Analysis: NBA All-Star reserve voting to lead to some snubs

Jan 30, 2023, 12:56 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2023, 11:28 am

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against ...

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Brace yourself. There’s going to be some angry people in the NBA on Thursday night.

With good reason.

The votes from the coaches are now in, and on Thursday, the NBA will reveal the 14 players — seven from the Eastern Conference, seven more from the Western Conference — who got picked to be reserves for the All-Star Game.

They’ll join the pool of 10 starters: the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Brooklyn teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell, Denver’s Nikola Jokic and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson.

And then the cries of snubbing will begin.

Let’s start dissecting this mess with the East. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid is going to be an All-Star reserve, based on both common sense and the fact that NBA coaches wouldn’t dare anger one of the league’s most hard-to-guard players by not voting for him. Boston’s Jaylen Brown, New York’s Julius Randle and Miami’s Bam Adebayo all should be All-Stars.

That’s nine from the East. That leaves no more than three slots left for this group — Atlanta’s Trae Young, Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, New York’s Jalen Brunson, Miami’s Jimmy Butler, Orlando’s Paolo Banchero, Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton and Cleveland’s Darius Garland. And all eight of those guys, plus some others, are all worthy candidates.

“Tyrese Haliburton is an artist,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said earlier this season. “And you know, some people that have unconventional ways to be successful in this game, you have to just leave them alone and allow them to do what they do. His artistry is the way he gets the ball in the basket, the way he sees the game, the way he connects teammates and the special person that he is.”

Sounds like an All-Star. A lot of coaches can make similar arguments for their guys, and not be lying when they make them.

You can see how messy this is going to get.

It might be even worse out West. Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Utah’s Lauri Markkanen, Memphis’ Ja Morant and Portland’s Damian Lillard should be locks for reserve nods. The only question on the Lakers’ Anthony Davis is if missing a bunch of games with injury will weigh on the minds of coaches; his numbers are more than good enough, except for that pesky “games played” column.

If Davis and those five other players make it, that leaves one spot on the West roster. ONE.

Phoenix’s Devin Booker is averaging about 27 points a game. Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards is averaging about 25 points a game. Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox is averaging about 24. Odds are, at least one of those guys will miss out on being picked Thursday night.

Maybe two. Maybe even all three.

Denver leads the Western Conference and should have more than one All-Star, so that suggests Aaron Gordon — who has been fantastic this season — will get a long look. An All-Star Game without Los Angeles Clippers teammates Paul George and Kawhi Leonard would make no sense, given how they’re playing this season. But that could happen. New Orleans’ CJ McCollum has averaged nearly 20 points per game in his career, is averaging a tick above that this season, and still hasn’t been an All-Star. Coaches had to have considered Phoenix’s Chris Paul for their ballots as well.

All we know for certain is there will be some very good players who didn’t make the cut.

There were 56 players who entered this week averaging at least 20 points per game; not all were officially qualified for the NBA scoring-leader list because they hadn’t played enough games to be eligible.

Simple math tells us this much: 56 players averaging 20 per game, and 24 spots on the All-Star rosters, means at least 32 of those guys are going to be on the outside looking in when the rest of the teams are revealed.

Put it this way: There will be enough “snubbed” guys out there that, if they were so inclined, they could all get together and play their own All-Star Game. And even then there would be a few players who wouldn’t make a squad.

Coaches had a tough job to do, narrowing all the worthy candidates for All-Star reserve nods down to seven players from their conferences. A few guys who are left out Thursday will still probably find their way to the game; if anyone who was selected can’t play because of injury — Williamson, for example, is currently out with a hamstring problem — then Commissioner Adam Silver will choose replacements.

It’ll be an interesting ballot reveal, for certain.


Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Analysis: NBA All-Star reserve voting to lead to some snubs