The NBA All-Star starters were announced Thursday night on TNT. As with any balloting process, there were a couple of surprising names that flashed on the screen. Naturally, that means there were also a few snubs as well. Let’s see how the teams are looking so far.
NBA All-Star Starters Reaction: How Is Zion Williamson Starting?
The Eastern Conference Starters
The East’s frontcourt is riddled with controversy. However, with four qualified candidates and only three starting spots, there was going to be a brouhaha, no matter who was chosen to be a starter. Giannis Antetokounmpo is in as the East’s captain, which locks him into a starting role. Jayson Tatum of the NBA-leading Boston Celtics joins him as a clear-cut starter. The final Eastern Conference starter is another Brooklyn Net: Kevin Durant. While all three are having monster seasons, are household names across the NBA, and are worthy of the starting positions they have earned, there is one big name left off the list, which will be covered later.
The backcourt starting duo is relatively controversy-free; Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell get the starting nods. Irving has been cooking since Durant’s injury and has started numerous All-Star games in recent years. Mitchell was a lock to be an All-Star the moment he set foot in Cleveland, but his 71-point explosion confirmed that he should start this season. As he continues to thrive in his new home, he will head back to Utah in February as an All-Star starter, a feat he never accomplished while playing for the Jazz.
The Western Conference Starters
In his 19th consecutive All-Star starting nod, LeBron James is the captain of the West All-Stars. As he is about to break the all-time scoring record, there is little left to be said about James’ career. He is simply unbelievable and deserves this honor every season. Joining the King in the frontcourt, back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is an easy choice to be a starter. With Jokic in the running for a third straight MVP, he is an obvious choice. The final frontcourt starter is a completely controversial curveball: Zion Williamson. Having missed 20 of his team’s 49 games this season, Williamson is an unlikely pick to represent the West as a starter. Although he is putting up All-Star stats when healthy, he has not been healthy for large chunks of the season.
The backcourt is hardly worthy of discussion. It’s Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic. Can one truly argue with those two starting? Yes, Ja Morant and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be in the conversation, but with a combination of fan votes and player votes deciding starters, it is hard to beat Curry and Doncic’s influence on the league.
Potential All-Star Starter Snubs
From a certain point of view, Joel Embiid is an All-Star starter snub. The biggest reason Embiid is not a starter is likely due to his games played. He has appeared in fewer games than his three starting counterparts. Games played are always a big deal when it comes to who makes the All-Star team, and this is just not Embiid’s year.
Embiid’s exclusion from the East starters due to missed games would make sense in a normal world, but this a world in which Williamson is starting for the West. How is Domantas Sabonis not a West frontcourt starter? His Sacramento Kings are currently third in the West (ahead of Williamson’s Pelicans), and he has appeared in 45 of his team’s 47 games this season. He is even playing through a broken thumb! How is he not a starter this year? Probably because Williamson is one of the flashiest players in the league, and the All-Star game is a glorified three-point contest with a dunk contest sprinkled on top. That is beside the point. Despite his non-flashy nature, Sabonis should be a starter this season.
The Last Word on the NBA All-Star Starters
At the end of the day, it is not worth getting too worked up over who starts and who does not. Embiid, Morant, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Sabonis will all make the All-Star team. At the end of the day, the NBA needs its biggest and brightest stars headlining the game. Thus, the fan vote is important. Even if the fans vote for the same players every year, there is a reason they want to see these players: they want to be entertained by familiar faces.