Image Courtesy of Cleveland.com
By Jonathan Norman
The teams for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game are now set. Team Lebron James will face off against Team Kevin Durant on Sunday, February 20, but once again many fans are not happy with the selections. So, it is time to discuss which players should have made the All Star Game and which reserves should have been named starters.
The most controversial decision from the All-Star Game selections is Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins as a starter. Wiggins deserves to be an All-Star this season since he averages 18 points per game on a 48.6% shooting percentage on the second best team in the NBA, but he probably should have been named as a reserve. Most fans have said that Phoenix Suns point guard Devin Booker should have been named to the starters over Wiggins, but this would not be possible. The All-Star Game roster requires the starting lineup to feature two backcourt players and three frontcourt players. Booker is listed as a point guard and is in the western conference, so to be named to the starting lineup, he would have had to take the place of either Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry or Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant. These two guards are widely considered to be deserving of their selection as starters, so it makes it difficult for fans to choose which player Booker should replace.
The absence of Booker from the starting lineup while putting up 25 points per game on the best team in the NBA has sparked a debate on if the NBA All-Star Game should abolish the system of two backcourt players and three front court players. Since the NBA is slowly developing into a positionless league, the 10 best players could just be selected as starters regardless of positions. The NBA has made significant changes to the All Star Game format in recent years, so this alteration could potentially happen in the future.
Aside from Wiggins’ selection and Booker’s snub, the only other question that remains about the All Star Game starters is whether players on teams with losing records should receive a starting position. Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been selected as a starter for having an excellent season in which he averages 27 points per game on 45.7% shooting. However, the Hawks have a record of 25-26 and are the 10th seed in the East. Even All-Star Team Captain Lebron James’ selection could be questioned since the Los Angeles Lakers are 25 and 26 this season. Most fans would say that James most certainly deserves to be a starter, but there is an interesting debate as to whether these players deserve starting positions over players, such as Devin Booker who are putting up great numbers while also leading their team to a winning record.
As for the reserves, some of the best players selected were Phoenix Suns Guard Chris Paul, Dallas Mavericks Guard Luka Doncic, Miami Heat Forward Jimmy Butler, and Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert. The most controversial pick among the reserves was Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, since many believe that his teammate Jrue Holiday deserved the All-Star selection. Middleton averages 19.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game, while Holiday averages 17.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. Holiday has shown the ability to dominate this season with multiple 30 point games so it is a close debate between the two. However, from statistics alone it seems that Middelton deserved the selection over Holiday.
Outside of the Milwaukee Bucks, the biggest snubs from the All-Star Game were San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and Charlotte Hornets guard Lamelo Ball. Murray is having the best season of his six-year career so far with 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 9.1 assists, and two steals per game. This season, he has kept the Spurs afloat and had explosive games, such as putting up 29 points and 12 assists in a 131 to 122 win against the Chicago Bulls. Murray has played like an All-Star this season and deserved to be named to the initial team. As for Lamelo Ball, he is one of two players in the NBA season to average 19 points, seven assists and seven rebounds on better than 35-percent 3-point shooting. Ball has kept the Hornets in playoff contention this season as they are currently the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Luckily, Murray and Ball will still get to showcase their talents at the All-Star Game as replacements for Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
The NBA All-Star Game is in Cleveland, Ohio on February 20, so tune in to watch some of the league’s best players go head to head.