You may not be aware, but yesterday was the start of this year's All Star voting on Twitter. The fact that the league is even trying to force this game to actually happen is a little strange considering they're postponing real regular season games left and right but that's a different story.
For years people have talked about how flawed the voting system is and how much of an impact fans have making things mostly a popularity contest, so I won't go there for this blog. What I care about is the fact that once I sat down and really started to look at things yesterday it became clear how much of a bloodbath this year is going to be when it comes to guys getting snubbed. It happens every year, but I have a feeling it's going to be even greater this season. I'm not sure everyone realizes how many players are currently having All Star quality seasons that most definitely will not make the actual All Star team, it's kind of wild.
This is especially true in the Eastern Conference, so that's what I want to focus on today.
Now this is just my opinion, you may have a different group, but these are guys I consider "locks" to make the All Star Roster
James Harden (??)
That's 9 guys, which means there are 3 spots to fill. You may disagree about someone like Kyrie, but you're fooling yourself. He's a lock. If you were to look at last year's roster, here are a group of guys that I think either won't make it or have their spot up for grabs
Of this list, I don' think it's crazy to suggest that Kemba/Siakam/Lowry/Butler won't make it. Guys like Kemba/Butler simply haven't played enough, and Siakam and Lowry just haven't been good enough. That leaves players like Simmons/Middleton on the bubble when we start to talk about the rest of the field of guys who will fill out those final 3 spots.
Here's what's crazy. There are at least 9 guys that are having All Star worthy seasons.
1. Bradley Beal - 35.4 points / 5.3 rebounds / 4.9 assists / 1.4 steals / 48/36% splits
When it comes to Bradley Beal, a player who was already snubbed last year despite putting up 30 a night, it brings up the biggest question when talking about All Star spots. Should someone who is on the worst team in the league get the nod? Well, Bradley Beal currently leads the entire NBA in scoring. When was the last time that person didn't make an All Star game? It's most certainly not his fault that the Wizards are a disaster. What more can he do?
I'm not penalizing Bam for the Heat's shitty record because of what they've had to deal with due to covid, but I feel like the Wizards record might be held against Beal who is having an All NBA caliber season.
2. Collin Sexton - 25.2 points / 2.7 rebounds / 4.2 assists / 1.2 steals / 52/47% splits
Without a doubt, one of the biggest pleasant surprises in the East has been the explosion of Collin Sexton. As a reminder, this is not a fluke. He's been doing this shit for his last 50+ games. Not only that, but the Cavs are sneaky good/competitive! They just swept the Nets superteam and look like a team that will be in the playoff hunt all year. It's not just the scoring, but look at the efficiency! He's arguably been better than some of the guards I have as locks, and given how many point guards there already are who knows if he even makes it.
3. Jaylen Brown - 27.7 points / 5.6 rebounds / 3.5 assists / 1.5 steals / 54/40% splits
I know, some will call me a "homer" for having Jaylen in this group because they don't want to accept the fact that he too is currently having an All NBA caliber season. He's 5th in the league in scoring with the efficiency to match. He's exploded to start this season and like Beal was another guy who many thought was snubbed last season. This may be the year that he breaks through, but at this point who the fuck knows.
4. Julius Randle - 22.5 points / 11.3 rebounds / 6.0 assists / 0.7 steals / 46/35% splits
So here's the thing. As someone who thinks Bam is a lock, I can't help but tell the truth and say that Julius Randle is having a better season. These are Bam caliber numbers for a Knicks team that is another pleasant surprise this season. Last time I checked they were in the playoffs and there are not a ton of guys putting up 22/11/6 that don't make the All Star roster. You could argue he's been better than Sabonis as well, but for whatever reason I feel like the perception around Randle isn't the same as those other guys, which is weird and unfortunate because it has all the makings of an outrageous All Star snub.
5. Malcolm Brogdon - 22.8 points / 4.3 rebounds / 7.1 assists / 1.4 steals / 46/41% splits
I'm convinced Malcolm Brogdon is the best guard nobody ever talks about. Especially in the East that is loaded with high end point guard talent. But the proof is in the pudding. The Pacers are winning and Brogdon has been NAILS all season long. I still can't believe the Bucks chose not to pay this guy. You idiots! There's also a strong chance every single stoolie reading these words right now that aren't Pacers fans had no idea Brogdon was even doing this well. There's never any publicity with Brogdon but then when you play the Pacers you see him destroy your team without breaking a sweat. He's another guy that is going to fall victim to the popularity/depth at the position in the conference, but he's absolutely been an All Star caliber player.
6. Zach LaVine - 27.0 points / 5.2 rebounds / 5.3 assists / 1.3 steals / 50/39% splits
LaVine could very well be another guy who gets penalized because of his team's record. As if guys that put up 27/5/5 on 50% shooting grow on trees or something. That's pretty fucking rare. But considering he plays no defense, I'm sure people will use that against him as well.
Getting snubbed isn't really new for LaVine, so to me this feels like a Bradley Beal 2020 situation.
7. Jerami Grant - 23.8 points / 6.2 rebounds / 2.9 assists / 0.9 steals / 44/40% splits
I think most can agree, Jerami Grant has no shot to crack this roster, but holy shit has he been incredible since he came to the Pistons from an individual production standpoint. Nobody saw this shit coming because he was not this kind of player in Denver. He bet on himself and it currently is working out. This is more just me acknowledging that Jerami Grant is having a great season, but the Pistons stink so that's a wrap.
8. Tobias Harris - 20.1 points / 6.7 rebounds / 2.8 assists / 0.9 steals / 52/46% splits
If the Sixers stay at the top of the conference by the break, they are going to have at least two All Stars, so for me it comes down to Simmons vs Harris and there is no denying that Harris has been having the better season. That efficiency is no joke. He looks great in Doc's system. He's coming up clutch for them on a regular basis.
The question then becomes, is he having a better season than some of the other guys who are on the bubble? I'm fascinated to see how things play out with the Sixers players because you won't see just Embiid on the roster if they are a top seed, but that means someone who might be more deserving from a production standpoint could get snubbed.
9. Gordon Hayward - 23.6 points / 5.2 rebounds / 3.6 assists / 1.2 steals / 51/43% splits
Like Grant, I think Hayward has close to not shot, but I have him here because I want to acknowledge that he's all the way back. He's looking better than he did when he actually made the All Star game with Utah and better than he ever did as a Celtic. It's been awesome to see. The Hornets are actually a little feisty this season that Hayward's return to form has a lot to do with that.
Considering Middleton is putting up 22/6.5/5.8 on 52/44% shooting, I want to say he's in. Especially since the Bucks are starting to figure things out. That means there really could only be 2 spots available from that entire list. My bias wants to say Jaylen has locked up one of em, but again who the hell knows.
It certainly didn't help some of these guys that Harden/Durant made their way East, but it just goes to show you how fucking loaded the Eastern Conference is. The biggest difference is teams that maybe stunk last year are actually pretty good this year and are being carried by their young talent who are all taking a leap.
So what would be your 12? No matter how you slice it up you're going to have to end up snubbing some pretty great seasons. I can't remember a year where one conference had this many legit candidates. It's going to be fascinating to see how it plays out.