2017 NBA All-Star Game Starters Selection
I can’t believe the NBA season is already half over. It still feels like the NBA Finals was just yesterday. There have been a lot of interesting stories this season, with Durant going to the Warriors, Russell Westbrook putting up triple-doubles like a madman, and James Harden becoming a point guard. The first half of the season has some different teams up in the ranks like the Utah Jazz (5th in Western Conference) and the Milwaukee Bucks (6th in Eastern Conference). Then there are other teams like the Lakers (13th in Western Conference) and the New York Knicks (10th in Eastern Conference) who are not living up to expectations. As of right now it’s looking like a re-rematch of the Warriors and Cavaliers is a possibility as they lead their respective conferences. That would be interesting to see.
Before I get to the important stuff, I want to make a disclaimer that makes me free from ridicule. I would like to say that I DID let my feelings get in the way of some of my choices. I picked some players who put up great numbers in the first half of the season; however, I also picked some players who did pretty well, but I think their combination of youth and explosiveness would make for an exciting NBA All-Star Game. I made one general rule that I couldn’t have two players from the same team; I think it’s more fun to have a large variety of teams show out.
Western Conference Starters
#0 Russell Westbrook - Point Guard
For me, Russell Westbrook is a no-brainer for a Western Conference starter. The guy is averaging a triple-double with 30.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG, and 10.5 APG. Yesterday he posted his 20th triple-double of the season. He broke the record for most in a season with 19, but the record is just a bonus and he doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. That’s Hall of Fame material, my friends. He definitely deserves the starting spot in my mind. On that note, I’m going to leave this here (notice the date):
Russell Westbrook will win MVP this year. #notsoboldprediction— Kyle Clay (@kyleclaydesign) October 31, 2016
Although I say Russ is no-brainer, James Harden is also having a hell of a season. The Rockets made a big lineup change by putting James Harden at point guard. He has been extremely proficient at that position, so it’s safe to say that change paid off. He has put up 12 triple-doubles of his own this year. He’s nearly averaging a triple-double with 28.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 11.7 APG. Steph Curry is definitely an all-star, but I don't think he deserves the start like the first two guys.
#1 Devin Booker - Shooting Guard
Devin Booker has been hot the last several games. In his second year in the NBA, he finally seems to have found a comfort zone where he knows he can put up big numbers. I know that he always looked up to Kobe when he was younger. Last season, Booker received a pair of shoes from the Black Mamba when he visited the Phoenix Suns for the last time on his farewell tour. That kind of gift would give a world of confidence to any player - maybe that’s where Booker finds his motivation.
#35 Kevin Durant - Small Forward
Kevin Durant is probably the most hated player in the NBA right now. Despite being surrounded by a bunch of all-stars on the Warriors, he has still managed to take his desired amount of shots. I was split between KD and Kawhi Leonard. Their numbers are similar, and both deserve an all-star position. Putting KD first is by no means intended to undermine Kawhi’s abilities, but Kevin Durant is a much more electrifying player to watch, therefore making a better candidate for the all-star starting lineup.
#23 Anthony Davis - Power Forward
Anthony Davis is just a monster. He has put up six triple-doubles this season while stacking up a whopping 29.3 PPG and 12.3 RPG. He is really the only power forward that stood out in my mind, so I stuck him in there. Simple as that.
#32 Karl-Anthony Towns - Center
Karl-Anthony Towns is the most athletic big man I’ve seen in recent years. He has unmatched speed AND quickness, unbelievable handles for a big guy, and it’s only his second year in the league. He has a very bright future, and I think he’d be fun to watch in the all-star game. Close seconds are Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins. Marc Gasol has hit a few clutch shots in the first half of the season, and he’s even shown a bit of humor with is ridiculous Conor McGregor walk after one of those shots. DeMarcus Cousins is so passionate about what he does, you can’t help but want to watch him in the all-star game. He made a deal with the fans that he would release a RnB album if they got him the starting spot for the West… that just might happen.
Eastern Conference Starters
#4 Isaiah Thomas - Point Guard
I'm saving a different Cavs player for later in this post, so I'm going to pick Isaiah Thomas as my starter for the East over Kyrie Irving. He's averaging 28.2 PPG with 6.2 APG. It's exciting watching a small guard like Isaiah run the floor, because I see a bit of myself in him. Part of it is his height (or lack thereof), but also because he is a calm, collected player who hustles, and has that winning attitude you like to see. He's finally found a confidence in the NBA where he can put up big numbers, and that's exciting to watch.
#21 Jimmy Butler - Shooting Guard
Although ESPN lists Jimmy as a Small Forward (probably because Dwyane Wade took that role), I’m going to list him as a Shooting Guard. He has been clutch this season, hitting a couple game winners. Despite the Bulls coming out and saying they are willing to part ways with Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, he still shows up and competes - that respect for the game tells you a lot about his professionalism and desire to win.
#23 LeBron James - Small Forward
The Eastern Conference is absolutely stacked at the Small Forward position, but I just can’t help but put LeBron in the starting spot. He is the most outspoken leader in the NBA, he’s an icon, a future Hall-of-Famer - people will be upset if he’s not there. I just happened to put him in the starting position, because I feel he affects the game more than any other player at that position in the East. In my mind, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a close second. He has had a great season so far. There are plenty of highlights of him taking the ball coast to coast and getting to the rim in a big, aggressive way. He’s probably a major reason the Bucks are in 6th in the East right now.
#6 Kristaps Porzingis - Power Forward
Similar to Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis is a big part of the NBA evolution. For a lengthy guy like Kristaps, he can shoot the ball really well from long range (40% on 5.3 3PA to be exact). Karl-Anthony Towns is quicker than him (and he’s a center, which is kind of crazy), but he has an elusive speed that allows him to dribble around defenders and score down low as well.
#21 Joel Embiid - Center
Joel Embiid is quite the character. He has fun doing what he does, and you can’t blame him; the dude plays basketball for a living. Anyway, this tweet sums up his accomplishments this season pretty well:
Joel Embiid continues to impress. Putting up All-Star numbers while only playing 25 MPG— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) January 16, 2017
79.2 FT% pic.twitter.com/adF7MXIn6b
At just 22-years-old, this kid will go on to do big things. If the 76ers can acquire another all-star level player to help “The Process”, they will start racking up wins with ease. Embiid is a great foundation for a team structure.
Well, those are my picks for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Love them or hate them, that is totally fine with me; just be sure to tweet me your thoughts on my choices @kyleclaydotcom. Let me know who you picked and we can have a little discussion.