Which Eastern Conference Guards Should Be All-Stars?
Is it already time for All-Star voting? Soon enough, everyone will be watching future basketball stars duke it out in March. Then not too long after that, it’s playoff time. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The All-Star game is coming before both of those, and with an impressively talented and deep league, there’ll be entertaining basketball played.
Setting the Eastern Conference Table
Of the four groups (east guards, east bigs, west guards, west bigs), the east guards are the most tribulated. Most voters are deciding between Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Darius Garland, and Tyrese Haliburton. Trae Young is omitted for the condemnation his efficiency is having on his Hawks. It’s not that there aren’t BIG names on that list. It’s that their names drag along an immobilizing amount of baggage and dislike. This makes the selection tougher.
What Make’s an All-Star?
Before engaging in comparisons and argumentation, let’s do with less haste and answer some questions. What exactly makes an All-Star an All-Star? Not everyone votes with the same criteria, like how people choose different restaurants at the mall cafeteria.
Gilbert Arenas had his opinion on how to vote, and the 2023 fan returns show the fanbase’s bias. There may not be a best way to do it, and that’s fine. As long as there’s an explanation, all’s well.
In order for you, the reader, to know how the selections will be done in this article… here’s a neat bulleted list.
- Who is worth the most wins?
No matter how it’s done, does the player contribute to winning? This doesn’t have to be complicated. Players that score efficiently, defend, create opportunities for teammates, protect the ball or take it away will be rewarded with votes. Basketball Reference’s (BR’s) win shares will also be used here in order to have comparable and tangible numbers. Note: Defensive win shares are naturally biased toward good teams. In addition, using one stat to determine the value of a player is a big “no-no.”
- What happens when you take them off their team?
Role players shan’t be forgotten. It’s easier to see the difference a player makes when they’re injured. Box scores not only fail to tell the whole story, but they can also tell the opposite one. Just look at Brook Lopez. He can’t compete with the colossal rebounding numbers of his peers, but he’s actually an extraordinary rebounder. He doesn’t watch the ball; he finds the nearest big guy and boxes him out, allowing his teammates to have clear runways to the ball.
- Are they available?
The player, no matter how talented, has to show up to games in uniform. Fluke injuries are no fun, but there has to be a line.
Is Donovan Mitchell an All-Star?
Last year’s Cavs compared to this year’s Cavs… wow. Mitchell brings some zest to an already compelling Cavs crew. The dude permeates offense, and BR loves him as he’s 5th in win shares (5.3). He still tends to overhelp on defense which hasn’t led to pretty advanced defensive numbers, but he’s stayed steady, showing the ability to play solid defense. He’s an All-Star, and his ridiculous scoring efficiency pushes him to a starting spot.
Is Jaylen Brown?
Brown doesn’t struggle statistically when he’s the star of the show. Without fellow jay Jayson Tatum, he puts up All-Star caliber numbers. The regular Brown with Tatum by his side isn’t tasked with as much. Compared to the other guys, his scoring efficiency lacks. He’s still a hallmark of versatility and shooting, but it’s difficult to argue for him over the others.
Is Kyrie Irving an All-Star?
Kyrie would be a starter based on the early fan returns, and it’s not farfetched to think the players and media will vote the same. If anything was going to get in his way to the game, it would be availability. He’s played in 28 of the Nets’ 38 games (as of January 5th) which is a 60-game pace for the season. Sixty games isn’t atrocious; he’s not costing Brooklyn a shot at the playoffs with just 60 games.
He’s been the same old Kyrie. CraftedNBA stats work in his favor, but he lacks slightly in win shares (3.1). Nevertheless, he’s a viable option for the game.
What About James Harden?
The Beard doesn’t get whistles like he used to. Perhaps he needs to grow it out more? The longer the beard equals, the higher chances someone gets caught in it.
In all seriousness, Harden is a surefire All-Star. NBA Twitter has steadily been beating a drum called “Where was the prime Harden love at tho?” every time Luka Doncic flicks his magic wand. Rather than focusing on his decreased scoring volume, appreciate his Naismith-level playmaking.
Some basketball gurus view the game as a series of advantages and disadvantages. Passing into positions in order to promote the best offense. Eliminating space from enemies to eradicate scoring opportunities. A stat called “advantages created” was recently made, much to the excitement of the advantages-disadvantages proponents of basketball philosophy. Harden creates a hefty amount of advantages for his team, and with them, he makes an argument to be an All-Star starter.
Is Darius Garland an All-Star?
Coming off a selection in 2022, Garland remains in the running for 2023. Unfortunately for him, there are too many better players for him to realistically sneak his way in. The easiest way for him to get back to All-Star status would be an improvement in defense, which is unlikely considering his lengthy disappointing history in that category to go along with this stature. He’s not any more deserving than any of these other players.
Is Tyrese Haliburton an All-Star?
Remember that trade last year where everyone harped on the Kings for another (allegedly) terrible decision? It’s possible Domantas Sabonis gets the All-Star nod while Haliburton doesn’t, though both are deserving. Haliburton passes the win shares test with flying colors, and it’s easy to see with his efficient scoring and playmaking that he’s the real deal. His savviness with the ball in his lands translates to the other side, but he struggles too much with beating defenders to the spot and loses his man too often to be considered a positive defender. He’s an All-Star.
The Last Word on the Eastern All-Star Guards
Final ranking of these players’ deservedness of making the All-Star game: Mitchell-Harden-Irving-Haliburton-Brown-Garland. Expect to see those first three and Brown on the roster. Haliburton may not see the love he deserves.