Basketball, Columnists, Sports

The Fast Break: My 2022 All-Star ballot

It’s been an adventurous first half of the NBA season, to say the least. From several buzzer-beaters to the respective dramas with Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, the league has had no shortage of fireworks go off. 

But as the season goes on and the weather gets cooler, a hefty discussion always arises — who will make the All-Star team? While there are some yearly locks, like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, this year has several names in the discussion who either haven’t made a team in a while or have yet to be named to a team in their career. Without wasting any more of my precious word count, let’s dive right in.

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

Eastern Conference

I’m going to skip the talk on a few guys that really don’t need an explanation. So to start, players who are 100% locks for this year in the East are Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Jimmy Butler and Trae Young. 

And before you go spewing, “Ethan, that’s six players, you can only start five!” I don’t care who starts, and the fact of the matter is, no one should care. When people read a player’s resumé for the Hall of Fame they don’t say, “Wow, so and so made the All-Star game 10 times, but he only started five of them — so I don’t know.” They just say, “He’s a 10-time All-Star.” 

Anyways, after those six guys, it gets really interesting. DeMar DeRozan is having an amazing season in Chicago and deserves to be in there along with his teammate Zach LaVine. And despite a streaky season, Jayson Tatum has still been good enough for a nod. 

So what to do with the final three spots? I think one spot has to go to LaMelo Ball, who has been a constant highlight reel all season long and has led the Hornets into the playoff race. Which reminds me, if Cleveland is the five-seed they must have an All-Star, right? Jarrett Allen is garnering a lot of fan votes, but his stats don’t jump off the page and make me lean towards Darius Garland, who has really stepped up after his teammate Collin Sexton went down with an injury. This brings us to our final player, who technically has to be in the front-court with the voting rules. 

So, maybe I do go with Jarret Allen — no, I’m sorry. Give me Pascal Siakam from Toronto instead, who has really stepped up this season and has put up a double-double nearly every night. An honorable mention to Bam Adebayo from Miami, who would’ve probably gotten the edge had he not missed time with injury.

Western Conference

As with the East, some locks in the West are LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokić and Luka Dončić. Unlike the East though, the West has fewer locks and more depth, making it a much more difficult ballot to fill out. 

On top of that, we have star players like Anthony Davis and Paul George who have missed so much time with injury that it’s impossible to vote for them. George’s stats and reputable track record are good enough to get a nod, but I’m going to leave him off given that he probably won’t even be healthy for the mid-February classic. 

So now with four of the 12 spots locked up, who else is getting in? An easy one is Ja Morant, who deserves MVP consideration with how well he’s playing this season, but probably won’t get it while playing in Memphis. Next, we have a pair of teammates in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, who earn their place with their defensive and offensive skills respectively. 

The Warriors, back near the top of the league, deserve some more love as well. So, let’s give Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins All-Star nods, as both players have been instrumental to the team’s early-season success. We also can’t forget about the Suns, who still only have nine losses thanks to excellent play by Devin Booker. 

That was a lot of names, so let’s do a quick headcount. We have five guards and five forwards, so we only have… two spots left? This is tough, but the last forward has to be Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been tremendous this season en route to a potential playoff spot for Minnesota. 

This last spot might be a bit controversial, since Chris Paul and Anthony Edwards both have solid cases, but I have to give the nod to Dejounte Murray from San Antonio. One, because he is absolutely carrying my fantasy team right now, and two, because he is also averaging a near triple-double for a team that lost their best player to free agency this past season. I’m not sure why he doesn’t rank in the top 10 in fan voting, but he definitely deserves some love for the season he’s having.

Final Rosters:

East: Darius Garland, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, LaMelo Ball, Pascal Siakam, Trae Young, Zach LaVine.

West: Andrew Wiggins, Dejounte Murray, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Draymond Green, Ja Morant, Karl-Anthony Towns, LeBron James, Luka Dončić, Nikola Jokić, Rudy Gobert, Stephen Curry.

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