Wednesday, May 18 2022
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The NBA All-Star starters were announced last week, with Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant being named captains, and that just leaves us with the reserve spots for each conference to fill out the rosters for the Feb. 20 All-Star Game in Cleveland.

The reserves, which are voted on by the head coaches in each conference, will be announced on Thursday, and there are a few familiar faces who are pretty much locks to join the festivities. There are some debates around the fringes, however, so we took a look at the top candidates to earn reserve spots ahead of Thursday’s announcement. There are 14 total spots up for grabs, but with some players likely unable to play in the game due to injury, there will be additional selections made by commissioner Adam Silver. 

Here is how to watch the announcement of the 2022 NBA All-Star reserves, followed by a list of worthy players from each conference.

2022 NBA All-Star reserve selections

Western Conference All-Star Starters

You know the saying, “Father Time is undefeated?” LeBron, who turned 37 in December, is certainly putting that to the test with a phenomenal campaign that has kept the Lakers afloat despite an Anthony Davis injury and a disappointing first half from Russell Westbrook. There may come a day when LeBron James is no longer an All-Star, but we’re certainly not there yet.

Curry’s having the worst shooting season of his career and the Warriors have still exceeded expectations by holding the NBA’s best record for a large chunk of the first half. That tells you everything you need to know about his value, even when he’s not scoring. Everything the Warriors do offensively revolves around Curry, evidenced by the perilous drop in points per 100 possessions when he sits, and his defensive improvement this season has been acknowledged throughout the league.

You really can’t ask more of a superstar in today’s NBA than what Jokic has done for Denver so far this season. Whatever performance metric you want to use, Jokic is the NBA leader across the board, and his defense — which used to be considered a shortcoming — is now also a strength.

Morant has carried the breakout performance from his first playoff series into this season, as he’s become one of the league’s elite point guards in both scoring and playmaking — with supreme athleticism and bravado as added bonuses. His popularity along with the fact that he’s helped Memphis work its way into a top-four seed made Morant a starter in his first All-Star appearance.

Wiggins may have been the biggest surprise among All-Star starters, but he earned his spot fair and square. He’s averaging over 18 points per game on career-best efficiency, particularly from 3-point range, while taking the assignment of guarding the opponent’s best perimeter player on a nightly basis for the league’s top defense. Without Wiggins, there’s no way the Warriors would be sitting where they are in the standings.

Top Western Conference reserve candidates

*In no particular order

The driving force on the NBA’s best offense, Mitchell has put up a career-best field goal percentage while maintaining similar averages to his previous two All-Star seasons. There could be some weird numbers game that somehow prevents him from making it this year, but it’s not likely.

The casual fan may not recognize what Green does on a nightly basis, but a number of players and coaches have said it: What Steph Curry is to the Warriors offense, Draymond Green is to their top-ranked defense. Add in his cosmic connection with Curry, passing ability and tenacity in pushing the pace, and the 31-year-old Green is almost certain to make his first All-Star appearance since 2018 despite an injury that will likely prevent him from playing in the game.

The Defensive Player of the Year in three out of the last four seasons, Gobert is likely headed to his third-straight All-Star Game while notching career-highs in field goal percentage and rebounds per game. The Jazz’s recent troubles with Gobert out of the lineup only emphasize his significant impact on both ends of the floor.

A recent hot streak has put Booker right in line with his scoring average from last season, and he’s shooting a career-high from 3-point range while leading the Suns to the league’s best record. Phoenix will likely be rewarded with multiple All-Stars, and Booker is almost certainly a lock.

Paul’s All-Star case isn’t quite as clear-cut as Booker’s due to uncharacteristically low efficiency and a career-low scoring average, but he leads the league in assists and has once again been one of the league’s top clutch performers. He’s also played extremely well during the Suns’ recent winning streak, all but ensuring that the 36-year-old will be heading to his 12th All-Star Game.

It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, Doncic wasn’t a lock for the All-Star Game. Since then he’s looked more like the player we’ve grown accustomed to while leading the Mavericks up the Western Conference standings. Despite career-worst 3-point shooting this season, Doncic has likely played himself into his third All-Star appearance.

There’s no question about the tremendous load that George has carried for the Clippers on both sides with Kawhi Leonard out of the lineup, but decreased efficiency, increased turnovers and injuries have made it difficult to pencil George into the All-Star Game. Considering he’s only played in half of the Clippers’ games thus far, a case of “out of sight, out of mind” might keep him on the outside looking in when it comes to reserve selections.

Towns has been his normal, spectacular self on offense this season, but he’s also been a key cog in Minnesota’s improved defense — an area where he’s struggled in the past. With the Wolves hovering around .500 as the break approaches, Towns seems to have a pretty good chance of making his third All-Star appearance.

Davis is the only player in the league to average at least 20 points and two blocks per game, but games missed due to injury and the Lakers’ lackluster first-half performance may be determining factors in keeping him out of his ninth straight All-Star Game. That being said, he’s performed well enough in his time on the court to merit serious consideration.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said that his team’s lack of wins will probably keep Murray out of the All-Star Game this time around, but the 25-year-old guard has certainly made a convincing case. A nightly triple-double threat, Murray has increased his scoring average significantly while landing among the league leaders in steals.

If All-Star selection were based on entertainment alone, there would be no way to keep Edwards out. The explosive power guard has put up over 20 points per game and increased his 3-point efficiency considerably from last season. The West might be a bit too crowded for him to make his first All-Star appearance this season, but with a few potential injury replacements on the horizon, Edwards is definitely on the short list.

Eastern Conference All-Star starters

Hey, remember when we were wondering how Durant would look coming off a torn Achilles? Those questions have long been buried as Durant has performed at an MVP level for the Nets, who have been very good with him on the court. Durant won’t play in the game due to injury, but he was deservingly named one of the All-Star captains.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP has done nothing to lower his status in the league’s pecking order, boasting his typical gaudy numbers while keeping the Bucks afloat amid injuries and COVID-related absences. No surprise that the Greek Freak will make his sixth straight All-Star appearance.

The Sixers outscore opponents by over 10 points per 100 possessions with Embiid on the floor, which backs up the eye test that tells you he’s one of the most dominant players in the NBA. He’s also averaging a career-high in assists per game as he has become more comfortable handling double-teams and facilitating from the perimeter.

Most probably assumed DeRozan’s All-Star days were behind him, and now the 32-year-old is a well-deserved starter in his first season with the Bulls. He’s averaging close to a career-high in scoring and has come up clutch time and time again in a resurgent season with Chicago, now a legitimate Eastern Conference contender.

The Hawks have resembled a dumpster fire at times this season, but they’ve gotten hot recently as Young has been absolutely elite on the offensive end, averaging almost 28 points and 10 assists per game while blowing away his career-highs in field goal and 3-point percentage. Atlanta’s disappointing first-half record wasn’t enough to keep Young out of the starting lineup in his second All-Star appearance.

Top Eastern Conference reserve candidates

The only thing that could possibly prevent Butler from making his sixth All-Star appearance is a lack of games played, but he’s been phenomenal on both ends when he’s been on the court. He’s right behind his career-best scoring average while providing all the necessary intangibles on a nightly basis and leading the Heat to one of the best records in the East.

For all the hullabaloo about Harden being adversely affected by the new rule changes, here he is putting up 23/10/8 and shooting more free throws per game than he did last season. His shooting percentages are down, but he’s still among the league leaders in points per possession when you include assists.

The Bulls have stayed in or near first place in the East, which means they will almost assuredly get two All-Stars, and LaVine is more than deserving. He’s averaging nearly 25 points per game and pushing 50/40/90 efficiency despite the addition of scoring around him, which has led to Chicago’s first-half success.

VanVleet has made perhaps the biggest late push to get into the All-Star Game with a tremendously hot stretch through the month of January. Overall, he’s one of the most efficient offensive players in the league, to go along with his All-Defense level tenacity on the other end and winning intangibles. Whether he makes it or not, VanVleet has been more than worthy of his first All-Star selection.

It’s hard to imagine a player averaging almost 26 points and nine rebounds being left out of the All-Star Game, but Tatum’s shooting percentages are well below his career averages and the Celtics have overall been underwhelming. While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in Cleveland, there is certainly a case to be made against his selection given the strong field.

Khris Middleton has been the second All-Star in Milwaukee for the past couple of seasons, but Holiday has been outstanding this year on both ends of the floor with players in and out of the lineup. His on/off splits are slightly better than Giannis’ and his offensive efficiency is through the roof, so making his first All-Star Game since 2013 is a real possibility.

Allen has been nothing short of a revelation in his first full season with the Cavs, who have been one of the surprise success stories of the first half. His rim protection and rebounding are keys to Cleveland’s elite defense this season, and he’s also increased his scoring average almost four points from last year while shooting 70 percent from the field.

Many predicted a big step forward for Garland this season, and he’s gotten himself into the All-Star conversation by taking the reins of Cleveland’s offense with Collin Sexton and now Ricky Rubio out for the remainder of the season. Garland is averaging nearly 20 points and over eight assists per game, and he just recently turned 22 years old.

Ball has done absolutely everything for the Hornets in his second NBA season, among the team leaders in points, assists, rebounds and steals per game. His 3-point shooting has remained steady while taking two more attempts per game. He might also get some extra votes from those anticipating how fun he would be to watch in an All-Star Game.

Sabonis was an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, and his numbers this year are incredibly similar to that precedent. However, the Pacers are nowhere near in contention in the East, which likely hurts his chances this time around.

Middleton’s efficiency is down from his last couple of seasons, but he’s still a 38 percent 3-point shooter averaging nearly 20 points per game. The Bucks have underwhelmed in the first half, which means they likely won’t get three All-Stars, so it could come down to a battle between Middleton and Holiday.

Herro has gotten a late All-Star push led by Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who urged voters to look past the fact that Herro comes off the bench. What the 22-year-old does as a scorer and playmaker has been vital to Miami’s first-half success, and he has the numbers to back it up.

Siakam missed a good chunk of the first half due to injury, but he’s been excellent since his return. He’s averaging career-highs in assists and rebounds while putting up over 20 points per game for the Raptors.



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