In a little over two months from today, the stars of the NBA will meet in New Orleans, Louisiana for the NBA All-Star weekend. In a star-driven league, it’s the most exciting weekend in sports. One night that weekend is the playing of the NBA All-Star game. The best players in their respective conference will battle for conference superiority. Who deserves to make each team? Take a look below.
G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
(Photo: John Bazemore, AP)
John Wall leads the Eastern Conference with 9.5 assists per game. That trails James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul for most in the league. Tim Frazier is fifth with almost two assists less per game. Wall is also averaging a career highs in points, steals, free-throw and field-goal percentage. Isaiah Thomas is the only point guard averaging more points than Wall in the conference. He’s having the best season of all point guards in the Eastern Conference.
G: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
(FRANK GUNN / AP FILE PHOTO)
DeMar DeRozan is proving he’s worth the $139 million deal he signed over the offseason. He’s become a true scorer and has taken over the mid-range game. He’s second in the NBA in two-point field goals made and two-point shooting percentage. That’s led to DeRozan averaging 28 points per game, only behind Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins for NBA lead. There’s no one close to DeRozan’s level at shooting guard in the Eastern Conference.
F: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
The Chicago Bulls are Jimmy Butler’s team, and he’s excelled in his new role. He switched positions to small forward and ranks second among the position with 25.7 points per game. He’s 0.2 points behind Kevin Durant for most among small forwards. Butler’s also averaging 6.8 rebounds per game. His points and rebounds per game totals are career highs. Dwyane Wade has helped Butler take his game to another level.
F: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard, (USA TODAY Sports)
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. He’s averaging 25 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Those are nearly the same totals he’s averaged since joining the Cleveland Cavaliers. What seperates himself from the pack this season is 9 assists per game. That’s his career high. His consistency on a nightly basis gives his team the chance to win on a nightly basis. He’ll receive the most fan and coach votes to start in the All-Star game.
F: Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat
Photo: LM Otero AP
No team had a more brutal offseason than the Miami Heat. Dwayne Wade signed with the Chicago Bulls and Chris Bosh’s blood clots ended his career. The Heat re-signed Hassan Whiteside to a max-level contract and he’s owned as face of the franchise. Whiteside’s 17.6 points and 14.7 rebounds per game are his career highs. He’s top-5 among NBA centers in points, rebounds and blocks per game. With little dominant centers in the Eastern Conferece, Whiteside will win the starting votes in a landslide.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Giannis Antetokunmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
G: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Isaiah J. Downing, (USA TODAY Sports)
Russell Westbrook is using his anger on the departure of Kevin Durant on the rest of the NBA. He’s averaging a triple double with 30.5 points, 10.6 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game. The last player to average a triple double in a single season was Oscar Robertson in 1972. Westbrook also leads the NBA with 20 double doubles and 12 triple doubles. With these crazy stats, the Thunder are winning games at 15-11, seventh in the Western Conference. Stephen Curry is no longer the best point guard in the NBA.
G: James Harden, Houston Rockets
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James Harden switched to point guard under Mike D’Antoni and it’s completely changed his career. Harden’s leading the NBA with 11.7 assists per game, 4.2 per game higher than his previous career high. Adding Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon increased the Rockets pace and stretched the floor, giving Harden more room to operate. This new system is leading to wins, and the Rockets are currently the 4th seed in the Western Conference. Westbrook and Harden are battling for NBA MVP.
F: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
(Photo: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)
Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors have been a perfect match at the start of the season. Durant’s averaging 25.9 points per game, the most among small forwards. He’s also averaging career highs in blocks and field-goal percentage. His 8.2 rebounds per game ties his career high he posted last season. The question moves to if Westbrook and Durant will pass the ball to eachother. This is the first of many All-Star games they’ll be on the same team.
F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the second best team in the Western Conference. He’s the definition of consistent improvement, increasing his points and assist averages every season in his six-year career. His 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game isn’t amongst the best in the league, but he plays on a team that revolves around winning over individual statistics. Every coach fears Leonard, and he’ll have no issues getting votes to represent the Western Conference All-Star team.
F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Davis is healthy, and his numbers reflect it. He’s tied with Westbrook averaging 30.5 points points per game and leads the NBA in blocks. Davis also leads all NBA power forwards in rebounds. Kevin Love and Davis are the only power forwards averaging a double double.His poor supporting cast inflates his numbers, but no other big man impacts a game more than Davis. The games are in New Orleans and Davis represents New Orleans basketball.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies