NBA All-Star Game 2016 Rosters: Starters, Snubs and Predictions for Reserves

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2016

Jan 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates a three-point basket in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Starters for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto were revealed Thursday night on TNT, with Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant—the league's leading vote-getterheadlining the list. 

The complete lineups can be viewed below: 

2016 NBA All-Star Starters
PositionEastern ConferenceWestern Conference
GuardDwyane Wade, Miami HeatStephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
GuardKyle Lowry, Toronto RaptorsRussell Westbrook, OKC Thunder
FrontcourtLeBron James, Cleveland CavaliersKobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
FrontcourtPaul George, Indiana PacersKevin Durant, OKC Thunder
FrontcourtCarmelo Anthony, New York KnicksKawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Source: TNT Broadcast

According to the Lakers' official Twitter account, Bryant's 18th straight All-Star selection set an NBA record. In the Eastern Conference, Carmelo Anthony tied George Gervin and Dominique Wilkins for the most selections (nine) without an NBA Finals appearance, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The Oklahoman's Erik Horne relayed final voting tallies, which included several close calls in the conference's respective frontcourts. 

As is always the case, fan voting resulted in some glaring omissions. From MVP candidates to max-contract signees and under-the-radar weapons flourishing statistically, here's a look at some high-profile snubs and potential reserves as coaches get set to vote on All-Star benches over the next week. 

Eastern Conference Snubs and Reserve Predictions

Eastern Conference Reserve Predictions
PositionPlayer
GuardJohn Wall, G, Washington Wizards
GuardJimmy Butler, G, Chicago Bulls
FrontcourtPaul Millsap, F, Atlanta Hawks
FrontcourtChris Bosh, F, Miami Heat
FrontcourtAndre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons
Wild CardAl Horford, C, Atlanta Hawks
Wild CardDeMar DeRozan, G, Toronto Raptors
Source: Alec Nathan's Projections

Beyond James, Kyle Lowry and Paul George, the Eastern Conference's starting lineup is kind of a mess. Anthony has been solid, without question, but Andre Drummond's in the midst of a career year that has seen him average 17.6 points and a league-leading 15.4 rebounds. 

If those averages hold, Drummond would become the fourth player since the 1982-83 season to average at least 17 points and 15 boards for an entire campaign, per Basketball-Reference.com.  

The Inside the NBA crew broke down everything Eastern Conference—including Drummond's exclusionduring Thursday night's reveal, per Turner Sports PR on Twitter:

It's also hard to ignore Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler getting snubbed. 

The imposing two-way presence is averaging a career-best 22.4 points and 4.3 assists while tallying 1.8 steals a night. During his emergence as Chicago's alpha dog, Butler has helped the Bulls maintain some balance during a rocky start to the New Year. 

"Butler has put his money where his mouth is, backing up his five-year, $95 million contract and his talk of wanting to be the Bulls’ leader by putting them on his back at times like these," Bleacher Report's Sean Highkin wrote following Butler's 53-point explosion against the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 14. 

Contrast Butler's success against Dwyane Wade's struggles, and it's hard to justify the latter's presence in the starting lineup. Wade's averaging the fewest points (18.1) since his rookie season while shooting a career-worst 45.5 percent from the field and a putrid 22.6 percent from three.

Wade has also been a major defensive detriment this season. According to NBA.com's stats database, Miami's defensive rating with Wade on the floor sits at an uninspiring 102.9. But when he sits, that mark dips to 96.1—which would rank No. 2 overall behind only the San Antonio Spurs. 

Crazy as it may sound, Atlanta's Paul Millsap also deserved starting consideration. After signing a three-year, $59 million deal over the summer, Millsap has one-upped his production from a stellar 2014-15 season to put a third straight All-Star berth in his sights. 

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Millsap is averaging 18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Millsap's the only Eastern Conference player averaging at least 18 points, eight boards a steal and a block. The other qualifiers are DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. 

"He just always finds ways to get better," Hawks center Al Horford said, per FoxSports.com's Zach Dillard. "He's always been able to (fill up the stat sheet). I just think now people are taking more notice of it. He can do it all on the floor for us."

  

Western Conference Snubs and Reserve Predictions

Western Conference Reserve Predictions
PositionPlayer
GuardChris Paul, G, L.A. Clippers
GuardJames Harden, G, Houston Rockets
FrontcourtDraymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors
FrontcourtDeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Sacramento Kings
FrontcourtAnthony Davis, F, New Orleans Pelicans
Wild CardBlake Griffin, F, L.A. Clippers
Wild CardDamian Lillard, G, Portland Trail Blazers
Source: Alec Nathan's Projections

The Western Conference starters were largely without controversy—with Kobe Bryant's selection serving as the lone exception. The lifetime achievement nature of Bryant's selection is difficult to argue with, but to have him occupy a starting spot in lieu of Draymond Green is a bit outrageous. 

Here's a side-by-side comparison of each player's production through Wednesday night: 

  • Bryant: 16.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 34.5 FG%, 25.1 3P%, 13.1 PER
  • Green: 14.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 46.6 FG%, 41.4 3P%, 20.2 PER

So it's not really close.

TNT analyst Charles Barkley agreed Green shouldn't have been left out, per the NBA on TNT's Twitter account:

Bryant's All-Star send-off figures to be the ceremonial highlight of the weekend, but Green's just a far, far more compelling player at this point. A legitimate MVP candidate along with Curry and Kawhi Leonard, Green's pick-and-roll chops and lockdown defense were deserving of a starting spot. Expect him to wreak havoc on both ends in the midseason exhibition. 

Cousins is also worthy of mention in this space as a reserve nominee. Although Cousins has received flack over the course of his career during immature moments, he's been a statistical machine throughout the 2015-16 season. 

Entering Thursday night, Cousins was averaging 26.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. To put that production in perspective, consider the only other players in league history to average at least 25 points, 10 rebounds a steal and a block for an entire season are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Bob Lanier, Moses Malone and Chris Webber, according to Basketball-Reference.com

That's not bad company to keep. 

Sticking with that theme, Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin deserves praise despite being sidelined with a quad injury. Though Griffin hasn't suited up since Christmas, his averages of 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and five assists are impossible to cast aside. 

On top of stuffing the stat sheet, Griffin has also been uber-efficient. He's shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from three with a player efficiency rating (23.5) just 0.4 points off his career best. 

Blake Griffin's 2015-16 Shot Chart
Blake Griffin's 2015-16 Shot ChartCredit: NBA.com/Stats

Finally, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard should snag one of the final spots on the bench thanks to his contributions for a surprisingly upstart team that has wedged its way into the playoff conversation. 

Though he's shooting a career-worst 41.5 percent, Lillard has canned 37.3 percent of his threes as one of the NBA's most dangerous long-range threats. 

"Opposing defenses have to extend themselves to take away Lillard's off-the-bounce 3s, just as they do with Curry, and that structural manipulation gives Portland a head start every night," ESPN.com's Zach Lowe wrote. 

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Lillard has also shredded opponent in the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy Sports play-type data provided to NBA.com, Lillard is scoring in the 81st percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler.

By comparison, Russell Westbrook ranks in the 66th percentile, John Wall sits down below in the 36th percentile and Chris Paul is nestled into the 75th percentile. 

One player who made a surprising All-Star push was Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia. Mavs owner Mark Cuban said, "If I woulda known, I would have put him over the top. I didn't push it at all," per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Western Conference is bursting with other worthy reserve candidates like Klay Thompson, Dirk Nowitzki Tim Duncan and Derrick Favors, so trying to predict the seven remaining spots is hardly an exact science.

We'll find out who the NBA's 30 head coaches believe are most deserving of reserve selections when benches are revealed Thursday, Jan. 28 on TNT. 

Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. 

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