All-Star Game

Community Shootaround: All-Star Lineups

Today, the NBA released the first batch of its 2020 All-Star fan voting returns. Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Lakers forward LeBron James lead the pack with over a million votes apiece.

While many of the top selections feel appropriate, there are several fluky inclusions that reek of trolling. Specifically, Lakers backup point guard Alex Caruso (who averages 5.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG and 1.7 APG in just 19.2 MPG) made the cut among the top 10 Western Conference guards, and two-way Celtics backup center Tacko Fall, who has played just three NBA games, made the list of top 10 Eastern Conference front court players.

Irresponsible votes along these lines serve as a clear example as to why fan votes are now only weighted for 50% of the total voting for All-Star game starters. Among the remaining 50%, 25% of the weighted votes are allotted to NBA players, and the remaining 25% of votes are designated for select basketball media. NBA coaches select the 14 bench players. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver makes injury substitutions.

Starting teams consist of two guards and three frontcourt players. Select wing players are listed at both guard and frontcourt positions. Bench teams for each conference comprise two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild card players of any position.

Among Eastern Conference guards, the NetsKyrie Irving (who has played in just 11 games for Brooklyn) and the 7-27 Hawks’ Trae Young are leading in fan votes over the Celtics’ Kemba Walker. Pistons backup Derrick Rose and Bulls guard Zach LaVine, two offense-only players on teams that are currently sitting on the outside of the East’s top eight squads, round out the top five among East guards. The Hawks have the single-worst record in the NBA. No matter how pretty Young’s offensive stat line is, he does not deserve All-Star inclusion this season. His lackluster defense has played a part in the Hawks’ struggles.

On the Western Conference guards’ bracket, Stephen Curry ranks among the top four in West votes for guards, despite having played just four games this season.

Heat wing Jimmy Butler deserves to start, either at guard or frontcourt. Currently ranked fourth among frontcourt options in the East, Butler is enjoying an MVP-caliber season for the No. 3 team (posting a 24-9 record) in an atypically loaded East.

There are several viable options for first-time All-Star status. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are scoring and defending in bunches for the 23-8 Celtics. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are picking up the slack in the absence of Kawhi Leonard on the Raptors.

Big man Bam Adebayo has emerged as a dynamic two-way force on the HeatDomantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon have been keeping the surprisingly resilient 22-12 Pacers afloat as Victor Oladipo continues to recover.

Spencer Dinwiddie has been balling out on the 16-16 Nets sans Irving. Jazz teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert continue to put in work for an under-appreciated 21-12 season. Doncic’s numbers in Dallas have been stellar.

Here are this writer’s choices for the 2020 All-Star teams:

Eastern Conference
Starters: Guard – Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown. Frontcourt – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid.
Bench: Guard – Ben Simmons, Kyle LowryFrontcourt – Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum. Wild Card: Domantas Sabonis, Spencer Dinwiddie.

Western Conference
Starters: Guard – James Harden, Luka DoncicFrontcourt – LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard.
Bench: Guard – Russell Westbrook, Donovan MitchellFrontcourt – Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, Paul GeorgeWild Card: Damian Lillard, Chris Paul.

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, Young, LaVine and Suns guard Devin Booker all have a decent chance at netting an All-Star nod this season, but their teams have been so underwhelming that rewarding them in favor of top players on better squads feels inappropriate.

What do you think? Who are your 2020 All-Star team starters and bench players? Why?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in!

Western Conference All-Stars: Who Should Start?

Voting for the NBA 2020 All-Star Game has opened up. We examined who should be the starters in the east on Wednesday. Now let’s take a look at who deserves the starting nod in the Western Conference.

Backcourt Selections

James Harden, Houston Rockets

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Where would the Rockets be without James Harden this season? The perennial MVP candidate is carrying the scoring load for Houston, averaging an insane 38.1 points per game, and his VORP tops all players in the league.

Luka Doncic‘s return to the lineup likely closes any window that would allow Damian Lillard to take over the other starting spot (Lillard would be the first guard I’d choose for second-team All-NBA if that ballot was cast today).

Frontcourt Selections

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

The frontcourt in the Western Conference has a clear-cut top three and perhaps the only way to unseat the future Kawhi LeonardAnthony DavisLeBron James trio is for one to miss significant time between now and when voting ends for the All-Star starters. James could miss time with his nagging groin injury over the next month, but it’s fair to wonder whether another frontcourt player has the resume to supplant James regardless of how many games he misses.

Both Karl-Anthony Towns and Paul George have also missed chunks of time with various ailments. And while Brandon Ingram should certainly earn an All-Star spot with the numbers he’s putting up this season, LeBron’s year to date is arguably more impressive than anything his former teammate could do between now and the end of January to close the gap.

In year 17 of our King from Akron, only four players have a higher win share than the soon-to-be 35-year-old and if you exclude Doncic, Harden, and Giannis, no player has a higher VORP. Not to mention the raw stats: 25.7 PPG, 10.6 APG, and 7.6 RPG. LBJ has likely done enough already to earn a starting spot in the Western Conference regardless of how many games he misses over the next month.

Who do you believe should be the starters in the Western Conference? Take to the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the matter. We look forward to what you have to say!

Eastern Conference All-Stars: Who Should Start?

Voting for the NBA 2020 All-Star Game has opened up, so let’s examine who should be voted in for the Eastern Conference.

Backcourt Selections

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

There are many permutations to consider when parsing through the top guards in the east. Where would the Pacers be without Malcolm Brogdon? Should we throw Kemba Walker in here for reviving the Celtics? Do either Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet deserve consideration for helping to keep the Raptors afloat? Can we recognize Devonte’ Graham‘s breakout as legit?

Ultimately, Ben Simmons and Bradley Beal get the nod here, though both candidacies have their flaws. Simmons’ raw stats could be more impressive; Beal could be more efficient. But the circumstances surrounding each player matter in addition to the stats. Simmons’ defensive prowess has been on display, while Beal has showcased his ability as a first-option scorer (28.2 PPG) and top facilitator (7.0 APG) despite having defenses key on him nearly every game.

Frontcourt Selections

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Giannis leads the league in TPA and is the frontrunner to win the MVP award again. Embiid is having another dominant season and has only missed six games so far.

Butler’s debut season in Miami has gone as well as anyone had hoped. The 30-year-old wing is averaging a career-high in assists, doling out nearly twice as many setups (6.8 APG) as his career average (3.6). His advanced stats are rather impressive as well. Out of all Eastern Conference players, Butler sits third in TPA, second in plus/minus, and third in VORP. He’s lifted the team statistically, all while being a consummate teammate.

Giving Butler the nod over Pascal Siakam was not an easy decision. If this were All-NBA, I might have slotted Butler as a guard (he’s expected to be a G/F on that ballet) and given Siakam the last forward slot. However, the power forward has no timetable to return from his groin injury and that – coupled with his dip in efficiency this season – cost Siakam a starting spot.

Who do you believe should be the starters in the Eastern Conference? Take to the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the matter. We look forward to what you have to say!

Utah To Host 2023 NBA All-Star Game

Salt Lake City has been chosen as the site for the NBA’s All-Star Game in 2023, the league announced in a press release. The contest will mark the 30th anniversary of the last All-Star Game in Utah in 1993.

Commissioner Adam Silver made a formal announcement today at a press conference at Vivint Smart Home Arena (video link from Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune), joined by Larry H. Miller Group of Companies owner and chairman Gail Miller, along with team officials and local dignitaries.

“Along with a rich basketball tradition, Salt Lake City has proven to be a world-class destination for large-scale events and sports competitions,” Silver said.  “I want to thank the Miller family and the Utah Jazz organization for their commitment to hosting our All-Star festivities and to developing a program that will leave a lasting impact on the community.”

The game is scheduled for February 19, 2023, and will cap off the traditional three days of basketball activities. NBA Cares and Diversity & Inclusion events will also be held during the weekend.

“The return of the NBA All-Star Game to Salt Lake City is a tremendous honor and an opportunity for us to welcome back the NBA family for one of basketball’s biggest events,” Miller added. “The memory of John Stockton and Karl Malone sharing MVP honors 30 years ago remains strong.  We are excited to create new memories for this generation of NBA fans in a place that loves to celebrate basketball.”

The NBA’s next three All-Star games before the event in Utah will take place in Chicago (2020), Indiana (2021), and Cleveland (2022).

Adam Silver Considering Adding Tournament To NBA Schedule

Adam Silver is not opposed to change. The NBA commissioner is open to handing out another trophy aside from the Larry O’Brien and he’s watching the European soccer leagues closely as he evaluates a possible plan to hand out another prize during the NBA’s regular season, as Marc Stein of the New York Times relays.

“It’s incumbent on me to constantly be looking at other organizations and seeing what it is we can do better and learn from them,” Silver told Stein. “In the case of European soccer, I think there is something we can learn from them.”

“I also recognize I’m up against some of the traditionalists who say no one will care about that other competition, that other trophy, you create. And my response to that is, ‘Organizations have the ability to create new traditions.’ It won’t happen overnight.”

Both a mid-season tournament and a play-in playoff tournament are concepts that the league is “studying fairly intensely,” per Stein. To make any change with the league’s current 82-game format, Silver will have to have cooperation from the players and the owners. Stein writes that the league’s TV partners would have “considerable input” as well. No formal proposal has been submitted at this time.

“I’m looking at things from a fan standpoint,” Silver said. “I’m looking at how to create the most exciting season and experience, especially in a rapidly changing media market where fans are in essence voting every day whether they want to watch your product.”

“Another marker for me is that we’re a few seasons away from our 75th anniversary,” Silver continued, referring to the 2021/22 campaign. “I think that milestone gives us a pillar around which to think about the history of the league and experiment — maybe just for the 75th anniversary — with some potential changes.”

The league “does not want to change the length of the season,” Silver tells Stein. If the tournament is added to the 82-game schedule, teams may see a more condensed schedule than they had this past season.

“The most-watched league in the world is only 27 years old,” Silver said, referring to soccer’s Premier League. “So the idea that the NBA can’t create new traditions over time makes no sense to me.”

Phasing out the All-Star game could be another change that Silver brings. Adding a potential tournament during All-Star weekend alongside a 3-point and dunk contest is a possibility.

Neither of the tournament options is definitely on the horizon but Silver said that “change is inevitable.”

Should the NBA add a tournament during the regular season or a play-in tournament at season’s end? Should they replace the All-Star game with a new-wave idea?

Let us know your thoughts below. We look forward to what you have to say!

And-Ones: Hoiberg, Donaghy, All-Star Game

Shortly after being dismissed by the Bulls earlier this season, Fred Hoiberg told ESPN that he’d be focused on finding a coaching job, rather than seeking a front office position, when he resumes his career. However, Hoiberg’s stance on his next job has softened a little recently, as Travis Hines of The Ames Tribune details.

“If the right front office opportunity did come around, I would potentially look at that,” Hoiberg said. “When I was just getting out of coaching (the Bulls), that was the first thing on my mind and still is. But if the right front office opportunity came about, that is something I would look at.”

While Hoiberg said he appreciated the opportunity to spend time with his family this year, he admitted that he misses the “grind” of coaching, adding that he’d be open to a college head coaching position as well, despite his distaste for the recruiting process.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Earlier this week, Scott Eden of published a fascinating piece laying out how former NBA referee Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games. The NBA pushed back against that narrative, however, arguing today in an official response that Eden’s story “adds little to the existing record” and contending that much of the new material in the report is inaccurate or misleading.
  • The Knicks weren’t the only team whose deadline moves impacted their summer cap projections. Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes a look at several of the clubs whose offseason outlook was affected by this month’s trades.
  • Back in the fall, the NBA G League announced it would offer a handful of “select contracts,” worth $125K, to elite prospects coming out of high school. Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores how those contracts might work, and how those players might be assigned to G League teams.
  • In the wake of a fairly underwhelming All-Star Game in Charlotte, veteran broadcaster and former head coach Jeff Van Gundy said he’s in favor of eliminating the game, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I would name All-Stars, I would have All-Star weekend, they have all these things, introduce them … the players are great, they should be applauded,” Van Gundy said. “But to take this game and shoot 160 threes, it’s an embarrassment”

LeBron, Giannis Draft 2019 All-Star Teams

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted their teams for the 2019 All-Star Game on Thursday, officially finalizing the rosters for this year’s contest. James and Antetokounmpo were chosen as captains because they were the All-Star starter from each conference with the most fan votes.

Both James and Antetokounmpo first had to select from a pool of starters, then from a list of reserve players. The starters, which consisted of eight other players, were voted on by the fans, players and media this season. The reserve players were voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches.

James drafted Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden as starters, choosing Durant as his first selection. His reserves were Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and Dwyane Wade.

Antetokounmpo drafted Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and Kemba Walker as his starters, selecting Curry with his first pick. He drafted Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry and Dirk Nowitzki as his reserves.

James later traded Westbrook to Team Giannis in exchange for Simmons, making an effort to repair the relationship of Westbrook and Embiid.

The 68th NBA All-Star Game is set to commence on February 17 at Spectrum Center, featuring 26 of the best basketball players in the world.

Three-Point, Skills And Dunk Contest Participants Announced

The NBA has announced the participants for the Three-Point Shootout, Skills Challenge, and Slam Dunk Contest set to take place the night before the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte on Feb. 16.

The Three-Point Shootout will include defending champion Devin Booker (Suns), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Stephen Curry (Warriors), Kemba Walker (Hornets), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Danny Green (Raptors), Seth Curry (Trail Blazers), Joe Harris (Nets) and Buddy Hield (Kings).

Nowitzki, in what may be his final season, will be a key participant to watch, as will the brother duo of Seth and Steph and the local favorite Walker.

In the Skills Challenge, the contestants include Mike Conley (Grizzlies), Luka Doncic (Mavericks), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Trae Young (Hawks), De’Aaron Fox (Kings), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Kyle Kuzma (Lakers) and Nikola Vucevic (Magic).

Finally, the Dunk Contest features Dennis Smith Jr. (Knicks), Miles Bridges (Hornets), John Collins (Hawks) and Hamidou Diallo (Thunder). Smith, fresh off a trade to New York, is the lone returning contestant as he was eliminated in the first round of the 2018 Dunk Contest. Diallo replaced the injured Derrick Jones.

D’Angelo Russell Replaces Oladipo In All-Star Game

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell has been added to the 2019 All-Star Game by the NBA, the league announced today in a press release. Russell will take the place of injured Pacers guard Victor Oladipo on the roster.

[RELATED: Nowitzki, Wade Added To All-Star Game]

It’s the first All-Star selection for Russell, who has enjoyed a breakout season in his second year in Brooklyn. The former second overall pick is averaging career-best marks in PPG (19.6), APG (6.4), FG% (.438), 3PT% (.374), and a number of other categories, en route to leading the Nets to a 28-25 record. That mark puts the team comfortably in the No. 6 spot in the East.

Russell was viewed as one of the East’s top snubs when the All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday, and it seemed to be just a matter of time until he replaced Oladipo on the roster. The Pacers guard is sidelined for the rest of the season with a ruptured quad tendon.

You can check out the rest of the 2019 All-Star reserves right here.

Nowitzki, Wade Added To All-Star Game

A pair of NBA veterans will make one last All-Star appearance before retirement, as the league announced today that Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade will be “special team roster additions” for the February 17 game.

“Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade embody the best of the NBA: remarkable skill, drive and professionalism as well as a deep devotion to strengthening their communities and growing the game around the world,” said NBA commisioner Adam Silver. “As a global celebration of basketball, our All-Star Game is an ideal setting to salute these first-class NBA champions and Finals MVPs.”

Nowitzki and Wade won’t be part of the regular draft when LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo choose up sides on February 7. They will be selected in a third round that allows each team to add a 13th player. The remaining eight starters as chosen by the fans will be taken in the first round, with the reserves going in the second round.

This will be the 14th All-Star appearance for Nowitzki, who is in his 21st NBA season, all with the Mavericks. He is the seventh-leading scorer in league history with 31,275 points, has made 12 All-NBA teams and has won both an MVP and Finals MVP award. He hasn’t announced his retirement plans, but there is speculation that this will be his final season.

Wade, who is conducting his “Last Dance” tour around the league, will be headed to the game for the 13th time. He was named All-Star MVP in 2010 and put together a triple-double in 2012. He has won three NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal and was named MVP of the 2006 Finals.

Wade was an eight-time selection to the All-NBA team and made three appearances on the All-Defensive Team. He is the Heat’s career leader in points, assists, steals, field goals made, free throws made and games played.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.