Earlier this week, the NBA All-Star reserves list were released for the East and West, just one week after the starters were announced on the NBA on TNT broadcast. The rosters are now complete, and they’re far from perfect. Under the new system, the captains, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, pick their teams from the pool of selected players, first from the 8 starters (Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, James Harden, Giannis Antetekumpo, Kyrie Irving, Demar Derozan, Joel Embiid), followed by the 14 reserves (Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Karl Anthony Town, Jimmy Butler, Lamarcus Aldridge, Russel Westbrook, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, Kevin Love, Al Horford, Kristaps Porzingis).
The starters list is fairly solid, featuring only a single controversial pick in Demarcus Cousins, as he and Anthony Davis were both starters coming from the same .500 team, although his statistics have been MVP caliber. Had he not been on such a horrible Pelicans roster outside of himself and Davis, this wouldn’t be a topic of discussion. Sixers’ forward Joel Embiid as starter turned some heads, but the East has no front-court player who’s clearly better than Embiid. Either way, it’ll be a lot funner to see the incredible personality of “The Process” take the floor, as opposed to Old-man Al (Horford).
The reserves list were not as perfect, as the coaches messed up with a few picks, leaving a trail of snubs behind them.
Lamarcus Aldridge is a clear choice, leading the Kawhi-less Spurs to the third seed while averaging 22.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, on a 49% FGP. Along with him are Karl Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Russel Westbrook as the obvious choices. Klay Thompson and Draymodn Green were not as clear, and of the two I would remove Draymond. Despite his role as the heart of his team, Draymond’s statistics (11.3PPG, 7.8RPG, 7.5APG, 1.3SPG, and 1.3BPG) have been far from impressive this season. Sure, he is doing a lot of things for the team, but not nearly enough to warrant an all star position. In comparison, Julius Randle, of the 11th seed Lakers, is averaging 13.6PPG and 7.2RPG from the bench, with fewer assists, steals, and blocks. Randle is seen as the 6th or 7th best player on that Lakers team, and obviously is not an All-Star. If you mean to tell me that 5 more assists, and 1 more steal/block would be enough to make Randle go from a sub-.500 role-player to an NBA all-star, then everyone would be an all-star next season. Had Green been on any other team, his numbers would be seen as nothing incredible.
Carrying on, Damian Lillard is the second questionable choice from the west. Snubbed year after year, Dame finally found vengeance in being the choice that snubbed the other rightful All-Star. The difference between Lillard and Green is that Lillard is putting up numbers. 25.2 PPG, 4.8RPG, 6.6APG, 43.6%FGP and 36.4%3PP. Those are stats near Steph Curry’s first MVP Season, in 2015, as he put up 23.8PPG, 7.7APG, and 4.3RPG. Only difference is Curry’s team was a 67-15 first seed in the West that won the championship, while Lillard’s 25-22 Blazers are fighting for a playoff spot, currently barely holding the 8th seed.
I would have much rather seen someone like Chris Paul or Paul George make the team. Paul has been the anchor of this Houston Rockets team, and despite missing a large chunk of time, he has been averaging 19.1PPG, 8.9APG, 5.9RPG, and 1.9SPG. With him on the roster, in the 28 games he has played, the rockets are 23-5, on track for a 67 win year. Paul George has also been putting up his fair share, with 20.9PPG, 3.0APG, 5.6RPG, 2.1SPG, on 43.6%FGP and 42.2%3PP. His team is the 5th best in the east, with a record of 27-10, and that is in large part due to him. While he doesn’t take on the role that Lillard does, his stats show up more in the win column, meanwhile Green barely comes close to any of the stats shown by Paul or George, producing as the 4th best player, and 6th best offensive option.
Oladipo and Porzingis are on fringe play-off teams, but are upcoming stars that earned the spot. Bradley Beal has been a force on offense, carrying the wizards through this bumpy season. Al Horford seemed odd, until you remember that he is the second best player on the second best team in the NBA, number one in the East. His numbers carry the same argument as Draymond Green’s do, but in a less competitive west, on a less stacked Celtics, so he gets a nod. Kyle Lowry is producing less numbers, more efficiently, and only because he chose to sacrifice for the good of the team, evidently helping the Raptors to a stronger offensive, oriented around ball movement, and such humbleness deserves reward. So then there were 2. Love and Wall.
Kevin Love is undoubtedly the second best player on the Cavaliers this season. Such a position would usually warrant an all-star spot, but not when the Cavs suck. Tough, but true, whether or not you believe they’ll pick it up, they have been horrendous on defense and subpar on offense, and the only reason they get any All-Star spots after the embarrassing display of effort they have displayed this season is because they have a recently joined member of the 30,000 point club, and top 5 (arguably top 3) player in NBA history in LeBron James.
John Wall has missed a large chunk of games, and has averaged numbers below recent years. The Wizards also can only beat teams from the top of the NBA apparently, choking enough games to have the as a team fighting for the playoff spot with the rest of the dogs. So, they definitely don’t deserve another spot, and Beal has just been doing more.
Instead of these two players, who are the second best on underperforming teams, I would chose Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond. The nod to Dragic would mostly be a nod to the Heat, recognizing the great year the great display of basketball they have put on since the 11-30 start to last season, since the having been a top 5 team in the NBA. Dragic, being their best player, will give the 4th seed (soon to be 3rd if the Cavs don’t pick it up) some credit. Andre Drummond began the season off carrying the Pistons to be a top 3 team, and while they have been fairly disappointing in the last 25 games, winning only 7, Drummond has kept up the big numbers, with around 14 point and 15 rebounds, while keeping himself as a defensive anchor.
With these four changes, I would rate these rosters 9.5/10, only taking off half a point for forcing us to choose 12 from each conference, causing players like Lou Williams, Devin Booker, CJ McCollum, and Andrew Wiggins to miss out in place of a collection of weak East petty picks.
Demarcus Cousins went down with a torn achilles this past week, in the final minute of a classic game against the Houston Rockets. Being an All-Star starter, Boogie’s position must be replaced, by choice of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has decided Paul George will enter the game as replacement.
Paul George, being one of my choices to replace Draymond Green and Damian Lillard, is now no longer a snub. Therefore, seeing that only Chris Paul is out of the game, I would suggest he should’ve been in place of Draymond Green, and Dame would therefore keep his spot. The reasoning for Dame over Dray is simply due to the fact that Lillard does more for his team, with less help. Carrying the offensive load, with only an inconsistent C.J Mccollum available as another scorer, Lillard has made himself more of a presence on the Blazers.
The best way to phrase would be through a hypothetical; how much would the Blazers fall of without Lillard? What about the Warriors without Draymond. In a 4th-9th seed battle in the West right now, the Blazers are likely to fall out of the playoffs with only C.J and Nurkic to rely on. Meanwhile, the Warriors would go from unstoppable to probably unstoppable, holding on to two top 10 defenders, three top 10 scorers, and two top 5 shooters, along with a bench consisting of freak-athletes and veteran minds from top to bottom. Ya, they’ll be fine without Dray.