Although the player with the NBA's highest player efficiency rating (Russell Westbrook at 29.5, per ESPN.com) isn't starting the NBA All-Star Game this year, the starting lineups for the Eastern and Western Conferences, which were announced on Thursday night, are still loaded.
Eastern Conference Starting Lineup: Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee Bucks Swiss army knife Giannis Antetokounmpo
Western Conference Starting Lineup: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, New Orleans Pelicans forward/center Anthony Davis
This season, players and the media were added to the voting pool. Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote, while players and media split the rest at 25 percent each.
Players are broken into two categories: backourt and frontcourt. The top two players in each backcourt post-voting got starting nods, while the top frontcourt trio for the East and West received the same honor.
Per Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk, here are the voting results for this year:
Now, let's take a crack at predicting the reserves for each conference, which will be announced on Thursday, January 26 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT and are voted on by league head coaches. Each team will get seven bench spots.
Eastern Conference Reserves
Toronto Raptors G Kyle Lowry
Lowry is second in the NBA in Real Plus-Minus and should be starting, period. He's the best two-way guard in the league and arguably the best guard in the Eastern Conference.
Boston Celtics G Isaiah Thomas
Thomas is averaging 32.3 points per game in January and 28.7 overall this season while leading the Celtics, who have suffered injuries to their starting lineup all season, to a 26-16 record—good enough for third in the Eastern Conference.
Washington Wizards G John Wall
Wall is leading a team that was left for dead a month ago. He's putting up 23.1 points and 10.3 assists per game for a team that has gone 14-5 in its last 19 and 7-1 in its last eight. Washington now sits in fifth in the Eastern Conference, just one game back of fourth.
Cleveland Cavaliers F Kevin Love
Love should make the All-Star Game for his near-record-breaking performance against Portland alone; he scored 34 first-quarter points, just three shy of the 37-point record Warriors guard Klay Thompson set two years ago. Still, he's enjoying a resurgent season, averaging 20.7 points and 10.8 boards a night.
Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid
Embiid has single-handedly breathed life into a 76ers team that hasn't given fans anything to cheer about (and plenty to boo about) for most of this decade. Despite playing only 25.4 minutes per night due to minutes restrictions, Embiid is putting up 19.9 points and 7.8 boards per game.
Chicago Bulls G Dwyane Wade
It's hard to see one of the most popular players in the league being left off the All-Star roster. It's even harder to see a guard with plenty of miles on him (13-plus regular seasons and plenty of postseason games) put up nearly 19 points a night at 35 years old. Wade deserves a spot.
Indiana Pacers F Paul George
It's odd using the phrase "12th man" and Paul George in the same sentence, especially because PG-13 is a fantastic player who made an incredible comeback from a broken leg, but he's the last pick on the reserve side. It's a battle between him and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, but the edge goes to the player with the better team.
Western Conference Reserves
Oklahoma City Thunder G Russell Westbrook
He's averaging a triple-double and should be starting. Further explanation about Westbrook's All-Star Game candidacy is not needed.
Sacramento Kings F/C DeMarcus Cousins
Boogie had a case to start the game, as he's averaging 28.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists a night. He also ranks ninth in the NBA in PER (26.84). Like Westbrook, he's a stone-cold lock to be selected.
Golden State Warriors F/C Draymond Green and G Klay Thompson
We're putting them together on the reserve side because they'll make the roster for the same reason: They're both former All-Stars that are playing well on a 36-6 team that might eclipse 70 wins for the second straight season.
Memphis Grizzlies G Mike Conley
He is probably the best two-way guard in the Western Conference. Like Kyle Lowry, he doesn't get enough recognition for his work. Conley is leading a team that has beaten Golden State and Houston twice each and sits tied for sixth in the brutally tough West.
Memphis Grizzlies C Marc Gasol
Like Conley, he doesn't get enough recognition for the work he does on both ends of the floor. He's averaging 19.6 points, 6.0 boards and 4.3 assists a night.
Portland Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard
This season hasn't gone to plan for Lillard, as his team is fighting just to make the playoffs. However, he is still averaging 26 points and six assists a game for a Blazers team that gives him little offensive help outside of shooting guard C.J. McCollum.