The final East and West All Star teams for this season have been officially announced today, and as usual there was some controversy with several big names left of off the list. There has been much debate over this year’s All Star lineups ever since it was released that the guy averaging a triple double, Westbrook, was not in the West starting lineup.
Many media experts have went overboard with the criticism of the starting lineups. Jalen Rose even went as far as to suggest that voting for the starters should be limited to media members and players, not fans.
Let’s just get one thing straight.The All Star Game is nothing if not an exhibition game created with the sole intention of entertaining NBA fans. It is a spectacle to let fans all over the world see the players they want to see most, put up a show they love to watch. It is not an award given to the best performing players at the mid way point of the season. Nor is it a recognition of players doing well on teams with great records. Team winning records, player statistics, are all secondary to how popular and entertaining a player is. Ultimately, that is how fans really vote for their All Stars… They’ll just pick whoever they like most. That, in essence, is what the game truly represents.
With that said, here are who I would have liked to see make the final All Star lineup.
Starters: Kyrie Irving, Demar Derozan, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokoumpo, Joel Embiid
Reserves: Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kemba Walker, Hassan Whiteside, John Wall
So essentially I just have Embiid and Whiteside replacing Love/Millsap, Embiid starting over Butler.
Thomas absolutely deserves his spot on this year’s team. Here is a guy who is probably really 5’6″ at most, averaging 28 points a game, carrying the Celtics on his back in multiple fourth quarters. And he’s doing it in the most entertaining way, with his jerky dribble moves, confusing defenders and getting to the basket finishing over seven footers with an array of unbelievable moves. Pound for pound we have not had a player like this since Allen Iverson.
Embiid, whether you think he’s a rookie or not, is clearly an All Star. He’s everything the Sixers could have hoped for when they started the painful ‘Process’ all those years ago. Whether he’s on the court, all eyes, fans, coaches, players, are on him. He’s clearly the best player on his team, and already in the top tier of centers especially in the East.
Adding Embiid makes the East way more entertaining. Kyrie would supply plenty of flashy street ball dribbles, Demar will surely have multiple highlights of acrobatic dunks, Giannis will showcase his freakish athleticism, LeBron will be LeBron, and Embiid brings the freshness of youth to add an extra touch of fun and anticipation.
Starters: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis
Reserves: Demarcus Cousins, Nikola Jokic, Blake Griffin, Karl Anthony Towns, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard
Screw the rules. Instead of arguing all day about Westbrook’s absence from the lineup, why not just start all three of Curry, Westbrook and Harden? Whichever side you’re on, there can be arguments about leaving out any one of these three. It’s not that Kawhi hasn’t been absolutely MVP calibre this season, is just that his quiet, no nonsense style may not make for as great an All Star show as having Westbrook, Harden and Durant reunited. Yes, this is a cruel reminder to OKC fans they could have had all three guys on their team.
With the reserves, I went back to my point that this is essentially an exhibition game meant to entertain. So I picked guys who would be way more exciting to watch. Blake is back just in time from a lengthy injury, KAT has had several ferocious posterizers this season, and Lillard is just so much more fun to watch than Draymond.
These guys are all fun, but Nikola Jokic is a whole different animal. This young big has been a revelation on the Nuggets. He’s not what you’d call athletic, looks and moves a little sluggish, but boy can he play. Here is a 7 footer who’s by far the best passer on his team, throwing crazy passes that remind me of Larry Bird. No looks, behind the backs, bounce passes angled to defy physics, he does them all. There’s no doubt about it by now, the Denver Nuggets run everything thrpugh Jokic. He runs the break. In half court sets he sets the picks, handles the ball, makes the right passes, and finished at the tim. Having a big who passes like him the All Star game will only make it better ten fold.