We are past the halfway point of the NBA season and All-Star weekend is a month away. The results of the fan votes are being reported and we likely know who the starters will be. Over the next few weeks, the rest of the teams will be decided and there are bound to be some players who get snubbed.
With only 12 spots and so much of the starters determined by popularity, there will be legitimate All-Stars who get snubbed. Who might have a gripe come February?
Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz
The Finnish forward has used his excellent play for Finland during EuroBasket last summer to catapult him into his best season as a pro. He’s averaging a career-high 24 points and eight rebounds per game on 51/41/86 shooting splits. He’s 61 eFG% and 67 TS%. He’s 11th in EPM, ahead of Bron at +5.7. He is the best player on a surprising Jazz team that is only a half a game out of the No. 6 seed.
By all measures he should be an All-Star. But there are only six guaranteed front-0court spots with two wild cards. Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the top three vote getters. The next three are Zion Williamson, Andrew Wiggins, and Paul George.
Markkanen should start alongside Jokic and Bron. He is more deserving than Zion and Wiggins. But he plays in Utah and is a virtual unknown to casual fans.
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are above .500, much to many people’s surprise and Haliburton is the engine. He’s averaging 20 points and 10 assists per game, leading the league in the latter. He’s shooting 39 percent from three on seven attempts per game. He’s a 58 eFG%, 62 TS% and +5.2 in EPM.
He is currently eighth in fan voting among East guards behind LaMelo Ball, Trae Young, and DeMar DeRozan, whom he’s performed better than all season.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant lead their respective conferences in the second fan returns of #NBAAllStar Voting presented by AT&T.
Fans account for 50% of the vote to decide All-Star starters. NBA players and a media panel account for 25% each.
The next fan update is Jan. 19. pic.twitter.com/SEwhsuNWcE
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 12, 2023
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Who is the MVP of the Grizzlies this season? Most people will say Ja Morant and the argument is not difficult to make. Morant is averaging 27 points and nearly eight assists per game. He’s among the league leaders in paint scoring at 6 feet 2. He makes highlight plays on a nightly basis.
But the Grizzlies were a middling to poor defense during the first part of the season. Coincidentally, Jackson was out with injury the first 14 games. Since his return they have jumped to the No. 1 defense in the league, and Jackson is the clear Defensive Player of the Year favorite.
Jackson Jr. is 10th in the NBA in EPM at +5.8. Ahead of Bron, Donovan Mitchell, James Harden, Haliburton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Morant. Offensively, Jackson is averaging 16 points per game on 37 percent from three.
Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
Again, with only 12 spots per conference there are going to be deserving players who get left off because of the popularity of other players. It’s the business of basketball and brands matter.