Analysis: All-Star reserve vote will lead to snubs

Prepare yourselves. There are going to be angry people in the NBA on Thursday night.

With reason.

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

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

And then the cries of snobbery 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 toughest players to keep. by not voting for him. Boston’s Jaylen Brown, New York’s Julius Randle and Miami’s Bam Adebayo should all be All-Stars.

It’s nine from the east. That leaves just three spots left for this group – Trae Young from Atlanta, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine from Chicago, Jalen Brunson from New York, Jimmy Butler from Miami, Paolo Banchero from Orlando, Tyrese Haliburton from Indiana and Darius Garland of Cleveland. And all of those eight guys, plus a few more, are all worthy candidates.

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

It looks like an All-Star. A lot of coaches can make similar points for their guys, and not lie when they do.

You can see how messy this is going to get.

It could be even worse in the West. Domantas Sabonis of Sacramento, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Oklahoma City, Lauri Markkanen of Utah, Ja Morant of Memphis and Damian Lillard of Portland should be locks for reserve nods. The only question about the Lakers’ Anthony Davis is whether missing a bunch of games with injury will weigh on the minds of coaches; its numbers are more than adequate, except for that pesky games column.

If Davis and those five other players are successful, that leaves a spot on the West’s roster. A.

Phoenix’s Devin Booker averages about 27 points per game. Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards averages about 25 points per game. De’Aaron Fox of Sacramento averages around 24 years old. Chances are at least one of these guys will miss their selection on Thursday night.

Maybe two. Maybe even all three.

Denver leads the Western Conference and is expected to have more than one All-Star, which suggests Aaron Gordon — who’s been fantastic this season — will have a long look. An All-Star Game without Los Angeles Clippers teammates Paul George and Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t make sense, given the way they’re playing this season. But it could happen. New Orleans’ CJ McCollum has averaged nearly 20 points per game in his career, is averaging a tick above this season, and still hasn’t been an All-Star. Coaches also had to consider Phoenix’s Chris Paul for their ballots.

All we know for sure is that there will be some very, very good players who didn’t make it.

There were 56 players who signed up this week averaging at least 20 points per game; not all were officially qualified for the NBA’s top scorers list because they had not played enough games to be eligible.

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

In other words, there will be enough “snubbed” guys 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 it into a squad.

The coaches had a tough job to do, narrowing down all worthy All-Star reserve contenders to seven players from their conferences. A few guys who are left out on Thursday will likely still find their way into the game; if someone who has been selected cannot play due to injury – Williamson, for example, is currently out with a hamstring problem – then commissioner Adam Silver will choose replacements.

This will be an interesting voting reveal, for sure.


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


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