We already know the starters for the NBA All-Star Game, but there are a handful of other players rightfully waiting for recognition of a great season. They will get it when the reserve spots are finally announced.
The first 10 spots were decided via fan vote, which included some of the league's best players as well as a few veterans there on name alone:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
The NBA All-Star rosters are set! https://t.co/URtBrNwqa72016-1-22 00:33:27
Now the coaches will pick the final seven players to represent each conference, which isn't always an easy task with so many legitimate options at every position. Everyone will have their own opinions, but here is a look at predictions for each league as well as info for when to watch the official announcement.
NBA All-Star Reserves Announcement
When: Thursday, Jan. 28
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: TNT Overtime
|Predicted Eastern Conference Reserves|
|John Wall||PG||Washington Wizards|
|Isaiah Thomas||PG||Boston Celtics|
|Jimmy Butler||SG||Chicago Bulls|
|DeMar DeRozan||SG||Toronto Raptors|
|Paul Millsap||PF||Atlanta Hawks|
|Pau Gasol||C||Chicago Bulls|
|Andre Drummond||C||Detroit Pistons|
There are some obvious names on the board with players who are clearly among the best in the league at this point in their careers. John Wall and Jimmy Butler are two of the more talented two-way players in basketball, and while they don't always put up huge scoring numbers, they could be headed for a lot more All-Star Games in the future.
Pau Gasol is no stranger to this exhibition either, looking for the sixth selection of his career. Although he doesn't often make highlight-reel plays, he is one of the steadiest players in the NBA and is worthy of a role on this team.
On the other hand, fans are likely a bit more surprised to see Isaiah Thomas on the list. The 5'9" point guard had been a role player for the first few years of his career, scoring at a high rate but never really considered a star. That changed this season, as he has become a true point guard and a leader for the surprisingly good Boston Celtics.
Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports noted Kyrie Irving missing a starting spot also likely helped out Thomas:
Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS
Kyle Lowry edging Kyrie Irving in the All-Star voting is great news for Boston's @Isaiah_Thomas. Irving unlikely to land a coaches pick.2016-1-22 00:19:59
ESPN's Chris Forsberg also provided a look at the Celtics' push to get their guard an All-Star bid as of last week:
Chris Forsberg @ESPNForsberg
Celtics pushing Isaiah Thomas All-Star candidacy: https://t.co/ZJSKhAIMIR2016-1-22 22:08:37
DeMar DeRozan and Andre Drummond should get easy selections as well after putting up impressive numbers in the first half. DeRozan has increased his scoring total to a career-high 23.0 points per game and has been red hot over the last few weeks while helping the Raptors climb the standings.
Drummond is in the midst of the breakout campaign everyone expected this year. He is the leading rebounder in the NBA, and while his free-throw shooting is an issue (35.5 percent), the rest of his game is solid. At just 22 years old, he is also just scratching the surface of his potential.
The most debated spot might be the inclusion of Paul Millsap, who, like Gasol, is often unheralded as a scorer and rebounder on a less-than-exciting team. However, he has been the best player on the Atlanta Hawks, a squad that continues to be a threat in the East. Chris Bosh remains in contention as well but might just miss the cut.
|Predicted Western Conference Reserves|
|Chris Paul||PG||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Damian Lillard||PG||Portland Trail Blazers|
|James Harden||SG||Houston Rockets|
|Klay Thompson||SG||Golden State Warriors|
|Draymond Green||PF||Golden State Warriors|
|Anthony Davis||PF||New Orleans Pelicans|
|DeMarcus Cousins||C||Sacramento Kings|
There were a bunch of easy calls in the West with players who arguably should have been starters but won't be snubbed when it comes to the reserves.
Obviously, the center would change the process if he had a choice, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
There definitely wouldn’t be fan voting. You can’t base it off of who is on TNT and ESPN every night. Of course, it’s going to be most winning teams’ [players], the most popular players [selected]. The other guys that play for the Milwaukee Bucks, and in our case the Sacramento Kings, who are playing just as good basketball, will never be seen. I don’t think it’s fair.
It's true the Kings are struggling as a team, but Cousins has been one of the biggest stars in the NBA this season, averaging 27.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He recently had a stretch with 104 points scored in two games. No matter what the fans think, the big man is an All-Star.
The same can be said about Golden State Warriors stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The squad is contending to be one of the best teams in NBA history, so there doesn't seem to be much of an issue putting three Warriors on the All-Star roster (the other player being starter Stephen Curry).
Of course, the issue of team versus individual numbers comes up in debates for other spots. With Curry and Russell Westbrook starting and Chris Paul and James Harden deserving of reserve roles as well, the amount of guard spots runs out quickly. This could pit a tough debate between Tony Parker and Damian Lillard.
While Parker is the engine behind a talented San Antonio Spurs squad, this is an individual recognition, and Lillard has been one of the best guards in basketball this year, averaging 24.3 points and 7.1 assists per game. He also has some quality endorsements from rival players:
NBA Central @TheNBACentral
Kobe Bryant on Damian Lillard: "No question, he's an All-Star." https://t.co/Z5u4jkn8pm2016-1-25 22:07:16
Jen Beyrle @JenBeyrle
Cousins says that Damian Lillard is one of his favorite players in the league and that he "absolutely" should be an All-Star2016-1-27 06:24:24
The Spurs could end up with only one All-Star in starter Kawhi Leonard, but something tells me the players are more focused on competing for a title.
Blake Griffin's bizarre injury, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com, opens the spot for another post player, leading to the same thought process with individual over team. Anthony Davis hasn't helped the New Orleans Pelicans win games, but he has had a better overall year to this point than Dirk Nowitzki, DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge or others on contending teams. Then again, it wouldn't be surprising to see any of those players earn the selection.
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