I guess I should cry too… no Charlotte? ???
— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) February 1, 2019
No, Draymond, don’t cry… you can always find solace in your three NBA Finals trophies.
Other players, such as teary-eyed Rudy Gobert, don’t have the same luxury.
Playing in the All Star Game is an important accolade for NBA players and their teams. To recognize a player as an All Star is a nod to the player’s impact, commitment, and talent, and it also boosts a team’s popularity and spirits. An All Star is a standout member of the team, whose performances on the court sway the outcome of each game. Players such as DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum, and of course Rudy Gobert, are formidable forces on the court that work hard every week to contribute to their team’s success-
But not hard enough, evidently, to be named All Stars.
This Sunday in Charlotte, there are no players who, plain and simple, do not deserve to be there. Every player named as a starter or reserve on either Team Giannis or Team LeBron have certainly earned their All Star shout throughout the course of the season so far. That being said, there are still several players (especially the rightfully sad Rudy Gobert) who deserve to be there- and a few that they could replace:
Rudy Gobert: in for Karl-Anthony Towns
Let’s get this one out of the way. The All Star Game is, in theory, a way to honor the best players in the League. Gobert, 2018’s Defensive Player of the Year, is one of the best in the league. Not only should he have been selected, he should have been considered for a starting spot. This season, Gobert has been an asset to the success of the Utah Jazz (currently sixth in the West), averaging 15.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. Gobert also leads the league in field goal percentage, with 65.4% of his shots being makes.
These numbers are not just comparable to, but better than, his DPOY season last year- and the season hasn’t ended yet. While I am a massive supporter of fellow-New Jerseyan Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves have not enjoyed a great season and Towns only leads Gobert in points and assists. If the All Star Game is ever to lose its reputation as an offense-only showcase, Gobert will be the solution.
DeMar DeRozan: in for Klay Thompson
While the Compton, California native donned a shirt other than the Raptors’ for the first time since getting drafted, his impressive capabilities did not skip a beat. While it’s difficult to say DeRozan should replace the scaffolding-expert, three time NBA Champion Klay Thompson, the Spurs guard has been an All Star for the past three seasons consecutively, led the Raptors into the Playoffs in the past two seasons, and averages more rebounds and assists this year than last- and more than Thompson this season. The rest of their average numbers this season are comparable- Thompson’s 1.1 steals to DeRozan’s 1.0, Thompson’s 21.9 points to DeRozan’s 21.4, and Thompson’s 0.7 blocks to DeRozan’s 0.5- but DeRozan’s boards and assists this season make him more of a threat than Klay.
Luka Doncic: in for Dirk Nowitzki
Unless Doncic drops off the face of the Earth, he is a shoe-in for the All Star Game next season in Chicago- if Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t given the nod to play this year ahead of his retirement, his dynamic Slovene coworker would have filled the spot on the roster, no question. For his rookie season in the league, Stepback-Doncic averages 20.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Of course, it’s exciting and bittersweet to see Dirk Nowitzki take the All Star court for the last time in the twilight of his illustrious career, but don’t worry Mavs fans: Luka Doncic is 19 years old and is considered one of the highest profile All Star snubs.
Imagine how good he’ll be when he finishes puberty.
Jimmy Butler: in for Khris Middleton
The Bucks are good. Middleton is good. But Jimmy Buckets?- he’s great.
Jimmy Butler is playing with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and STILL averages 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. JB also averages more steals, points, and blocks than Middleton this season, and, let’s face it, has better hair. When Jimmy Butler is firing on all cylinders, he’s almost impossible to stop. This is the kind of energy the All Star Game needs.
Other Notable Snubs and Inclusions:
D’Angelo Russell: The Nets are finally showing some grit. Russell spearheads a young group of hard-working playoff contenders, and is blossoming as a result. The Lakers should regret trading him- he’s an All Star now. Brooklyn’s highest scorer, DLoading should have been included in the reserves squad before Oladipo got injured- now he just has to go out there and prove it.
Jayson Tatum: Boston’s young stud, despite their lackluster performances this season, has been consistently entertaining. The Celtics are noticeably better with him on the court, and he averages 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. The sky is the limit for Tatum, and the question is not IF he’ll be an All Star, it’s when.
This edition of the All Star Break in Charlotte looks to be a promising one. Expect to see lots of young talent, exciting play, and a bittersweet goodbye to Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade. As for the players who didn’t make the All Star game?
There’s always next year.