With the NBA season heading into February, the All-Star Game is quickly approaching and rosters for both the Western and Eastern Conferences have already been released. The Daily enters the fray with its own picks for the all-star teams, each with five starters, two guards and three forwards, along with seven bench players consisting of two guards, three forwards and a pair of wild cards.
Guard: John Wall, Washington Wizards
A reserve on the actual all-star roster, Wall deserved to be named a starter this year. Wall is averaging 19.5 points per game (ppg), 4.3 rebound per game (rpg) and 9.8 assists per game (apg), which is the third most apg in the league and first in the Eastern Conference. The quick-footed point guard is slashing into the paint at an impressive rate, opening up lots of interior shots for himself and open jumpers for his teammates. He has also contributed heavily on the defensive side, averaging 2.1 steals per game. While he may have been overlooked because the Wizards have underachieved this season – the team is 21-26 after starting the season with high expectations – John Wall has been his usual dazzling self.
Guard: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Another reserve on the actual roster who deserves a starting spot, Butler, the young Bulls shooting guard, is having a breakout season, leading the Bulls to a 27-19 record despite Derrick Rose’s struggles. The 5th year guard is averaging 22.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.3 apg while playing his usual stellar defense. Butler leads Eastern conference shooting guards with a player efficiency rating (PER) of 21.97.
Forward: Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
A perennial star, James has been his typical superhuman self, averaging 24.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 6.4 apg and leading the team to the top of the Eastern conference standings with a 35-13 record. And he’s done all of this in spite of star point guard Kyrie Irving being sidelined with an injury and the shakeup with coach David Blatt’s firing by the Cavalier’s General Manager and replaced by Tyron Lue. The leading scorer in the eastern conference has led this Cavaliers team through some uncertain times and is very deserving of his 12th All-Star Game appearance.
Forward: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Another starter on the actual squad, Paul George has had one of the most impressive seasons in the NBA mostly because of how well he has bounced back from adversity. After suffering a brutal fracture that left a bone protruding from his leg during a Team USA scrimmage in August 2014, George has returned to form as if he had never been injured. George is averaging 23.1 ppg, 4.0 apg, and 7.0 rpg. More impressively, George has led a pretty underwhelming Pacers team to a 26-23 record.
Forward: Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Though the NBA only named him to the reserves, Paul Milsap deserves the starting nod in this year’s game. Milsap is one of the most underappreciated stars in today’s NBA. The 10th year veteran is averaging 17.7 ppg, 8.7 rpb, and 1.3 apg. Even more impressive, his Hawks are second in the Eastern Conference in PER. Milsap has led the Hawks to a 29-22 record.
Demar Derozan (Toronto Raptors): The Raptors leading scorer at 23.2 ppg is more than deserving of the reserve nod he was given, especially after being named a Kia Player of the Month for January.
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors): Lowry is the leader of the 33-16 Raptors. While he has no doubt earned a spot somewhere on the all-star roster this year, it’s hard to justify the starting spot he was given over the likes of Wall or Butler.
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks): The now nine-time All-Star leads a rejuvenated Knicks team this season and similarly deserves a roster spot, but the fans may have just been voting a familiar and popular name when they voted him a starter.
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons): The young big man leads the NBA in rebounds per game at 15.0, and the NBA probably got it right putting him on the reserves.
Chris Bosh (Miami Heat): The now 11-time All-Star has gotten past a heart-condition scare to return to his dominant ways. Bosh was also selected as a reserve for the actual game.
Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics): The first time All-Star is the leading scorer for the 29-22 Celtics with 21.4 ppg, and everybody likes to see a 5’9″ point guard make the big game.
Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat): The three-time NBA champion and now twelve time All-Star has bounced back nicely from constant knee injuries, though like Anthony he was probably the beneficiary of a strong fan base in getting the votes for the starting role.
Guard: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Last year’s MVP and a constant, unstoppable force on the court, the Warriors guard has somehow even improved on last season, averaging 29.8 ppg, 6.4 apg, and 5.3 rpg. Curry leads all players in points scored and three pointers made with 232. He is second in free throw percentage at 91.4 percent and second among guards at field goal percentage after Tony Parker, shooting 51.0 percent. Curry also has a significant impact on the defensive side of the ball, averaging 2.1 steals per game. The reigning MVP has led the Warriors to a 45-4 record, which has brought on comparisons with the famous 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls team led by Michael Jordan.
Guard: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The athletic eighth year veteran out of UCLA has upped his game in recent years and still manages to shine alongside fellow superstar Kevin Durant. Westbrook is averaging 24.0 ppg, as well as 7.6 rpg and 10.0 apg, second in the league only to Rajon Rondo. The tenacious Westbrook is also leading the league in steals per game at 2.4. Stats do not tell the whole story for Westbrook though. His athletic, high-flying style often leads to at least one momentum-shifting play per game. A major player on the Thunder, Westbrook is a strong candidate for many awards this season. Westbrook has more than earned the starting spot he was given.
Forward: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Westbrook’s co-star in the Sooner State, Durant has bounced back nicely this season. The former MVP is third in scoring this year, averaging 27.4 ppg on an impressive 50.7% field goal percentage to nicely complement his 8.0 rpb and 4.5 apg. The “slim reaper” is third in the NBA in player efficiency rating (PER), behind only Curry and Westbrook, with a PER of 28.2. Durant is also shooting an impressive 88.9 percent on free throws. He will start in his seventh All-Star Game this year.
Forward: Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Green, the former Spartan out of Michigan State who was not picked until the second round of the 2013 NBA draft, is proving all the doubters wrong this season. Green is averaging 14.6 ppg on 47.9 percent shooting from the field to go along with 9.5 rpg and 7.4 apg. Green also has the unique ability to guard any player effectively, gathering him from support from legends of the game. Hall of Famer Jerry West recognized Green, along with Curry, as one of the top ten players in the game, which is why we give him a starting spot instead of the reserve spot he was given.
Forward: Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
Leonard, the fifth year forward out of San Diego State, has led the Spurs to a 41-8 record, good for second in the Western Conference. Leonard is averaging 19.9 ppg, 6.6 rpb, and 2.5 apg as well as 1.8 steals per game. He is also leading the NBA in three point shooting percentage this season at 47.8 percent. This is a testament to Leonard’s work ethic after coming into the league with what scouts called a broken jumper. Steve Kerr, the Golden State Warriors head coach, called Leonard the best two-way player in the league, and it appears the voters agree as Leonard will be starting in his first All-Star Game this season.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans): The young big man is having another dominant season, averaging 23.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg for an underachieving Pelicans team, making his reserve selection for the actual team pretty fair.
James Harden (Houston Rockets): Last year’s MVP runner-up is averaging 27.9 ppg but isn’t quite matching his performance from last year across the board, so he probably deserves his reserve spot as well.
Demarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings): The talented big man is averaging 27.1 ppg and 11.3 rpg, making him another NBA reserve pick we agree with.
Chris Paul (Los Angelas Clippers): “CP3” has led the Clippers to fourth place in the west with a 32-17 record, despite Blake Griffin’s extended absence.
DeAndre Jordan (Los Angelas Clippers): Jordan is first in the league in field goal percentage – shooting 71.9 percent – second in the league with 13.8 rpg and is third in the league with 2.2 blocks per game. He deserves a spot despite his all-star snub.
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors): The latter of the “splash brothers” along with teammate Steph Curry is second in the league in threes made per game at 3.3. He will be a reserve in the All-Star Game.
Damian Lillard (Portland Trailblazers): The Trail Blazers guard has led the team to eighth place with a 24-26 record, despite losing forward LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs, and deserves a spot despite being left off the all-star roster.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), who will be starting the in All-Star game as a tribute to his retirement this season, and LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs), who was named a reserve, were left of our list.
All stats accurate as of 2/4/2016