WSH's 2018 NBA All-Star Selections
Index of terms
ppg: points per game
rpg: rebounds per game
apg: assists per game
fg%/3fg%/ft%: overall field-goal percentage/three-point field-goal percentage/free-throw percentage
PER: player efficiency rating (an admittedly imperfect all-in-one rating of a player's per-minute productivity; players with a 15 PER are league-average, players hovering in the mid-20s are having elite-level seasons, and players approaching 30 are having MVP-caliber campaigns)
I am in basketball nirvana right now.
Never before have I enjoyed watching professional basketball this much. Every single game is somehow competitive. Even the “bad” teams are only marginally worse than the mediocre ones. The NBA isn’t the NFL quite yet as far as parity goes, but I’d probably watch a Brooklyn Nets-Orlando Magic game while doing homework or something. (For the uninformed, those are two of the “bad” teams this season. Which is to say: they’re very okay. Okay’s fine.)
Having watched an inordinate amount of hoop this year (shoutout to my Warriors-exclusive League Pass subscription), I think I’m around 77% qualified to tick off who I believe should make this year’s All-Star team. Plus, I needed to get my selections on the website before the official choices for the game's starters come out in like five minutes. Drumroll, please...
(FYI: I'm doing my All-Stars the antiquated way, with players assigned to their respective conferences; if you hadn't heard, this year's game will feature the top-two vote-earners as the game's captains, and they'll have the power to select their teams similar to playground pick-up game. Should be interesting.)
Western Conference All-Star starters
Stephen Curry — Guard, Golden State Warriors
27.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.5 apg, 49.3 fg%/41.4 3fg%/91.7 ft%, 29.3 PER
I won’t write another 1,500 words on Steph, I promise.
I guess I should defend why I’m choosing him over Russell Westbrook to start, aside from my personal biases. Yes, Steph’s missed a good amount of games because of injury. Yes, Russ is this close to averaging a triple-double, again. Yes, Russ and the Thunder beat Steph and the Dubs by like 95 points in their only matchup so far.
I guess, in a vacuum, those are all compelling arguments. However, over the aggregate, there’s no convincing me Russell’s having a better year than Steph. The Dubs’ games I have missed so far this season were during Steph’s respite, and that's simply because I didn't find them very fun; that team is very mortal without the threat of Steph shooting from wherever. He is Golden State’s system. The best team in the league is rather boring to watch without him. If I’m putting him on the All-Star team at all, he’s starting.
James Harden — Guard, Houston Rockets
32.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 9.1 apg, 45.1 fg%/39.0 3fg%/86.7 ft%, 30.4 PER
I swear I hate watching James Harden play basketball, until I actually watch him play basketball. He’s averaging 32 a night! And at least half of that 32 involves him making someone look silly! That mohawk is still really ugly, but that should not diminish the fact he’s averaging 32 a night!
(He’s going to give the Dubs 50 on like 12-for-18 shooting next time they play, and I’m going to hate him all over again.)
Jimmy Butler — Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
21.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.1 apg, 47.5 fg%/35.6 3fg%/87.5 ft%, 23.8 PER
Definitely my toughest pick for a West starter — apologies to DeMarcus Cousins and LaMarcus Aldridge — but I’m rewarding a guy who I didn’t really believe in for going to the tougher conference and catapulting his team into semi-serious contention. I’d argued with friends about whether I wanted him or DeMar DeRozan least (more on him in a bit), but I can admit when I’m wrong. Jimmy’s legit. He definitely deserves to start.
Kevin Durant — Forward, Golden State Warriors
26.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 5.4 apg, 51.1 fg%/40.4 3fg%/88.9 ft%, 25.4 PER
I have a “Kevin Durant is boring” hot take, but I sound absurd trying to argue that 26 a night with those shooting splits is boring. He’s just clinically efficient, I suppose.
(I wish he’d never left the Thunder. I’m conflicted. Sam Presti needs to fix this.)
Anthony Davis — Forward, New Orleans Pelicans
26.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 55.7 fg%/34.7 3fg%/81.8 ft%, 28.8 PER
Had to choose between him and teammate DeMarcus Cousins, and I’m rolling with the higher PER and greater consistency on the defensive end. And he just had near two near 50-20s this week. 50 points and 20 rebounds. Yeah.
Eastern Conference All-Star starters
Kyrie Irving — Guard, Boston Celtics
24.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 47.3 fg%/39.0 3fg%/88.4 ft%, 23.6 PER
I would first like to commend Kyrie for demanding the trade to Boston. I’d also like to applaud homie for leading his team to the best record in the conference so far. I don’t particularly enjoy watching Boston, but Kyrie’s occasional drum solos make the experience worth it every time. Considering his nightly impact, his numbers read as sort-of basic to me. Kyrie can walk on the court and get 24 and 5. I wonder if he’s saving something for later.
DeMar DeRozan — Guard, Toronto Raptors
25.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.0 apg, 48.0 fg%/35.0 3fg%/82.5 ft%, 23.4 PER
True story: I was watching some game on NBATV a few weeks ago, and noticed Demar had scored 45 against Philadelphia earlier in the night. Took 9 three-pointers and made 6 of them.
My eyes naturally perked up. If Demar DeRozan can take 9 3’s a game and make around 40% of them, Toronto might be competitive in the playoffs. Finally.
DeMar’s grown on me, too. Shoutout Lil Romeo and Master P for saving professional basketball in Canada.
LeBron James — Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
27.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 8.8 apg, 55.7 fg%/37.6 3fg%/77.0 ft%, 29.7 PER
I’m kidding, slightly. I will be brief, though. I want Bron to win MVP this year. It’ll be a legacy trophy, sure. But he’s sort-of old now, and he’s not slowing down. Give big homie his roses while he can still smell them.
Giannis Antetokounmpo — Forward, Milwaukee Bucks
28.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4.6 apg, 54.6 fg%/27.9 3fg%/76.6 ft%, 29.5 PER
Baby Giannis is scoring 30 a night off pure athleticism. He’s going to learn how to shoot one day. God bless us all.
Joel Embiid — Center, Philadelphia 76ers
23.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 48.6 fg%/28.9 3fg%/79.8 ft%, 23.1 PER
I guess you could consider Al Horford or Kevin Love — or maybe even Andre Drummond — in this spot, but I’m rewarding The Process, playing restrictions be damned. He’s already matched the total amount of games he played all last season, and Philly’s in good shape to make the playoffs just a couple years removed from being completely doomed. He’s too elite not to start man. Sorry.
Eastern Conference All-Star reserves
Victor Oladipo — Guard, Indiana Pacers
- 24.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, 48.9 fg%/41.6 3fg%/78.9 ft%, 24.3 PER
Kyle Lowry — Guard, Toronto Raptors
- 16.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 6.9 apg, 41.6 fg%/38.9 3fg%/88.0 ft%, 18.8 PER
Bradley Beal — Guard, Washington Wizards
- 23.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 46.0 fg%/36.3 3fg%/79.2 ft%, 19.6 PER
Kristaps Porzingis — Forward, New York Knicks
- 23.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 43.4 fg%/37.9 3fg%/81.5 ft%, 20.6 PER
Kevin Love — Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
- 19.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 46.3 fg%/41.0 3fg%/88.3 ft%, 23.8 PER
Al Horford — Center, Boston Celtics
- 13.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 5.3 apg, 52.0 fg%/43.4 3fg%/72.3 ft%, 19.0 PER
Andre Drummond — Center, Detroit Pistons
- 14.5 ppg, 15.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 54.3 fg%/0.0 3fg%/62.5 ft%, 23.5 PER
Western Conference All-Star reserves
Russell Westbrook — Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
- 24.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 9.9 apg, 43.6 fg%/31.0 3fg%/70.6 ft%, 24.8 PER
Klay Thompson — Guard, Golden State Warriors
- 20.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 48.9 fg%/45.4 3fg%/88.1 ft%, 17.2 PER
Damian Lillard — Guard, Portland Trail Blazers
- 25.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.5 apg, 42.9 fg%/35.1 3fg%/91.6 ft%, 22.8 PER
Draymond Green — Forward, Golden State Warriors
- 11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.6 apg, 45.4 fg%/30.5 3fg%/77.2 ft%, 17.1 PER
LaMarcus Aldridge — Forward, San Antonio Spurs
- 22.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 49.7 fg%/34.3 3fg%/83.9 ft%, 24.1 PER
Karl-Anthony Towns — Center, Minnesota Timberwolves
- 20.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 53.8 fg%/41.9 3fg%/83.8 ft%, 23.4 PER
DeMarcus Cousins — Center, New Orleans Pelicans
- 25.3 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 5.1 apg, 46.9 fg%/35.2 3fg%/74.7 ft%, 22.8 PER