B/R Staff 2022 NBA All-Star Votes: Who Deserves a Spot So Far?December 23, 2021
B/R Staff 2022 NBA All-Star Votes: Who Deserves a Spot So Far?
NBA All-Star voting is a wild ride. Every season one of your favorite stars no doubt gets snubbed, while that other player who clearly didn't deserve it makes the cut. It's criminal, really.
This season, Bleacher Report is here to help figure out who's actually earned a spot as voting begins.
With fan voting set to open Christmas Day and with two full months of basketball in the books to study, B/R's NBA staff voted for the most deserving starters and reserves from each conference so far.
How Voting Worked
We asked seven NBA writers to vote on five starters and seven reserves from each conference:
- A starter vote was worth two points
- A reserve vote was worth one point
After all the votes were in, we mimicked the NBA's system, naming the top three frontcourt players and the top two backcourt players from each conference as starters.
From there, we ignored position and named the next top seven vote-getters from each conference as reserves.
Special thanks to B/R's expert voting panel: A. Sherrod Blakely, Sean Highkin, Andy Bailey, Greg Swartz, Mo Dakhil, Eric Pincus and Dan Favale.
Eastern Conference Starters
Backcourt: Trae Young (13 voter points), Zach LaVine (8)
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo (14), Kevin Durant (14), DeMar DeRozan (13)
Beginning with the East frontcourt, there should be no debate over who deserves the starting nods. Durant, Antetokounmpo and DeRozan have all played at an MVP level for a team occupying a top-three spot in the East.
Durant is the NBA's leading scorer this season, averaging 29.7 points per game on a super-efficient 62.6 true shooting percentage. He's carried Brooklyn to the No. 1 seed in the East even with no Kyrie Irving, James Harden suffering a slip in play and a rash of injuries and COVID-19 absences affecting the rest of the team.
Antetokoumpo is putting up his usual superhero numbers (27.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 blocks) while registering the best swing rating (plus-17.5 points per 100 possessions) of his career.
DeRozan, who last made the All-Star team in 2018, has been brilliant for Chicago and is fifth in the NBA with his 26.8 points per game.
There was a little more debate in the backcourt, but Young and LaVine ultimately won out with their spectacular starts.
Young, who was inexplicably left off the East roster last year, has been the best point guard in the conference and is second in the NBA in scoring (27.3 points per game) and third in assists (9.3). LaVine has essentially matched DeRozan's production (26.0 points), proving his numbers can lead to wins.
Eastern Conference Reserves
- Joel Embiid (12 voter points)
- Jayson Tatum (7)
- LaMelo Ball (7)
- Jarrett Allen (5)
- Jimmy Butler (5)
- Darius Garland (4)
- James Harden (4)
The East reserves are a mix of familiar faces and some fresh blood, with three players making their All-Star debuts.
Embiid scored more votes than Zach LaVine in the B/R writers voting but still finished fourth among frontcourt players, which lands him on the reserve list here. Despite his strong season (25.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 blocks), this would mark the first time Embiid would not be named a starter in what would be his fifth selection.
Ball finished one vote behind LaVine in our voting, with the second-year point guard making his All-Star debut. He's one of just five NBA players averaging at least 19 points and eight assists.
Harden is having a down year by his standards but is still second in the league in assists (9.6) to go along with his 20.8 points and 7.9 rebounds. Butler's played in just 18 of Miami's 32 games thus far, yet has been brilliant on both ends when healthy. Tatum is the other All-Star veteran here, averaging 25.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Perhaps the most surprising team in the NBA, the 19-13 Cleveland Cavaliers, get a pair of their young players on the roster with the game in their home arena.
Allen has been a beast on both ends of the floor, anchoring the Cavs' third-ranked defense while putting up career-highs in points (16.8), rebounds (10.8) and shooting (70.2 percent) to go along with 1.4 blocks per game. Garland has run the offense (19.1 points, 7.3 assists, 39.2 percent from three) with Collin Sexton sidelined with a knee injury and would be a first-time All-Star at age 22.
Also Receiving Votes: Fred VanVleet, Bradley Beal, Domantas Sabonis, Evan Mobley, Kyle Lowry
Western Conference Starters
Backcourt: Stephen Curry (14 voter points), Chris Paul (10)
Frontcourt: Nikola Jokic (13), LeBron James (12), Paul George (9)
*Editor's Note: Chris Paul and Donovan Mitchell tied in voting. Paul earned the nod because of Phoenix's league-best record so far this season.
Three of these are complete locks. Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic are two of the four universally agreed-on MVP candidates at this point (the other two being Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo), and Paul George is carrying a Clippers team that's been surprisingly competitive without Kawhi Leonard.
Donovan Mitchell has a case for the other guard spot, but it's hard to argue with giving the nod to Paul given the Suns' league-best record coming off a Finals appearance.
James gets the third frontcourt spot almost by default. If it were anybody else, the 12 games missed with injuries would be held against him more than it is, and there's no obvious contender to take the spot from him. And when he's played, he's still LeBron. He's never not started an All-Star game he's participated in, and that streak will continue in what will likely be his 18th consecutive appearance.
Western Conference Reserves
- Donovan Mitchell (10 voter points)
- Karl-Anthony Towns (8)
- Luka Doncic (7)
- Devin Booker (6)
- Draymond Green (6)
- Rudy Gobert (6)
- Ja Morant (4)
There aren't many surprises here, with the possible exception of Donovan Mitchell not being a starter. Mitchell's Utah Jazz are a tenth of a point behind the Golden State Warriors for the league's best point differential, so their leading scorer and Rudy Gobert, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, both getting nods makes sense.
After those two, there are three highly productive playmakers who missed a lot of time in Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and Devin Booker. But in this year, with so many health and safety protocol-induced absences, it's probably fair to give a little more leeway on availability.
Draymond Green getting back to the All-Star game makes sense too. His raw stats aren't gaudy, but 7.4 assists from a big who also has a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year is impossible to ignore.
And finally, there is Karl-Anthony Towns, whose last All-Star appearance came back in 2019. He's averaging 24.5 points, shooting 42.6 percent from three and leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to play-in contention.
Also Receiving Votes: Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Dejounte Murray, Anthony Edwards, Andrew Wiggins, DeAndre Ayton