The Quarter-Season NBA All Stars

I write about awards, picks, and all-star spots all the time. And you know why? Because its just a fun thing to talk about. So I decided I’d give update on who the all stars of the league should be right now. Note: This is not my pick for who will be the all stars when all is said and done, as I’m sure some things will change. This is just who I think the true all stars of the league now that every team has played at least twenty games. Without further ado here are my 2018-19 Quarter-Season NBA All-Stars.

Eastern Conference Starters:

G – Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)

G – Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)

F – Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)

F – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

C – Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Eastern Conference Reserves:

G – Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)

G – Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)

F – Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons)

G/F – Jimmy Butler (Philadelphia 76ers)

G – Khris Middleton (Milaukee Bucks)

C – Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)

G – Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)

Explanation: The three forwards starters could not have been any easier to pick. Kawhi, Giannis, and my main man Joel Embiid are not only all stars but all have a legitimate case for MVP. Kawhi has replaced DeRozan and made the Raptors even better than last year, the Bucks are the most improved team in the league due to how Giannis has thrived under Coach Budenholzer, and Embiid has kept the Sixers afloat by taking his game to the next level, as he’s had an absurd thirteen games of thirty or more points and ten or more rebounds.

Quick tangent to gush over Embiid: As I get older, I spend more time watching sports, and I’m now at the point where I watch every Sixers game that I am able too. And with Embiid, it’s so worth it. I thought his post-ups were inefficient last year. Now? I’m shocked if he does not either score or draw foul shots. He’s just too strong and ferocious for anyone to stop him, and the best part is that he knows this. Embiid is fully healthy for the first time in his career, and that’s all he needed to prove he’s already capable of being the best player on a championship team.

As for the starting guards, Kemba has earned everyone’s respect (including mine) for lighting up the scoreboard and carrying a team whose second best player is Cody Zeller to a semi-decent record. Seriously Michael Jordan, get Kemba some help or trade him to someone more interesting. Moving to Lowry, I apologize to him and the country of Canada for the third year in a row. Every year I count him out and predict that he will miss the all star game. It’s like I just can’t accept that he’s a five time all star and therefore will probably make the hall of fame. But he’s been balling this year. He’s leading the league in assists and the conductor of Toronto’s lethal offense. Guys like Kyrie and Oladipo might have better stats, but I want to reward the teams that are doing the best, and no one is better than the Raptors right now.

That’s not to say that Kyrie and Oladipo are worse players. Kyrie is the only Celtic star playing up to standards right now and has kept them from falling into a total crisis, so I think he’s still earned a spot. Oladipo had the Pacers rolling for a while and looked even better than last year, despite the regression of key players Darren Collison and Myles Turner. Unfortunately, he’s going to be out for a few more weeks with an injured knee, which is too bad for one of the league’s most well-liked stars.

The Pistons have also been a pleasant surprise, with Blake Griffin having a mini-resurrection to his career, so he earns an all star spot as well. Jimmy Butler gets the second Sixers spot due to just how much he means to this team in the fourth quarter. The Sixers have played so much better with him as his ability to get to the rim and make tough shots late in close games is such a relief.

The last three guys are where it gets debatable. With how bad the bottom of the East is, you have to reward the dominant teams, i.e. the Raptors and the Bucks. I already have my two Toronto guys in, so I decided that Milwaukee needs another guy too. That guy is Khris Middleton. He’s averaging 18.5 points, and shooting a scorching forty-two percent from three. He’s the second scoring option for the second best team in the league, and that should mean something, so he gets a spot.

Nikola Vucevic has been on a tear lately, putting up multiple thirty point games. Since the Magic are currently in playoff position, Vucevic is an all star because that’s how you reward the best players on productive teams.

Last of all, I had to decide between the the Wizards back court of Bradley Beal and John Wall for the final spot. In the words of Ron Swanson, “It’s like choosing which one of my two pet calves I want to kill.” Unforunately, I cannot kill both of them as Ron Swanson did. The Wizards are by far the league’s most upsetting and disappointing team, but they have to have an all star as they’re somehow only ninth in the standings, and the East is so bad that I have to pick somebody. Both Beal and Wall have somewhat impressive stats, but Beal doesn’t seem like a total locker room cancer like Wall does, so I’ll give the last spot to him out of principle.

As for some guys that just missed my cut, two of them were on my own 76ers. I expected Ben Simmons to come out and dominate, but he goes through tough stretches when he just can’t score due to his lack of a jump shot. He’s improved since the Sixers gave up on the horrid Fultz experiment, but he doesn’t warrant an all star spot. JJ Redick is somehow still improving, shooting and scoring better than ever, but he just doesn’t do enough in other facets of the game for me to put him over a lesser scorer like Khris Middleton (I still love JJ though). I thought Jayson Tatum would be an all star starter by this point, but he, similar to the rest of the Celtics, has has been complacent and underwhelming to say the least. Zach LaVine would be an all star to most for averaging twenty-five points per game, but he’s the definitive good stats bad team guy, and I don’t think guys like that are valuable players.

Western Starters:

G – Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

G – Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

F – Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)

F – LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)

C – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

Western Reserves:

C – Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

G – James Harden (Houston Rockets)

G – Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

G – Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

G/F – DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)

C – Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)

F – Tobias Harris (Los Angeles Clippers)

Explanation:  The West is still better than the East. Yes, it’s true that the very top of the East is better than that of the West, but that’s because the West is so deep that there really is no “top”. Every team thinks they can make the playoffs, and fourteen out of fifteen can (How the Suns think they have any shot at making the playoffs as their GM said is a mystery to me).So the depth of the West makes it very hard to narrow down the twelve best players, but this was my best attempt.

The three forwards are pretty easy picks, as Durant, LeBron, and Anthony Davis all have legitimate claims to being the best players in the league. And no, I don’t blame Anthony Davis for the Pelicans’ lack of dominance (although he did get destroyed by Joel Embiid). New Orleans has a good starting lineup but their bench outside of Julius Randle is about as qualified as the guys at my LA Fitness.

The guards are always hard to pick as this is where the West really thrives. Curry would be the unanimous MVP again if he had avoided injury, but it is hard to award a guy whose missed half the season. But he’s been so spectacular when he’s been healthy that he gets it over the others.

My big debate was whether to make Lillard or Westbrook the other starting guard. The Thunder have been great since Russ returned from injury, and he’s once again averaging near a triple-double. His fatal flaw is still his three-point shooting, which is at a ghastly 21.9%. Dame is playing great yet again, not dropping off like most predicted he would. He’s really the Kyle Lowry of the West if you think about it, and vice versa. I gave Dame the nod for his much better shooting efficiency and that he hasn’t missed a game, while Russ missed ten due to injury.

Despite the Rockets’ disastrous start, Harden is still incredible. He leads the league in scoring and can take over a game at any time. He’d be an undeniable starter if not for Houston’s lack of success, which has to fall on the best player somewhat no matter how good his stats are.

You could argue that due to the Warriors’ struggles they don’t even deserve three all stars, but I just couldn’t leave Klay off. He’s the best perimeter defender on the league’s premier team, and he’s had enough scoring outbreaks to justify his spot.

The Spurs are struggling to adapt to modern offense, and DeRozan could not be more happy. The Spurs system of slow mid-range shots is perfect for him and he’s shooting a near career high 48.2% from the field and averaging near twenty-four points per game. Even though this might be the worst Spurs team of the twenty-first century, he still deserves some recognition.

Nikola Jokic is finally appreciated by the whole league, and I feel proud in recognizing him as a future all star immediately after his first season. Averaging seven assists as a Center is incredible enough to make him an all star, but add to that how Denver has risen to the top of the standings, and Jokic has established himself as the league’s third best center following Embiid and Anthony Davis.

Now things get hairy. I’ll keep hammering it home, you have to reward the best players on the best teams. So yes, Tobias Harris is an all star. He’s the best player on what is the West’s best team right now. I admit I thought that the Clippers would be a lottery team, but I’ve been happily proved wrong. I now am all in, as this team could even be a Finals contender. Even in a star-dominated sport, there is still an advantage to depth, and a lack of holes on you team. You could make an argument for Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and even Montrez Harrell representing the Clips in the all star game instead of Tobias, but the stats don’t lie. He’s the team’s leading scorer and surprisingly the leading rebounder as well. Combine that with being a solid defender, and Tobias gets his first all star nod in his young and promising career.

The final pick was the toughest of all, as I once again had to decide between teammates, this time Marc Gasol and Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies. I love Mike Conley, he’s an Ohio State buckeye through and through, and is way too good to have never been selected as an all star … but I can’t give it to him. Marc and him have similar stats, but Marc is just a little bit better. Gasol is more efficient and is such a lethal defender that he’s always on the minds of his opponents. I’m fine with either of them being made an all star, but I had to pick one, and I sadly had to pick Gasol. Poor Mike will never be an all star.

I thought about Karl-Anthony Towns for a spot, but the T-Wolves deserve no reward for how bad their season has been. Devin Booker is the Zach LaVine of the West, so you know that he’s not getting anything. I’m not shy in saying that I never even considered Draymond Green for any spot. He’s fallen off a cliff and he’s not coming back up. I thought Donovan Mitchell, like Tatum, would take a step forward, but both him and the Jazz have been wildly disappointing. I actually had some serious thoughts about putting Luka in, but he’s not there quite yet. He can settle for the Rookie of the Year, which he’s practically already won at this point. CJ McCollum puts up points, but I can’t give two all star spots to a middle of the pack team. Chris Paul has been for almost the whole season and has looked old when he has played. And finally, Paul George looks great for flashes, but when I watch him I just don’t think he’s that special anymore. In full honesty, he’s pretty much the same player as Tobias Harris at this point. Don’t be offended PG, Tobias is really good, he’s just not a top tier guy. And since Tobias has a better team, he gets the all star spot.