There will be a lot of discussion concerning how the teams should be filled out, but here are the best.
The NBA announced the 2019 All-Star Game starters and captains on Thursday night, with LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo getting the majority of the votes from a combination of coaches, players and fans.
Team LeBron will face off against Team Giannis in Charlotte on February 17th in the second year of a format in which the lauded team captains personally select the reserves from a pool of remaining players unrestricted by Conference.
The 10 starters were determined by a mix of fan voting, player voting, and media voting. NBA coaches will determine the seven reserve players from each conference, which will be announced on January 31st.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the record-holder with 19.
There weren’t any huge surprises with the two teams and you can’t really say anybody got “snubbed” because the players chosen are the best and most popular players in the NBA.
There will be a lot of discussion concerning how the teams should be filled out. Here are our next five best players off the bench after the starters.
1. PG Russell Westbrook
OKC’s walking triple-double is still the statistical king when it comes to mastering the phases of scoring, rebounding and assisting. Westbrook’s 21.9 ppg, 10.8 boards, and 10.7 assists set him up for a third straight year of averaging a triple-double.
He’s still an alien in that regard. Westbrook’s a former MVP and his scoring is down because he has increased his role as a leader and ball distributor with a conscious, allowing Paul George to flourish, which has resulted in OKC standing strong at 30-18 in third place in the West.
2. PF Anthony Davis
The Brow was actually tied with Paul George in weighted voting, but George surprisingly won the fan support and the tiebreaker. We know Davis is a Top 10 player for sure and he carries the New Orleans Pelicans on his mighty back. He has this season’s highest PER (31.0), plus ranks Top 5 in points (29.3, second), blocks (2.6, second) and rebounds (13.3, third).
Choose any respected metric you want and he’s among the league leaders. Plus, he shows up when the lights are on. In 2017, The Brow took the game’s MVP honors, scoring a record 52 points.
3. F Blake Griffin
It’s amazing how life works. Griffin has gone from one of the most overrated and over marketed players in the NBA with the LA Clippers, to one of the most underrated and ignored players with the Detroit Pistons.
It’s hard to imagine that Griffin got better when he came to Detroit, but his 26.3 ppg scoring average is a career-high and he’s carrying Detroit offensively.
4. G Damian Lillard
The annual All-Star snubbing of Dame D.O.L.L.A. continues so there won’t be any rant coming. To be honest, Lillard can’t ever expect to acquire more votes than Steph Curry or James Harden or even Klay Thompson, while playing in Portland and never advancing anywhere in the playoffs.
We know he’s nice and maybe every bit as good as Kyrie Irving and other elite guards, but until he plays on the big stage in a big-time city, Lillard will always have to be happy with being one of the first All-Star reserves off the bench.
5. PG Ben Simmons
Simmons has shot 35 jumpers in 48 games this season. Once you get over that and the fact that he’s a multi-faceted point guard with a throwback style, then you can clearly see how dominant he is at his position, despite his scoring deficiencies.
With the exception of scoring, Simmons is probably a superior all-around player to Victor Oladipo (recently out for the season with injury) and starter Kemba Walker — his stiffest All-Star competition.
Simmons led both players in rebounds (9.5), assists (8.3), field-goal shooting (57.8) and team wins (32-17). Simmons is the real deal. He’s still chasing the hype that preceded him when he came in the league.