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The NBA All-Star game will be taking place on February 18th in Los Angeles, California. After all the fan, media, and player voting, we finally get to see who the starters will be this year. The system for who will be on what team is different this year. A player from each conference will be a captain and will be able to select their own team through a draft. This should make the game more interesting and competitive this year since it has been taking a dive in intensity these past few years. Many people would agree with the starters that were chosen this year but there has been some conflict regarding snubs from each conference. Here are the starters that were chosen and their resume for each player.
EASTERN CONFERENCE STARTERS
GUARD: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie is having a great season in his first year as a Boston Celtic. He is averaging 24.1 points, 5 assists, and 1.2 steals. His shooting splits are 47-39-88 which puts him close to being a member of the 50-40-90 club. His defense has improved a lot from last year and he has been able to add to the best defense in the league. Kyrie is an elite offensive talent and performs flashy moves on a nightly basis. Kyrie is the best player on the best team in the East and in my opinion is deserving of this starting spot.
GUARD: DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan has been having one of the best years of his career leading the Toronto Raptors to the second seed in the East. He is averaging 25.2 points while also averaging a career-high 5 assists. DeMar made an effort to expand his game this offseason so he is taking more threes this year and is shooting a career-high 35% from beyond the arc. His leadership has meant a lot to the Raptor’s success as Kyle Lowry has missed some time because of injury. DeRozan is from California so I have a feeling this will mean a lot to him to be able to start and play in front of a home crowd.
FORWARD: Lebron James (captain)
Lebron received the most fan votes out of any player in the league and will be picking first in the draft. No surprise to me that Lebron received the most votes as he is the best player in the world and has been the face of the league for a long time. Even in his 15th season, Lebron shows no signs of slowing down. He is averaging a nice stat line of 27.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists on 55% from the field. He’s a top MVP candidate and has been carrying the load of the recently struggling Cavaliers. Lebron is the most obvious All-Star choice.
FORWARD: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis is a rare player in this league and has been fun to watch this season. He started out red-hot this season and was even an early MVP favorite. Giannis is second in the league in points per game averaging 28.2 while adding 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks and shooting an efficient 54% from the field. Giannis is an athletic freak and the work he did in the offseason has paid off this year. Although Lebron won the fan and media voting, Giannis came in ahead of Lebron in player voting receiving 6 more votes than him.
CENTER: Joel Embiid
Embiid being picked to the starting squad has already started to cause some conflict. Many people believe that Embiid should be left off the roster because of the 76ers ranking in the East and also for the fact that he has missed some games. Although Embiid has been limited this year, his impact when he is on the court has helped lead Philly to their first decent season in a while. Embiid is putting up 23.8 points, while also collecting 10.8 rebounds, and blocking 1.9 shots per game. Embiid is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and may even win the award this year. No denying he has serious talent and competes on both ends of the court. Is that enough to overlook the rest? You decide.
WESTERN CONFERENCE STARTERS
GUARD: Stephen Curry (captain)
Receiving the most fan votes in the West was Stephen Curry. Steph has been one of the most popular players in the league since the Golden State Warriors have started their reign over the NBA. Curry is having another MVP type season but has been bogged down by injury these past few months. Steph remains one of the best scorers in the league as he averages 27.7 points while also dishing out 6.5 assists, and collecting 1.6 steals per game. His shooting splits are 49-41-91 which put him on 50-40-90 club alert and would make it the second time he qualified for such an honor. Steph has had a great season and it is no surprise he will be starting in the All-Star game once again.
GUARD: James Harden
I think it was no surprise to anyone that James Harden is having another great year in Houston. After coming in second in MVP voting last year, Harden has been the MVP frontrunner for most of this season before he was sidelined by an injury. Harden leads the league in scoring at 32.3 points per game and is also dishing out assists as he is third in the league in assists per game with 9.1. His ability to get to the line is a huge part of his game and he often catches defenders in the air and is able to get an easy 2 points from the charity stripe. Harden is a pick n roll maestro and can get buckets any time he wants. It’s safe to say that Harden was an easy choice for All-Star voters this year.
FORWARD: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has been dominant this year on both ends of the court. On offense, Durant is putting up 26.2 points and 5.4 assists on a shooting split of 51-40-88. His efficiency and the way he can score with ease over defenders is something that is incredible to watch. On the defensive end, Durant has become an elite shot blocker and has provided the rim protection for the Warriors. He is averaging 2.1 blocks per game and is third in the league in total blocks at 78. Kevin Durant can do it all and has really unleashed his true skill set since he made the move to the Bay. To me, Durant is the second best player in the world and has earned a starting spot.
FORWARD: Anthony Davis
Last year was a special All-Star game for Davis as he broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record of most points scored in an All-Star game. Anthony Davis put on a show in front of the home fans of New Orleans as he scored 52 points and won the All-Star game MVP. This season, Davis has played some great basketball as he and Cousins have led the Pelicans to the 6th seed in the West. Davis is putting up 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game. Davis is an elite rim protector and has been an offensive force ever since he came into this league. He has been showing out recently as he just put up 40+ points in back to back games at some of the NBA’s biggest name arenas. Davis is a young superstar and this is another thing to add to his growing resume.
CENTER: DeMarcus Cousins
For Cousins, this will be his first time starting in an All-Star game. Cousins getting the nod over LaMarcus Aldridge has caused some backlash, especially from some of the guys on the TNT crew. Despite the criticism, Boogie has been having a great season playing alongside Anthony Davis. His numbers are solid as he is putting up 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. Cousins is a great player that can do it all when it comes to scoring. He can battle down low in the post or he can take it at the top and splash a 3. Cousins was playing great basketball at the beginning of the season and I even saw some people putting him in the MVP conversation. That talk has faded but Cousins has still been putting up good numbers and has helped keep New Orleans in the playoffs. Whether you agree or not, DeMarcus Cousins will be starting in the All-Star game and I look forward to watching him and Embiid battle it out down low.
There are your All-Star starters for this year! Feel free to tweet me your comments about who you think got snubbed. The reserves will be announced January 23rd and the full drafted rosters will be announced January 25th.