Analyzing the NBA All-Star Game Startersby Zach Gotlieb February 20, 2021 2 comments
We can argue whether there should be an All-Star game this year until the dogs come home. Numerous players, including the big names such as LeBron James, have openly spoken out against having an All-Star game amidst a pandemic in which over 30 games have been postponed or rescheduled. However, game or not, there was always going to be All-Star selections. The other night, the All-Star starters were announced for each conference. Everyone has their beliefs about whether or not said player should be the starter over someone else. Let’s go through each starter and see how they stack up against the competition.
The All-Star Reserves will be announced on Tuesday, February 23 while the All-Star Game will be on March 7 in Atlanta.
Western Conference Starters
Captain: LeBron James – SF – Los Angeles Lakers
17th All-Star Selection and Start
This one should come as no surprise here. With name recognition and ending with he’s having an excellent year, LBJ not only starts but gets the most votes to land him as team captain is the least surprising announcement among non-surprising announcements here.
Nikola Jokic – C – Denver Nuggets
Third All-Star Selection – First Start
There’s no one particularly close to competing with him here. The Joker has been dominant in all but maybe three games this year. He’s been the Western Conference Player of the Week twice on the way to Western Conference Player of the Month for the month of January. The ease at which the game appears to come for him is something to the likes of legends. The comps to Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird are living larger and freer than ever before. He was a near-unanimous selection to start and should be firmly in the MVP race throughout this season.
Stephen Curry – PG – Golden State Warriors
Seventh All-Star Selection and Start
Steph is another one that’s hard to argue. After losing Klay Thompson to another season-ending injury before the season started, Steph was left as the lone true scorer on this roster and has brought a roster that is maybe an eight-seed at best and kept them in the playoff race. The dude is hitting 43 percent of his threes this year. He’s shooting a ridiculous 61.4 percent eFG percentage. The greatest shooter of all time could be making a legitimate argument that this is the best version of himself so far. His team may not be winning a ton of games, but the 16 they have won are almost all because of him.
Kawhi Leonard – SF – Los Angeles Clippers
Fifth All-Star Selection and Start
After getting embarrassed in the second round of the playoffs last year, the Clippers are on a revenge tour. Leonard is leading that charge. He’s sitting at around career-high averages in PPG, eFG percent, and shooting percentage while also being the leader of their defense. He’s also got Paul George, who’s looking significantly better than he did in the bubble last year. It helps that he’s in Los Angeles, but this selection is acceptable. He’s having an excellent year.
Luka Doncic – PG – Dallas Mavericks
Second All-Star Selection and Start
Finally, one that we can criticize. Not to get it twisted, Luka is having a very successful year and doing his thing. He’s one of the faces of the league that has the name recognition of fan voters. That is ultimately what decided this decision. The votes between him and Damian Lillard were tied in players and media voting. Fan votes were the tiebreaker, and name recognition airs on the side of Texas teams than in Oregon.
Of the five starters, Doncic is the only one that draws large amounts of criticism. I would have given the nod to Lillard. The numbers are very similar, and the Blazers sit at 18-10 and fourth in the west while Dallas is 10th. Further, Dame is running without CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic and keeping this team afloat. Both are worthy of starting, and it’s fitting that it came down to a small discrepancy in the fan votes that separate them.
Eastern Conference Starters
Captain: Kevin Durant – SF – Brooklyn Nets
11th All-Star Selection – Ninth Start
This is incredible and well-deserved for the Durantula (also, why didn’t this name stick?). Coming off missing a full season due to a torn Achilles tendon, it was hard to gauge how much of the original KD we would get back from a catastrophic injury. Suffice it to say, we’ve gotten every bit of the original Durant back and some. He’s been phenomenal, and even among a newly constructed super team, he’s looking like the alpha dog, which is the one thing we haven’t seen him do in his career. Congrats to KD on a well-deserved All-Star nod and deserving captain vote.
Joel Embiid – C – Philadelphia 76ers
Fourth All-Star Selection and Start
Embiid has been an absolute terror this year. He’s been dominant on both ends and critical to the Sixers’ success this year as they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. Embiid is averaging a career-high in points and all shooting marks. He’s answering all questions about his effectiveness on that end. He’s among the leaders in the MVP conversation this year. There’s also an argument to be made that he should have been the captain this year as well.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – PF – Milwaukee Bucks
Fifth All-Star Selection and Start
Giannis seems to be flying under the radar this year, which is wild for a man of his stature, but he’s been phenomenal this season. He’s averaging 28-11-5.5 per game this year and is looking dominant with a solid supporting cast. The Bucks sit at third in the conference and in large part with his dominance. There’s not anyone that competes with him as the starter, and he wins by default for being so good and having the name recognition. The Alphabet (another name that should have stuck) gets another deserving nod to start this controversial All-Star game.
Bradley Beal – SG – Washington Wizards
Third All-Star Selection – First Start
No player defines a victim of the environment better than Beal. Despite a porous record, there is virtually zero blame that can be put on Beal for that. He can sit with 40 point games consistently, and the team around him will still find a way to lose. That’s just the Wizards for you. There is an argument to be had about potentially giving Zach LaVine the nod here. While Lavine is having an All-Star worthy season and will likely end up as one of the reserves, Beal is the correct choice here as he leads the entire league in scoring and dominates games with elite shooting despite a bad supporting cast.
Kyrie Irving – PG – Brooklyn Nets
Seventh All-Star Selection – Fifth Start
Another honor for Kyrie that is deserved. Given the name recognition and being a key part of one of the all-time dominant offenses in the league since the James Harden trade, it’s hard to say no to being named started. You could argue for guys like Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum; however, Boston has not produced anywhere near the results it would take to get them to the top. We can argue about his motivations and actions as much as we want; we can never argue about his basketball ability. He’s been able to take it up a notch and continue to grow in an offense that on paper should be more ball-dominant than it has been.
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