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NBA All-Star Game reserves preview

(feature image from sportslogo.net)

 

It’s that time of the year ladies and gentlemen. The All-Star game is just a few weeks away and now it is time to find out who will be accompanying the starters on the floor in Chicago. Just a refresher, here are the starters that were announced:

East

Giannis Antetokounmpo (captain), Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Trae Young and Kemba Walker

West

LeBron James (captain), Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Luka Doncic

As you can see, former Kentucky Wildcat and National Champion Anthony Davis will be on the floor in the beginning of the game in a few weeks.

Today, the reserves will be officially announced during the TNT show tonight at 7 P.M. So, Chandler and I decided to go down the list and see who we thought deserved the nod to represent the NBA in Chicago.  If you’re not familiar with the All-Star games now, the captains will pick their teams in the pool of names from the starters and reserves.

Here is last year’s draft with the same captains for this year, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James.


So, to get started, Chandler and I have broken down the different criteria’s to fill an all-star game roster. Those consist of: 2 guards, 3 forwards and two wild-card players.

As you may know, Kentucky already has one player in the All-Star Game, so here are the picks Chandler and I have come up with that we think who should join Davis to represent the University of Kentucky

Kentucky All-Star hopefuls

Hayden’s Picks

Devin Booker – Guard, Phoenix Suns

STATS: 27.1 PPG 4.1 RPG 6.4 APG

First player on my list of people I expect to see in the All-Star Game for the West is Devin Booker. Booker has proven once again as one of the great shot creators the league has to offer. On thing people think he might not be on the list tonight is the record his team has this far in the season. My argument, if Trae Young is a starter then Devin should definitely be in.

Bam Adebayo – Center, Miami Heat

STATS: 16 PPG 10.4 RPG 4.7 APG 1.2 SPG 1.1 BPG

Wow, I never thought Bam this early would see success like this. Overall, the Miami Heat have been the team that has shocked everyone around the league. What makes this team unique is the young talent they rely on to play with Jimmy Butler. We will get to this later, but Butler should’ve been a starter. Since he is listed as a forward, he was placed in a crowded room with other well-deserved starters. For the Heat, Bam is the facilitator and if Butler isn’t on the floor, the offense is rolling through Bam. Adebayo is up to 3 triple-doodles including one a couple of nights ago with an impressive stat line of 35 pts 10 rebs 10 asts. Less than a month ago I got to go see the Heat and let me tell you, the Bam I knew before is not the same one on the court in Miami. This is the reason why he deserves a spot tonight and needs to be considered for the Most Improved Player award at the end of the year.

Honorable Mentions

Karl Anthony-Towns – Center, Minnesota Timberwolves

STATS: 26.9 PPG 10.7 RPG 4.2 APG 1.2 BPG

Karl Anthony-Towns does have All-Star experience and knows his way around the court. Even with the injuries he has had so far this season, Town’s numbers by themself are really impressive in a league where centers don’t produce a lot of stats.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder

STATS: 19.5 PPG 6.1 RPG 3.2 APG 1.2 SPG

As the NBA was in a shift going into this year with players moving to different teams, SGA was one of them. By being a part of the blockbuster trade that landed Paul George to LA, the Clippers gave up Alexander to the OKC Thunder. Like Bam’s Heat, the Thunder with the three-headed guard monster in Chris Paul, SGA and Dennis Schroeder, the Thunder have shocked a lot people throughout the first half of the season. SGA is a big part of what that team has done. We all saw flashes of what he could be last year in the first round in the playoffs against the Warriors but Alexander has kept the momentum into this year for his new team. Even with Paul being the main ball handler in OKC, SGA has shown that he is meant to be in this league and can be considered for a spot here in the next few seasons.

Jamal Murray – Guard, Denver Nuggets

STATS: 17.6 PPG 4.1 RPG 4.6 APG 1.4 SPG

As the Nuggets are finally coming into form like everyone thought they would be. Murray has become a staple into the offense for Denver who is now a three seed for the Playoffs if the season ended today. For many players in the NBA, the injury bug has hindered Murray’s opportunities this season and the reason why I have him as a honorable mention. Even though his injuries have kept his production down, I couldn’t name players for the All-Star game and not mention Murray.

Chandler’s Picks

Bam Adebayo – F, Miami Heat

(16.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 4.7 APG)

With three triple-doubles on the season, Bam Adebayo has been a premiere forward in the NBA. With his great athleticism and quickness, he is able to guard every position on the court, and is able to do everything for Miami. 

Devin Booker – G, Phoenix Suns

(27.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 6.4 APG)

The leader in points per game for Phoenix, Booker is an elite scorer on a team that does not get much publicity. Booker has not made the All-Star Game before, and for as consistent as he is as a player when healthy, it is about time he makes it.

Karl Anthony-Towns Jr. – C, Minnesota Timberwolves

(26.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 4.2 RPG)

When Towns has been healthy, he again has been a monster this season as a modern NBA center. He is averaging a double-double and has 19 total on the season, as the former UK big man is continually a stud.

Honorable Mentions:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – G, Oklahoma City Thunder

(19.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.2 APG)

Gilgeous-Alexander is a rising stud on the NBA’s most surprising team, leading them in points per game and overall becoming a really good NBA guard. I wanted to put him in, but I do not think he is quite at the level of the qualified reserves yet.


NBA All-Star 2020 reserve predictions

So, if you are reading this portion, you are probably more of an NBA fan that watches the games more for everyone and not just Kentucky alums. So, here are Chandler and I’s picks on who we think the TNT announcers will say tonight.

East

Ben Simmons- Guard, Philadelphia 76ers

(16.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 8.4 APG)

Philadelphia having members of their team in a midst of trade rumors and injuries have had one constant. That would be Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Simmons’ role these past months have been the reason they won games. This is a no brainer and he really had an argument to be a starter over Trae Young.

Bradley Beal – Guard, Washington Wizards

(28.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.3 APG)

Like some all-stars, Beal’s Wizards are not at the level he is. However, the stat line he is putting up consistenly is good enough to get him in Chicago.

Jayson Tatum – Forward, Boston Celtics

(21.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.9 APG)

The second Celtic in the All-Star Game for the East. Tatum struggled early to get used to the feel for his third new point guard in three years. As Kemba has gotten comfortable in Boston, so has Tatum in his role in the offense. The shot-creator forward from Duke has really improved his three-point shot and has made Boston a real threat in the raft going into the second half of the season.

Jimmy Butler- F, Miami Heat

STATS: 20.2 PPG 6.9 RPG 6.4 APG 1.8 SPG

Probably the most controversial player for the All-Star game due to him being named a forward under the voting criteria. If you have watched any Heat basketball, Butler is one of the point-forwards in the league. Like LeBron James and Ben Simmons, Butler is a ball-dominant forward with guard vision. It isn’t a fluke in the situation Miami is in. After his season last year ended with the Kawhi rim-bounce score, he has been on a mission. With a young core of players in Miami, the old-veteran Butler has kept the train going in Miami.

Khris Middleton – F, Milwaukee Bucks

STATS: 20.2 PPG 5.9 RPG 3.9 APG

In case you didn’t see his performance two nights ago, with Antentokounmpo out, Middleton had an all-career night by scoring 51 points. That shows what type of player he is for his team. The second scorer behind Giannis has really shown out to be the player the Bucks needed after letting go Malcom Brogdon. I would not be shocked if they called his name here shortly to be a reserve.

Domantas Sabonis – F, Indiana Pacers

STATS: 18 PPG 12.8 RPG 4.6 APG

The ex-Thunder has really shown out this year for a team that needed an interior scorer. With Victor Oladipo out for almost the entire first half of the season, (made his debut last night) Sabonis has been the man in Indiana. Sometimes, it feels like the ball is stuck to his hands when he gets rebounds. He’s a consistent double-double guy with a lot of promise going forward and deserves that last spot for the East.

Bam Adebayo – F, Miami Heat

If you want to see my reasoning, check above in the Kentucky section.

 

West

Damian Lillard – Guard, Portland Trailblazers

STATS: 29 PPG 4.3 RPG 7.8 APG

Despite all the major injuries to himself and his team, Lillard has played like an MVP this past month. He could’ve made a push to be a starter if it wasn’t for James Harden and Luka Doncic having all-NBA seasons. The past 4 games he has had 35+ points including a 61 point night in an overtime win over the Warriors. Again, one of those no-brainers that really had starter potential in a crowded position in the West.

Russell Westbrook – Guard,  Houston Rockets

STATS: 26.3 PPG 8.1 RPG 7.4 APG 1.6 SPG

An All-Star staple for the Western Conference has really turned it on for his new team lately after a  very slow start. This year, Westbrook has really shown a different side of his game by giving up the majority of the ball  handling to James Harden. Mr. Triple Double’s efficiency numbers have gone up the past weeks and has been playing really smart basketball for the Rockets.

Nikola Jokic – Forward, Denver Nuggets

STATS: 19.8 PPG 10.1 RPG 6.5 APG 1 SPG

The forward from Serbia has not missed a beat from an all-NBA season last year. With a team full of potential trade contracts, Jokic has turned it to become the player they need to utilize all the pieces the Nuggets have. Really a no-brainer for the All-Star game for the second season in a row.

Brandon Ingram – Forward, New Orleans Pelicans

STATS: 25 PPG 6.3 RPG 4.3 APG

Ingram of course was a part of the big trade to get Anthony Davis to the LA Lakers and the move couldn’t have been better for Ingram. By being in New Orleans, he has been the number one scorer for a team that desperately needed a lengthy small forward. His numbers have been the best in his young NBA career and has been the big part to New Orlean’s comeback this past month.

Rudy Gobert – Forward, Utah Jazz

STATS: 15.7 PPG 14.6 RPG 1.6 APG 2 BPG

The DPOY of the NBA has not stopped his big run this past season with a team that will be a huge threat come playoff time. Gobert is the Jazz Anthony Davis and proves it every night on the floor. The team is a different monster with him on the floor in a very good way.

Donavan Mitchell – Guard, Utah Jazz

STATS: 25.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.2 APG

The former Louisville guard and Slam Dunk champion Mitchell has really come to his own. This team is officially centered around his game and performances he brings night in and night out. Now, he deserves to be treated like one by acquiring his first NBA All-Star Game appearance.

Devin Booker – Guard, Phoenix Suns

If you want to see my reasoning, check above in the Kentucky section

Chandler’s Picks

East

Jimmy Butler – F, Miami Heat

(20.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.4 APG)

The biggest all-star starting snub of the season, Butler has put aside all the antics and been the leader of a really good Miami team. The Heat forward leads the team in points per game, assists per game, and steals per game (1.8), and is really the least controversial of the players that could potentially be on the reserve list for this game.

Domantas Sabonis – F, Indiana Pacers

(18.0 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 4.6 APG)

Sabonis also has been one of the most improved players in the NBA, and is now one of the elite forwards in the league. The Pacers forward is third in the league in double-doubles (37), and has done enough to be an all-star this season to me.

Jayson Tatum – F, Boston Celtics

(21.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.9 APG)

Tatum is able to do a lot on the floor, including shooting from anywhere with his smooth shot. The Boston forward has also proven to be a pretty steady defender on one of the best defenses in the NBA.

Ben Simmons – G, Philadelphia 76ers

(16.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 8.4 APG)

Simmons gets a lot of slack for not shooting outside the paint much, but is still an excellent player that is incredibly efficient on the court. Simmons leads the league is steals per game (2.2) and is fifth in assists per game, giving him the nod to be in the game to me.

Bradley Beal – G, Washington Wizards

(28.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.3 APG)

Beal has been efficient this season for the Wizards, leading the team in points per game and assists per game, and I really think this might be his best season yet in the absence of John Wall.

Andre Drummond – C, Detroit Pistons

(17.2 PPG, 15.6 RPG, 2.8 APG)

Drummond has again been a machine for the Pistons this season. He leads the league in rebounds per game, tied for the lead in double-doubles (38), and is second in steals per game (2.1). He is consistently productive, and I feel is deserving of another all-star selection.

West

Brandon Ingram – F, New Orleans Pelicans

(25.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG)

Ingram has had a breakout season as the leading scorer for the Pelicans, putting up a lot of the production with Zion Williamson in and out. Ingram is on the border-line, but I give him the nod because of how much he has improved.

Damian Lillard – G, Portland Trail-Blazers.

(29.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.8 APG)

There is an argument to me that Lillard is the best point guard in the NBA. The Blazers have not been as good this season, mostly because of injury, but Damian Lillard is not disappointing. He has the highest scoring game this season (61 points vs Golden State) and literally can hit a shot from anywhere.

Russell Westbrook – G, Houston Rockets

(26.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 7.4 APG)

Westbrook has had a nice first season with the Rockets, once again posting good numbers. He leads the team in assists per game and steals per game (1.6), and is deserving of another all-star selection.

Nikola Jokic – C, Denver Nuggets

(19.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 6.5 APG)

Despite a slow start to the season, Jokic leads the team in points, assists, and rebounds per game. He is also third in the NBA in triple-doubles (9), and is still in the conversation for best center in the league.

Donovan Mitchell – G, Utah Jazz

(25.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.2 APG)

The Utah Jazz are still not getting as much publicity despite having a 32-15 record so far, but Mitchell has had another great season. He leads the team in points per game and steals per game (1.8), and deserves a spot in the all-star game to me.


Well, there you have it! We are thirty minutes away from finding out the official roster of reserves for the All-Star game. It seems like the season started last week, crazy how time flies! We will keep updating you on anything NBA Cats!

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