The 2023 NBA All-Star starters were announced on Thursday. Like every year, many people on social media disagree with the results. Many think Joel Embiid should be starting, many think Jaylen Brown should have made it over Kyrie Irving, who was suspended at the beginning of the year, and a ton of people believe Zion Williamson, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant should not be starting due to the time they have missed.
Even though certain players might have been snubbed, luckily, there are a lot of reserves for each conference. There will be at least two guards, three frontcourt players, and two extra players, either guard or frontcourt; we will call them Wild Cards. These are the players who deserve to be All-Star reserves. The stats are accurate as of January 29th. Honorable mentions are De’Aaron Fox, Trae Young, Kawhi Leonard, and Bam Adebayo.
Check out all of our other NBA articles.
Western Conference Guards
Let us be honest, SGA probably should be starting this game. Yes, Steph has been fantastic this season, but he is also just coming off missing about a month of games. SGA is averaging 30.9 Points Per Game (PPG), 5.6 Assists Per Game (APG), and a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 27.4, which is 4th in the league. The Thunder were supposed to be tanking this year, but they had other plans as they are not close to being one of the five worst teams in the league, and SGA is the main reason for that. He has been criticized a ton as an “empty stats” type of guy, but he has been proving everyone wrong this year.
Morant has had an awesome season. He is averaging 27.3 PPG, 8.1 APG, and has a PER of 23.4. With all these incredible stats, he is also leading his team to the second seed in the West. The Grizzlies had a great record last year without him, which led many to think he is not too impactful, but it is pretty clear how important he is to the team this year.
Western Conference Frontcourt
Markkanen is pretty much a lock to make the roster as a reserve, and many think he should be starting over Zion. He is averaging 24.9 PPG, 8.6 Rebounds Per Game (RPG), and has a PER of 22.9. Utah started the season hot, and though they have taken a huge step back, Markkanen has been just as effective. It will be very interesting to see how Markkanen does the rest of the year, depending on how the Jazz decide how to rebuild.
This would be Sabonis’s second All-Star appearance, his first as a King. He is having a terrific season, and some could argue he should be a starter. He is averaging 18.5 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 7.3 APG, and has a PER of 22.8. Not only has he been fantastic, but he also has his team as the 3rd seed. This will probably be the first time they make the playoffs since 2006.
Even though Davis was out for a pretty long period, his dominance for his time on the court warrants a spot on the team. In 27 games played, he is averaging 26.7 PPG, 12 RPG, and has a PER of 30.8. The Lakers are 13th in the West as of Sunday, but they are only three games behind the fifth seed, four games behind the fourth seed, and five games behind the third seed. Of course, the Lakers’ destiny mostly depends on the health of LeBron James and Davis, so it will be interesting to see how they play post-All-Star break.
Western Conference Wild Cards
After being injured for a good amount of last season, Lillard has fully redeemed himself by going on an absolute tear this year. Even though his team has not been playing so great, he is still averaging 30.1 PPG, 7.3 APG, and has a PER of 25.6. Even though Lillard does not have a huge history of winning in Portland, what he has done for years now is extremely impressive, and we are witnessing a future Hall of Famer in his prime.
George has been very quietly having a fantastic season. He has been averaging 23.5 PPG, 6 RPG, 5.3 APG, and has a PER of 20.5. Even though he has not been the best player on his team on a per-game basis, he has been more consistent and available to them. The Clippers are currently fourth in the West and just finished up a five-game win streak, and only a game and a half being the third seed. Teams out West do not want to face a healthy Kawhi and George in the playoffs.
Eastern Conference Guards
Jaylen has been absolutely awesome this year. He is averaging 27 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and has a PER of 19.5. Brown got slandered a ton after missing both free throws in overtime against the Knicks. However, he fully redeemed himself by going off against the Lakers by scoring 37 points, 11 of them in overtime. Many have been questioning how much impact he truly has on the Celtics, but 27 PPG scorers certainly do not grow on trees, and it would be foolish to think they could just replace him with role players. Even though the Celtics have not been as great as they were at the beginning of the year, they are still at the top of the league, and Jaylen is one of the main reasons for that.
After having a disappointing 2021-22 season, Harden has bounced back big time. Even though he is not necessarily on the same level he was in Houston, he has still been extremely solid and a big reason why the Sixers have been playing so well lately. He is averaging 21.4 PPG, 11.2 APG, 6.3 RPG, and has a PER of 22.4. Even though he is not the best player on his team, he is still absolutely a main part of why the Sixers have been a top 2 team in the East this year.
Eastern Conference Frontcourt
Embiid is hands down the best player not to be a starter. Philly fans have not been this angry since Kawhi’s buzzer-beater. With this being said, if you care about All-Star Starters and you are a Philly fan, the anger is somewhat justified. Embiid is averaging 33.8 PPG (1st in the league), 10 RPG, and has a PER of 31. Embiid is an MVP front-runner, and the fact that he outplayed Nikola Jokić so much on Saturday will certainly help his case, and who knows, maybe three months from now we might be laughing at the fact that Embiid was not a starter.
Despite his team being more than a disappointment so far this year, Butler has still been consistently pretty good all year long. He has always been the textbook definition of “He’s better than what that stat sheet says”, even though his numbers haven’t been bad at all, either. He is averaging 21.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5 APG, and has a PER of 25.7. After being the first seed last year, the Heat are currently sixth in the East. With this being said, it is hard to ever count Butler out in the playoffs, so don’t be surprised if you see the Heat win a playoff series or two.
Randle has put together one of the more underrated seasons this year. After playing like a superstar in 2021 and taking a huge step back in 2022, he has been redeeming himself pretty well this year. He is averaging 24.7 PPG, 10.8 RPG and has a PER of 21.2. His superb performance against the Celtics on Thursday probably cemented his spot on the team. He had 37 points and nine rebounds with multiple clutch shots in an overtime victory. The Knicks have certainly surpassed expectations so far this year, and Randle has been a huge reason why.
Check us out on our socials:
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk
Follow Chris Driscoll on Twitter @americanhooper
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images