent years. Lowry is featured in all of the top twenty most played lineups according to 82games.com. This may not be his best season, but he is without a doubt an elite guard in the East.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks – 23p/7r/1a/2.4b, 43%/38%/81%
The Unicorn has trailed off slightly these past few weeks, no doubt, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the most intriguing big men in the league. He leads the NBA in blocks, despite the fact that I’m not sure his feet ever leave the floor. His 8’ wingspan is bizarre and makes him a legitimate rim protector. His rebounding numbers are less that you would expect from an All-Star big man but Kristaps makes most of his money on the perimeter on offense where he is shooting 38% from 3 and puts up nearly 5 a game. This screws with defenses and causes them to bring out a post defender and is helping his teammate Enes Kanter nearly average a double-double.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers – 19p/9r/1.7a, 46%/40%/88%
You might not know it from some of the slumping Cav’s recent contests, but KLove is having a sneaky good season. This four time All-Star is grabbing numbers better than his career averages in points, and most shooting categories. If I am putting together a new age roster, I want him out there to help spread the floor even more for guys like Kyrie and Butler. I may have gone a little non traditional with my lineup but you’ll have to press on and read the wild cards to see if I continue with this trend.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons – 14p/15r/4a, 54%/63%
Since he has not made a three point attempt this season, you are reading his percentages correctly. Drummond is finally shooting a higher percentage from the line than the field. This offseason he reinvented himself at the line and has instantly increased his value. The Pistons are missing some pieces no doubt, but Drummond is a monster on the boards and you know what you are going to get from him night in and night out. There is a lot to be said for consistency. This would be the center’s second All-Star appearance.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards – 23p/4r/4a, 46%/36%79%
When most people think of the Wizards, they think of it as John Wall’s team. However, The tide seems to be turning and Brad Beal is taking over in the capital city. The Wiz sit in fifth place in the East right now, 8.5 games back of the Celtics. This is trending as the second year in a row that he has averaged 23 or more points and the 24 year old is starting to make a name for himself outside of the shadow of Mr. Wall. By most measures, he had a better season last year, but his performances during the absence of John Wall due to injury have proven his worth to the world.
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat – 17p/4/5a, 43%/35%/76%
The Dragon. Dude has never made an All-Star team. I just felt that someone from the surprisingly good Miami Heat had to make it this year. Goran is the anchor for this team that thrives on spreading out the workload. They are executing what the Hawks have tried to do for years. They have 8, yes 8, guys who average double figures scoring. Dragic is an underrated guard in my book and his consistency is key for the Heat’s success this year. His clutch play has helped the Heat maintain a +48 point differential in clutch time when he is on the floor.
Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves – 21p/5r/5a, 47%/35%/88%
Even if you haven’t been watching a lot of basketball this year, you have probably heard about Jimmy Butler. Like Oladipo, Butler found himself on a new team this year after the Bulls and Timberwolves worked out a deal to send him and Justin Patton to the Minnesota in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen. Both teams received great players in this swap as Lauri is quickly making a splash in the league for his three point shooting abilities. The most important thing that Butler brings to the table is consistency. He has averaged 20 points or higher each season since 2014-15 season and has deservedly been an All-Star since then. He is going to grab 4 boards and pass out 4-5 dimes a night. That is something that many teams are missing, and the fact that he is now able to do this on an actual good team and make them better, that is the true sign of an All-Star. Could this be the first year that the Wolves make the playoffs since 2004? You betcha it will be.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns – 25p/4r/4a/1s, 44%/38%/88%
D-Booker!!! If you have ever listened to the Backdoor Cut Podcast right here on The BarnBurner Podcast Network (and you should), you know I had to put this guy on the list. Give me a young, fun guy who gets buckets and I’ll give you someone to build a team around. Booker is that guy. Even though his team is crap, last in defense and close to the bottom in offense, he is a player that many teams would be happy to have. He plays with passion and gets buckets. That’s why he is a BarnBurner favorite.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves – 20p/12r/2a/1.6b, 53%/40%/83%
All aboard the Towns Train! CHOO CHOO! At the beginning of the year there were some questions about the 22 year old Center from UK. He had a slow start but is now averaging a double-double and shooting 3’s at a 40% pace. This is an area that he has improved on each year in the league. He might not have numbers this year that are far exceeding his previous two seasons, but this year his team is actually good. He is no longer “good numbers, bad team” guy (stole that phrase from Bill Simmons). This 2015-2016 Rookie of the year has earned a birth in his first All-Star game.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs – 22p/8r/2a/1b, 49%/34%/83%
For the past several years, the Spurs have been Kawhi Leonard’s team. Well, second to Pop, but you get the picture. With Leonard missing almost the entire season so far and likely going forward due to injury, LMA has been the MVP for this team. Using a combination of voodoo magic and experience, the Spurs currently sit in third place in the West. No one else on the team is even coming close to LaMarcus’ output and this has been a revival year for him. He is a five time All-Star and this year part of the reason he should go to LA this year is because he is pacing above his career averages in ppg, rebounds, and shooting percentages, on a (somehow) good team.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors – 21p/4r/2a, 48%/45%/88%
To be honest, I did everything that I could to not put Klay on this list, but the more research I did, the more undeniable that it was he belonged on this list. He is playing at the best level of his life statistic wise and has not gotten enough credit for the role that he played in Steph’s absence. The Warriors have one of the best rosters of all time (again) and to not have triple representation in LA in February would be a crime. Klay leads the league in 3’s made and is fifth in 3pt percentage. Gotta put the guy in. This should be his fourth appearance in the exhibition.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder – 24p/9.7r/9.7a, 46%/31%/70%
If you are a fan of basketball, as soon as you heard about the trade to send Paul George to OKC you got excited to see how that would pan out. Things have not disappointed. Westbrook may still have his Kobe-like tendencies as he leads the league in field goal attempts, but he is also very close to averaging a triple double again similar to his MVP season last year. Somehow no one is talking about it! I’ve officially made a mental not to keep tabs on this development the rest of the season to see how it pans out. I think it’s pretty self explanatory that he has to be in this game.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers – 25p/5r/6.5a 42%/35%/92%
There has to be a reason that the Trail Blazers are always in the playoff hunt. Dame is half of that reason. Due to the high amount of awesome point guards in the West, he has been an All-Star less than half of his career despite always being a 20 ppg guy. I’ve got him on this list over guys like Paul George and Chris Paul because he is the main dude on this playoff-bound team and deserves some respect.
If you like what you read, cool, if not, it’s ok to be wrong. Chirp at me @barnburnerbro on twitter and enjoy the league!
Also, check out our Backdoor Cut Podcast, with myself, @barnburnerslim and @thebarnchief
Images courtesy of NBA.com and wikipedia