NBA All-Star 2019: Who makes it in Year 2 of the new format
The 68th NBA All-Star Game, set to take place at the Charlotte Hornets Arena, on Sunday, February 17th at 8 p.m. Fans account for 50 percent of the vote. Current NBA players and a selected media panel each account for 25 percent of the vote with every voter completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three front-court players from each conference. Voting for fans, players and media will conclude on Monday, Jan. 21 at midnight.
This is the second year of the revamped format in which after the All-Star starters have been selected, the top two highest vote-getters are named Captain and they chose their teammates in a round robin fashion eschewing the traditional Eastern versus Western Conference format. While last year’s game was exciting and a new novelty, the ratings were slightly down from the previous year. If the ratings suffer a precipitous drop then this format may be abandoned.
The early returns on fan voting have been curious to say the least. Creaky old timers such as Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade have gotten significant votes based on nostalgia while Luka Doncic may end up being the highest rookie vote getter of all time. Its should be noted that Rookies (not even LeBron!) rarely make the All-Star team and it take away the drawing power of the Rookie vs Sophomores game.
Eastern Conference Starters
There are no surprises with the Eastern Conference Starters as my preseason pick for MVP, the Greek Freak,Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard all having career years with Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker being the top two guards in the Eastern Conference. There remains a slight possibility that Victor Oladipo nudges his way into the starters list if he receives a drastic surge in votes.
Eastern Conference All-Stars
Blake Griffin and Victor Oladipo easily make the All-Star bench as they once again turn in a well-rounded statistical seasons and are also leading their teams to the playoffs. Nikola Vucevic stands in line to claim his first All-Star berth with an impressive scoring season as well as providing competent defense.
It’s an unwritten rule that the team with the best conference record must have multiple All-Star participants and assuming the Toronto Raptors continue to lead the pack, Serge Ibaka edges out injured Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to claim his maiden All-Star berth. Andre Drummond is scoring at a career high and leads the league in rebounding. He has made the All-Star team the previous two times he was the rebounding leader.
Bradley Beal remains a curious choice and probably makes it in based on his standard All-Star worthy number despite the horrendous season the Wizards are having.
The final spot goes to Ben Simmons who edges out teammates Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick and D’Angelo Russell. Simmons makes his first All-Star team, despite not attempting a three point shot all season, based on his solid all around numbers and a playing style acutely suited to an exhibition game.
Injured considerations: John Wall, Kyle Lowry
Possible Swansong choice: Dwyane Wade will most likely make the team as part of his farewell tour since it is his last season.
Western Conference Starters
LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis should easily book starting berths in the All-Star game as each player once agains turns in their now customary Hall of Fame seasons. Nikola Jokic snags the remaining frontcourt spot as he’s currently dragging his Denver Nuggets team to the top of the Western Conference by nearly averaging a triple double from the Center position. As a practical matter, Kevin Durant and Paul George, each having impressive seasons, will likely cancel each other out during the voting.
Western Conference All Stars
The aforementioned Paul George and Kevin Durant should also be joined by perennial All-Star Russell Westbrook who is on his way to averaging a third consecutive triple double season despite some horrendous shooting percentages.
Damian Lillard and Karl-Anthony Towns should return to the game as there aren’t many other options at PG and C respectively.
Klay Thompson is having a down year in regards to his shooting percentages but his overall numbers remain strong enough for him to book his 5th consecutive All-Star berth.
Lastly, Tobias Harris beats out Buddy Hield, DeMar DeRozan, CJ McCollum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Kuzma based on his strong number while leading the LA Clippers to serious playoff contention.
Injured considerations: Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins (no games played this season at time of writing)
Possible swansong choice: Dirk Nowitski, who may decline to be considered for the All-Star game but might instead participate in the three point shooting competition.
The voting remains open and perhaps if successful campaigns are run, we can another Bahamian earning an All-Star nod if Buddy Hield can continue his strong start to the season and keeps the Sacramento Kings in contention.