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 Nets‘ Kyrie 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 Heat. Domantas 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:
Starters: Guard – Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown. Frontcourt – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid.
Bench: Guard – Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry. Frontcourt – Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum. Wild Card: Domantas Sabonis, Spencer Dinwiddie.
Starters: Guard – James Harden, Luka Doncic. Frontcourt – LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard.
Bench: Guard – Russell Westbrook, Donovan Mitchell. Frontcourt – Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, Paul George. Wild 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!