The NBA All-Star Game reserves were announced on Thursday, and as has naturally become the norm every season, there are a chunk of players who deserved to make the All-Star Game who didn’t. There aren’t enough roster spots to please everybody. It’s just the way this thing works.
The All-Star Game is following the format it adopted last season, with the top-two vote-getters drafting a team of starters chosen by fans, media and players. The reserves were chosen by the coaches. Here’s how the rosters broke down:
Captains: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James
Starters: Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant Paul George, James Harden
Reserves: Bradley Beal, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic, Ben Simmons, Victor Oladipo*, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook, D’Angelo Russell
*Oladipo is out for the season and was replaced by Russell
The rosters look good at first, and this is an adequate representation of the NBA’s best talent. But there are a few players who deserved an all-star nod that were overlooked by the coaches.
Here are five snubs that stand out.
Harris is enjoying a breakout season. He’s averaging 21 points and eight rebounds on 43 percent shooting from three. He’s the best player on a Clippers team that’s in the playoff picture.
Harris has turned himself into a go-to guy. He’s going to command a max or near max contract in the ballpark of four year, $140 million. If he stays in Los Angeles, he can get a fifth year worth more than $45 million.
Who do you take out of the NBA All-Star Game to include Harris? Klay Thompson seems to be a reputation pick. This has not been one of best seasons, even though he came on strong in recent games.
They should have put D’Angelo Russell in the All-Star Game. He’s emerged as the best player on a Nets team in the playoffs. He’s found the consistency that’s eluded him early in his career. He’s scorching rims from three. He’s found balance on the basketball court.
If you haven’t watched much Nets basketball, this conversation isn’t for you. He’s grown into the leader Brooklyn hoped he would be. The snub would only be fuel to his internal fire.
UPDATE: Russell on Friday was named by commissioner Adam Silver to replace the injured Victor Oladipo on the Eastern Conference roster.
Butler made more headlines off the court than on it this season. That doesn’t mean he isn’t an all-star. He’s been Philly’s best perimeter defender and has come up big in crunch time when he’s gotten a clean look at making a play.
Minnesota was drastically better with Butler than without him. The 76ers are finding their way, but his presence adds another layer of star power they’ll need if they want to advance past the second round in the playoffs.
Butler’s game isn’t flashy, but it’s effective. He gets the job done. The Sixers, though, may not have deserved three all-stars. Butler may still end up replacing the injured Victor Oladipo.
The Jazz are rolling and Donovan Mitchell is at the center of it. He has accepted the responsibility of being Utah’s go-to guy, once again. The Jazz were not in the playoff picture when the calendar turned. They went 11-4 in the month of January to catapult themselves up the standings. Mitchell averaged 27.7 points in the month on outstanding shooting percentages.
He could have had Klay Thompson’s spot.
Only two players this century have been named all-stars in their rookie seasons: Blake Griffin and Yao Ming. Luka Doncic has the potential to be better than both. That’s a bold take, but it’s a testament to just how good the 19-year-old has been for Dallas.
Doncic’s game is far ahead of his time. He’s the European James Harden, a Slovenian step-back savant. The All-Star Game would have been better with Doncic in it. It’s understandable he didn’t make it. But he might have shown out if he did.