Rob’s Eastern Conference All-Stars
Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1
The first fans ballot returns for the 2022 NBA All-Stars were recently released and while there hasn’t been any players, coaches and media votes taken into account, fans across the world are getting a very clear picture of where the votes are being sent.
Below, I outline my Eastern Conference All-Star starters, as well as who I would place on the bench to fill out rosters, for next month’s showpiece event in Cleveland.
As always, you can let me know if you agree or disagree with my selections on twitter, @BMBTPodcast or via email email@example.com!
G – LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
G – DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
F – Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
F – Giannis Antetokoumnpo, Milwaukee Bucks
F – Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Let’s get the simple choices out of the way. Kevin Durant is a shoe in to start in the All-Star game and is thoroughly deserving. You only need to read my MVP Guest List article from January 1st to read about how superb he has been this season, and particularly of late. He’s been a stalwart when not injured throughout his career and there should be no questions asked about his inclusion.
The same applies for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has again lead the Bucks in multiple areas all while missing teammates through injury right from the first night of the season. The stats are there, the wins are there for Milwaukee and while he doesn’t shoot the three particularly well, his game suits the All-Star game due to his freakish length and athleticism, as well as ability to do things physically on the court no other player the league over can do.
Durant (left) and Giannis (right) are locks in anyone’s All-Star teams. Credit: Fadeaway World
Things get a little interesting when we start looking to fill the final ‘forward’ slot, but I’ve elected to go with 76ers big man Joel Embiid. I hesitated a little due to the fact he’s missed eleven games so far this season, but given the state of the play across the league with Covid, it’s hard to judge any player for missing time.
Philadelphia jumped out of the blocks to start the season, then sharply fell off as the schedule turned to November, but Embiid has them settled and on a six-game win streak and has been dominant during that time. The stats are there and anyone who watches Sixers games will know the load he is shouldering without Ben Simmons in addition to Covid absences keeping other teammates out.
Moving to the back-court, this is where I think some people will really begin to disagree with me, so let’s rip the band-aid off. LaMelo Ball deserves to start in this game in my opinion. Plenty of fans and analysts have Atlanta’s Trae Young in this slot, and I don’t begrudge those who do, but in that head-to-head battle, Ball wins for me. His stats aren’t that much worse than Trae’s, and Ball’s Hornets are currently the eight-seed, while Young’s Hawks are not even making the Play-In game.
I’ve given LaMelo Ball the nod over Trae Young for my starting PG slot. Credit: The SportsRush
Ball’s been stellar for the Hornets and while his continued development is not the only reason the team have played as well as they have, as the lead guard, he initiates so much of what they do. He scores, makes plays for others, hits the glass and while not known as a great defender due to his slender frame, his 1.7 steals per contest show he plays hard both ways. Beyond that, Ball has a game made for the All-Star stage – the flashy passes, the streaky shooting, the creative ball-handling. No shade to Trae, but Ball is the starting point for my East All-Stars.
Finally, the last remaining guard spot goes to Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan. There is plenty of conjecture about whether DeRozan is a guard or a forward given how the NBA officially lists him, but he’s a perimeter oriented ball-handler, so he’s clearly a guard in my mind. While Trae Young could again easily be in contention for this spot, DeRozan not starting given the season he’s been having would be criminal in my mind. He’s been a one-stop shop for a resurgent Bulls team and has the highlight plays to boot – including back-to-back game winners to see off and welcome in the New Year.
G – Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
G – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
G – James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
F – Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
F – Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
F – Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
UT – Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
First off, Trae Young instantly locks in his All-Star spot after missing out narrowly on the starting line-up. The young phenom is scoring at an insane rate and while his team isn’t winning games at the same rate as last year, he’s still done all he can on the court every night. For additional back-court depth, Zach LaVine gets the nod as his season in Chicago has been brilliant. His points, rebounds and assists sit at 26, 5 and 4 per game, all with splits of 50-40-86 – proving the guy fans once thought was simply a gunner on a bad team can help them wins games and do it efficiently.
For the final two reserve guards, I’ve given the nod to Brooklyn’s James Harden and Toronto’s Fred VanVleet. While Harden started the year slowly as the poster-boy for the NBA’s new ‘un-natural shooting motion’ rule, he’s built a great body of work since the middle of November and continues to be a key part of Brooklyn’s success as the team fluctuates between the first and second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto Raptor Fred VanVleet deserves to make his All-Star debut. Credit: Toronto Star
For VanVleet, Kyle Lowry’s departure for Miami has meant he’s taken on a larger role for the Raptors, and he’s excelled in it. This would be his first All-Star appearance if he were to make the actual game, and while it may puzzle the casual fan, VanVleet’s performances have been so great that he has the Raptors only 3.5 games out of home-court as of the time of writing. He’s not only the heart and soul of the team, but with Siakam missing a chunk of time to start the season, he’s been their best player in so many ways.
Moving to the front court, and the first player I’ve given the nod to is Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen. While the Cavaliers have been a surprise packet all season, Allen is one of the few members who has been consistently on court. He has missed seven games, but when compared to the slew of injuries the Cavs have been faced with to key guard personnel in Sexton and Rubio, Allen’s presence has been a mainstay. He’s now scoring more than in previous seasons and taking pride in his rebounding and defence, and is deserving of a spot on this roster.
The final two forwards that should make the team in my opinion are Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Miami’s Jimmy Butler. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely enamoured with either of these picks to finish up my Eastern Conference representatives, and there will be a selection of people who will chose one of Jaylen Brown, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Tyler Herro or Darius Garland to fill out the roster, but I’m sticking with Butler and Brown based mostly on Butler’s intangibles and the superior statistics of Tatum.
Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown was the toughest decision to make for my Eastern Conference All-Star representatives. Credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
There is no questioning what Butler brings to the Heat when he’s on the floor, and the Heat may not suffer much record-wise when he is absent, but the eye test says otherwise. When absent, the Heat are missing another perimeter player who can make a play and get his own shot in crunch time, as well as someone who defends hard and hits the glass. He also helps his teammates walk taller in addition to his statistical impact. While some people will argue Bam Adebayo or Tyler Herro are deserving of this spot, Bam has missed the last month following surgery on a thumb injury and Herro remains a little too inconsistent for my liking.
As for Tatum, again, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who put Brown in over him as the Celtics representative, but Tatum’s superior statistics give him the upper hand on Brown. I strongly considered Brown for this slot given his genuine two-way nature, however despite this reputation, his defensive numbers are not all that much better than Tatum’s, who edges out Brown on the offensive end. All in all, as I said, I’m not totally enamoured with either of the Butler or Tatum picks, but you can make up your own mind for who is deserving.
So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at BMBTPodcast@gmail.com!
Spotify – http://bitly.ws/gSJN Apple Podcasts – http://bitly.ws/gSJT
Find us on: Twitter: @BMBTPodcast – Link: http://bitly.ws/gSJX
Check out our website! https://bmbtpodcast.wordpress.com