NBA All-Star Roundtable: Starters reactions and reserve picks

NBA All-Star

With the reserves for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game set to be revealed tonight on TNT, several of our writers convened for a roundtable discussion on who should fill out the rosters for the Western and Eastern Conferences. In addition, they were asked to react to the starting lineups All-Star Game. Our writers for this roundtable are:

Randy King: (@randizzleking16)

Alex Fischbein: (@ThatKidFisch)

Felix John-Baptiste: (@TwoSmooth2)

Alfonso De Falco: (@FonzyDeFalco)

Ralph Cortes: (__@RLoading)

1. Name your Eastern Conference reserves.

King: Isaiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Drummond, John Wall, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker.

Fischbein: Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Joel Embiid, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Love, Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard.

John-Baptiste: Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Al Horford, Joel Embiid, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker.

De Falco: Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Paul George, Paul Millsap, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker.

Cortes: Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Al Horford, Paul George, Kemba Walker, Kevin Love, Joel Embiid.

2. Name your Western Conference reserves.

King: Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, C.J McCollum, Karl Anthony-Towns.

Fischbein: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward.

John-Baptiste: Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, Damian Lillard, Marc Gasol.

De Falco: Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Jordan, Klay Thompson, Rudy Gobert.

Cortes: Russell Westbrook, Gordon Hayward, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green.

3. Biggest starting West snub?

King: I would say the biggest snub in the West (outside of the obvious Russell Westbrook) goes to C.J. McCollum. McCollum has been playing alongside elite point guard Damian Lillard who is averaging 26.2 PPG. Those two together have kept Portland in contention for gaining that eighth seed by themselves. McCollum is averaging a career-best 23.5 PPG, which is currently 15th in the NBA. McCollum’s season-high this year was against the Timberwolves where he dropped 43 and won the game for Portland — without Damian Lillard.

Fischbein: Outside of the most obvious choice, Russell Westbrook, the biggest starting snub for West has to be DeMarcus Cousins. Someone who is averaging 28.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks definitely deserves to start in the All-Star Game. Anthony Davis does have some more points and rebounds, but Cousins is shooting 37.5% from three compared to Davis’ 29.6%. On top of that, it could be fun to see Boogie and his antics during All-Star Weekend.

John-Baptiste: Russell Westbrook, period! The definition of a starting snub is someone who deserved to start but was superseded by popularity or some other metric to another individual who was less deserving of the spot. Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double and looks like he’ll be carrying the Thunder to the playoffs in his first season without Kevin Durant. Yes, Stephen Curry is averaging 24.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 6.1 APG, but his counterpart is doing something that has only been achieved once before for an entire season.

De Falco: Westbrook, no ifs, and’s or buts about it! This guy is averaging a triple-double, which is unheard off to do for this long into the season. On top of leading this young Thunder team to a playoff spot without his former teammate Kevin Durant, it is impressive what he is doing. It is scary to think what he’ll do during the game itself now that he is considered one of the biggest snubs in All-Star game history.

Cortes: The obvious answer would be Russell Westbrook. However, another player that definitely deserved serious consideration to start was Gordon Hayward. He’s elevated his game to the next level, which has helped the Utah Jazz to become a playoff team. Aside from the great supporting cast Utah has, the team’s success can also be credited to Gordon Hayward due to his improved basketball game. He’s putting up great numbers for a great Utah Jazz team and that alone gives him some consideration to start the All-Star game.

NBA All-Star
Photo: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images

4. Biggest starting East snub?

King: Biggest snub has to go to Isaiah Thomas due to his productivity. He’s second in the league in scoring only behind MVP front-runner Russell Westbrook, and his efficiency rating of 24.7 surpasses both of the Eastern All-Star starting guards in DeMar DeRozan (23.5) and Kyrie Irving (20.9).

Fischbein: Biggest snub in the East is easily Kyle Lowry. Lowry has been the best point guard in the East, and has had the biggest impact on his team. When you’re playing alongside another All-Star in DeMar DeRozan, but the team is a positive when you’re on the court compared to off the court, that’s a big sign in Lowry’s favor. Oh, he’s also shooting 47% from the floor and 43% from three, but no big deal.

John-Baptiste: I was tempted to go out on a limb and say there were zero snubs in the East. Then I compared point guard stats and realized that Isaiah Thomas should be in that starting spot (Thomas 29 PPG, Irving 23.8 PPG). Kyrie Irving definitely deserves to be playing in the game, but Thomas has been lights out. He’s lead the Celtics to the third spot in the East (.5 games back of Toronto), and leads the league in 4th quarter scoring.

De Falco: My pick is Isaiah Thomas. The former No. 60 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft is averaging close to 30 points a game. It is kind of hard with a great selection of guards in the Eastern Conference, with that being said I think Thomas deserved the nod at the starting spot because of what he has been able to do for the Boston Celtics. 

Cortes: Isaiah Thomas for sure. The 5’9 guard for the Boston Celtics has been playing great basketball. Averaging nearly 30 points a game with very efficient shooting percentages to go along with it. Isaiah has come up big in the clutch in many of Boston’s games. He has often gone on scoring barrages in the 4th quarter to win games for his Celtics. Kyrie Irving definitely deserves consideration to start the All-Star game, but Isaiah Thomas has been playing a little better than him throughout the season.

5. Who is the least deserving All-Star starter?

King: Kyrie Irving. Although he is an elite point guard and does deserve to be on the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, there are other guards who are more deserving of that starting spot.

Kyrie is having a solid year statistically and if not for sharing the ball alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love his numbers would be even better. Given that Isaiah Thomas is doing it all in Boston, with Al Horford still adjusting to his role, you have to give Thomas the nod at starting over Kyrie.

If there was the case of Kyrie starting at the two-guard for the All-Star game, I would have to argue that you simply cannot replace DeMar DeRozan, who has been flourishing and has taken over as “the guy” in Toronto, having a career year with highs in PPG (27.9) and FG% (47%), which both are higher than what Kyrie is averaging (23.8 PPG, 46 FG%).

Fischbein: The least deserving starter, to me, goes hand-in-hand with the All-Star snub. Stephen Curry seemed to get the starting nod due to being more popular with the fans. We all know that’s Russell Westbrook’s starting spot, and there shouldn’t have been any question about it.

NBA All-Star
Tyler Kaufman/AP

John-Baptiste: Do we really have to do this? Wow. So, I’m sitting here looking at the two starting point guards from last year’s Finals to determine which of them was the least deserving of a starting spot. You can’t really be too shocked as this is a guard-driven league now and the competition is stiff every night. Heck, Derrick Rose averages 17.5 PPG, so you cant even rest playing the Knicks or he’ll smoke you. BUT, there can only be one. And I’m choosing Stephen Curry. I just don’t know how you argue against a man averaging a triple-double with his team in the playoff hunt.

De Falco: It goes back to Curry and Westbrook situation. Look, Stephen Curry is great don’t get me wrong but the guy playing behind him is averaging a TRIPLE-DOUBLE. It should have been Westbrook’s starting spot.

Cortes: Stephen Curry. This is not a knock against what Curry is doing, but more on the fact that Russell Westbrook is way more deserving. Stephen Curry is having a very solid season himself, but come on, the “Brodie” is averaging a triple-double. If the league won’t give him the MVP, at least give him an All-Star starting spot!


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