The NBA players, fans and media have spoken—the 10 starters for the 2019 All-Star Game are officially locked in place.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo earned the highest vote totals in their respective conferences, meaning they'll have the honor of picking their rosters in the (televised!) All-Star Game draft on Feb. 7.
Between now and then, though, 14 more players will have their All-Star tickets punched by the coaches who select the two reserve units. After looking at the voting results for the 10 starters, we'll peak into our crystal ball to make predictions about the reserve units from both conferences.
2019 All-Star Game Starters
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden, Houston Rockets
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Captain)
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Captain)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are officially this year's NBA All-Star captains. The remaining NBA starters are Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard. Here's a breakdown of the fan/player/media voting: https://t.co/e68C64jTT4
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
While the West is absurdly deep with top-level talent, there's less guesswork needed here than you'd think.
Five of these feel like locks, or something very close to it.
Davis and Jokic, who respectively rank third and fourth in ESPN's real plus-minus, could've easily snagged starting spots if not for a frontcourt logjam in the West. Lillard has the third-highest offensive RPM in the entire league. Gobert anchors the Jazz's fourth-ranked defense and statistically means even more to their offense. Towns is on a very short list of the Association's best-scoring bigs.
It might surprise some to see Westbrook on the bubble, since he's just one season removed from an MVP season and amid a three-year run of averaging a triple-double. But he's having a historically brutal shooting season for a featured player, and he's coughing up the second-most giveaways.
Still, the fact he keeps the gas pedal floored puts constant pressure on the defense and gives his teammates room to work. His defensive versatility also contributes to OKC's third overall ranking on that end. It would be hard to keep him off the roster.
The last spot is the trickiest. The candidate pool might be 20 players deep, including sentimental favorites (Mike Conley Jr. should've been an All-Star by now), familiar faces (DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge), breakout ballers (Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari) and even a freshman phenom (Luka Doncic).
Holiday snags the last spot by maybe half a Pelican feather due to his substantial two-way impact. He defends multiple positions, plays on or off the ball and works as both a super-sidekick or a centerpiece. The stat sheet not only says he's more valuable to New Orleans than Davis, but that it's not particularly close (15.7 net differential for Holiday, 7.3 for Davis).
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Again, there are several presumable locks we can write in permanent marker.
Simmons is on that list, as the best triple-double supplier outside the Sooner State. Vucevic has bumped his points (20.5), rebounds (12.0) and assists (3.8) to personal bests, while shooting like a long lost Splash Brother (51.7/38.1/77.9 slash). Griffin has been destroying as a jumbo point forward. Beal looks better in nearly every facet than last season, when he made his All-Star debut.
While Lowry, Butler and Bledsoe round out our projected selections, none of their cases is ironclad.
Lowry has been overly passive while adjusting to life with Leonard, and it's taken a toll on the point guard's shooting accuracy. Lowry's 55.6 true shooting percentage is easily his worst since 2014-15. But he's never been a better distributor (9.4 assists), and his peskiness on defense has helped him secure the eighth-best RPM.
It'll be interesting to see how coaches handle Butler's messy divorce from the Timberwolves, and his transition to the Sixers hasn't been the smoothest. But you won't find many players who bring more positives to both ends of the floor. He sits second among all shooting guards in both RPM and RPM wins.
The final spot is always a doozy, and this is no exception. We wouldn't argue much if D'Angelo Russell, Pascal Siakam, John Collins, Khris Middleton, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, JJ Redick or Josh Richardson got the nod.
But it feels like the Bucks—the NBA's most efficient club—deserve two representatives, and Bledsoe adds a pinch more value than Middleton for his slashing, playmaking and defending. Bledsoe checks in second among Milwaukee's regulars in PER, win shares and RPM.