NBA All-Star Game voting starts this week and this feels like an appropriate time to make some early selections. As was the case last year, fans account for 50 percent of the voting, while media and players each count 25 percent. After the starters are selected, the coaches will pick the reserves.
Unlike last year, we’ll have two teams drawn up between the 24 players selected and chosen by two captains. There will still be a dozen players representing each conference, which doesn’t make a ton of sense given the new format. Also the captains’ choices may be made in secret, which is completely absurd.
Whatever. It’s an all-star game. Please note that a few of these picks can and probably will change between now and January when final selections are due.
Let’s start in the East with the backcourt.
Kyrie Irving: Despite an uptick in his shooting percentages, Kyrie’s offensive numbers look an awful lot like his numbers last season with the Cavaliers. So, why does this feel like a breakthrough season? Perhaps it’s because many of us weren’t sure he’d be able to do this as the featured star. Fewer still believed he’d be able to lead the Celtics to the best record in the conference without Gordon Hayward. Kyrie’s been the goods offensively, especially late in games, but it’s his noticeably improved defense that puts him ahead of his contemporaries in this discussion. It’s Kyrie’s world; a big, beautiful, round world
The Eastern Conference backcourt is crowded with a half-dozen other players warranting serious consideration. Lowry remains as impactful as ever and DeRozan is having another DeRozan-esque season. He’s a three-time all-star and that will carry weight with coaches. Beal is close to his first nod and so is Ben Simmons, who is the only rookie with a legit shot of being selected. We’ll need to make room for John Wall once he gets a few more games under his belt and Kemba Walker is trying mightily to keep the sinking Hornets afloat. Good players will be left home.