Who Will Punch Their Ticket to the 2017 All-Star Game?
It was only a couple of days ago that the NBAonTNT announced the 2017 All-Star Game starting line-ups, which included a couple of snubs, but for the most part lived up to its billing. Now, all that is left is the impending announcement of the All-Star second units. Fourteen players, seven on each side will have the opportunity to represent their teams as All-Stars in the Big Easy during All-Star Weekend.
Who will they be? Who deserves the recognition? And which player will just miss the cut?
Eastern Conference: Who’s In?
G: Isaiah Thomas – 28.7 PPG, 6.0 APG
This dude not being an All-Star starter is an absolute crime. Thomas is making a case for becoming one of the best NBA little men of all time while leading an offensively inept Boston Celtics team in the process. Clutch shot after clutch shot, one of the NBA’s best fourth quarter performers and the main reason why the Celtics are sitting pretty in third, Thomas is becoming an offensive force in Boston and an easy choice for All-Star bench player.
G: Kyle Lowry – 22.3 PPG, 7.0 APG, 4.8 RPG, 43.8 3Pt FG%
After his Raptor teammate DeMar DeRozan got the nod as an All-Star starter, Lowry will follow suit as a part of the Eastern Conference second unit. Transforming into one of the more lethal three-point shooters in the NBA, Lowry continues to perform as one of the best point guards in the entire Eastern Conference while leading a very under-appreciated Toronto Raptors team.
It’s going to be Lowry time in the Big Easy!
G: John Wall – 23.1 PPG, 10.2 APG, 4.5 RPG, 2.3 SPG
For a team with so little talent and chemistry, John Wall has literally been dragging the Washington Wizards out of the Eastern Conference cellar into the playoff picture. Wall has been doing everything imaginable in Washington. From putting up crazy numbers, to making ridiculous highlight-reel plays, to making my fantasy team very, very happy. There is no question that John Wall deserves to get the nod.
F: Paul George – 22.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG
Despite an underwhelming season for his standards and for his team, Paul George is still one of the best two-way players in the NBA. The Indiana Pacers are a bubble team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but based on the talent assembled around him, George should be able to lead his team into the playoffs by the time the regular season comes to a close. In a vacuum, there are not many players in the entire conference who can do what PG13 is capable of and he will definitely be in New Orleans representing the Pacers.
F: Carmelo Anthony – 22.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG
Let’s separate the New York Knicks drama from how we look at Melo as a basketball talent for a second. Anthony is still one of the greatest scorers in the entire NBA and he has proved it once again when he broke the Knicks franchise record for most points in a quarter just days ago (25). Anthony is a nine-time All-Star, soon to be ten, and like he usually does, Melo will put on an offensive clinic in the Big Easy.
F: Kevin Love – 20.7 PPG, 10.8 RPG
After a couple of rough seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love has finally returned to his Minnesota Timberwolves ways, showing again why he may just be the best stretch-four in the entire league. Love has worked extremely hard to fit in with his new team and at times has been the best player on the court for the Cavs. Come the 2017 All-Star Game, Love will deservedly be joining his two All-Star teammates in New Orleans.
F: Paul Millsap – 17.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG
Not the sexiest of names, but Millsap has been a model of consistency each season on both ends of the court. While his play continues to remain at a high level, the Atlanta Hawks continue to win. Millsap will be one of the highly sought after players at the deadline, but before than, he will get another chance to represent the Hawks in the All-Star Game.
Eastern Conference: Who’s Out?
G: Kemba Walker – 23.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.2 RPG, 42.3 3PT FG%
Unfortunately for Walker, being the sixth best point guard in the Eastern Conference is the reason why he cannot seem to crack an All-Star roster. That is not to disrespect the UConn product because he has been exceptional this season yet again and is doing everything possible to keep his team in the playoff picture, but he just misses the cut.
G: Dwyane Wade – 18.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG
Although the popularity contest known as the fan vote gave Wade a ton more votes than he deserves, it seems that Wade’s time as an NBA All-Star is all but over. Despite still putting up great numbers and being one of the greatest shooting guards to ever step foot onto a basketball court, the Miami Heat version of Dwyane Wade is gone for good.
F: Joel Embiid – 19.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 BPG
As much as I do “trust the process”, Embiid will have to wait another year before he can get a date with Rihanna. He is easily one of the most entertaining basketball players in the NBA, as well as dominating, but Embiid plays on minutes restrictions. While the All-Star Game will be far more fun with him in it, there are guys who deserve it more – guys who play longer than 25-minutes a game.
Embiid’s per 36 minutes numbers are 28.3 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 3.5 BPG. Something tells me Embiid will be a perennial All-Star for years to come!
F: Hassan Whiteside – 17.3 PPG, 14.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 55.4 FG%
From a second round pick, to continuously getting cut, to D-League stints, Whiteside has really come a long way and really does deserve the All-Star nod. He is the NBA leader in rebounds per game and has become one of the best centres in the entire league, but unfortunately, his team’s record and the talent surrounding him will be his downfall.
Western Conference: Who’s in?
G: Russell Westbrook – 30.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 10.4 APG
Look at the numbers. 21 triple-doubles on the season. He is averaging a TRIPLE-DOUBLE!
That should be enough and who doesn’t want to see Westbrook throw up an alley-oop to Kevin Durant and leave his former teammate’s high-five attempt hanging?
G: Klay Thompson – 21.1 PPG, 39 3PT FG%
Still one half of the Splash Brother, Thompson is one of the best two-way players in basketball and a lethal shooter from any spot on the court. Easily an All-Star, threes will be raining down on the Eastern Conference team all night from a Golden State Warrior trio that doesn’t miss often from long range.
G: Damian Lillard – 26.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 5.8 APG
After being snubbed last season, Dame Dolla has raised his game even further and cannot possibly be snubbed again. Well, he can, but he shouldn’t! The Portland Trailblazers are a horribly constructed team, but Lillard makes them a team viable for an eighth seed despite all of their deficiencies, which is reason enough to get him to New Orleans.
After last year’s snub, its the least the coaches can do for the NBA’s greatest rapper!
F: Gordon Hayward – 22.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG
Gordon Hayward has transitioned into a star. The Utah Jazz are one of the more interesting teams in the league – a great defensive unit, with some explosive offensive weapon starting off with Hayward. A great athlete and an exceptional shooter too, Hayward has become one of the more dangerous wing players in the entire league and will be rewarded with his first All-Star selection.
F: DeMarcus Cousins – 27.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 4.3 APG,
An All-Star Game without Boogie? Count me out.
DeMarcus Cousins is a beast and the best big man in the entire NBA. On a mess of a Kings team, somehow, he is propelling them near the playoff picture. He can shoot from the perimeter, bring up the ball, and destroy any defender in the post. You got to send him to the Big Easy, I cannot overstate enough how horrible a Boogie-less All-Star Weekend would be.
F: LaMarcus Aldridge – 17.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG
Once one of the top two power forwards in the game alongside Kevin Love, Aldridge has turned into an excellent second option on a very good Spurs team. Winning is rewarded and Aldridge still plays the game at a very high level. He may be the Western Conference version of Paul Millsap, but he still consistently gets the job done.
F: Marc Gasol – 19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.3 APG
Simply put, Marc Gasol has been the best player on the playoff bound Grizzlies team. After averaging a career high 0.2 three-pointers per game two years ago, Gasol has transformed himself, making him an even bigger offensive threat, showing the ability to stretch the floor and expand his game. He now takes 3.4 three-pointers per game, shooting at a 39% clip while still remaining a very valuable rim protector and one of the best passing big men in the game. His brother’s time as an All-Star may be up, but Marc definitely capable of carrying the torch.
Western Conference: Who’s out?
G: Chris Paul – 17.5 PPG, 9.7 APG, 5.3 RPG, 2.2 SPG
Chris Paul is the ultimate floor general, one of the greatest point guards of all time, and everything a true point guard has to be. He is sixth in the entire league in PER (27.4) and fourth in assists. Easily an All-Star if he was able to stay healthy, unfortunately his latest injury will cost him a spot in New Orleans. His projected timetable would prevent him from making it back on time.
F: Karl-Anthony Towns – 22.3 PPG, 12.0 RPG,
Doesn’t it just suck when your team is bad at sports? That is the issue with Karl-Anthony Towns’ All-Star validity. For as good as he is, his team is just so bad, that he will just miss the cut. There’s always the Rookie-Sophomore Game!
F: DeAndre Jordan – 12.6 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 69.1 FG%
Jordan’s repertoire hasn’t really changed much. Still a great rim protector who’s offensive game constitutes of dunks, some more dunks, and even more dunks. For as good as he is defensively, there are many players with more versatile offensive games and Jordan’s inability to develop further as an offensive player will leave him off the All-Star roster.
F: Draymond Green – 10.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 7.7 APG, 2.0 SPG
This will be the biggest name left off the team because Green deserves the nod, but there is just no room left for him on the roster. Maybe the second most important player on the Warriors roster after Durant, Green, is the point forward that does all of the dirty work. He is the ultimate Swiss army knife type player and this snub will only motivate him to get better from here.