Who makes the All-star game from the Eastern Conference this February? I don’t know, but let’s see who is most deserving through the first 15 games of the season. Certainly the east’s squad is much easier to configure. As of Friday afternoon, the conference has seven teams above 500. Because the All-star team is organized with heavy consideration of team record, let’s take a look at those seven teams to decipher the 12 man roster. This is the team as of November 16th, not who definitely makes the team in February. Same rules apply as regular All-star selections. Four guards, six front-court players, two wildcards.
Toronto Raptors– Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry– The Raptors have the best record in the league. Through this point of the season, Lowry and Leonard are the best duo in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks– Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton– Giannis has “struggled” by his standards, but is a lock to make the team and is nonetheless a top-7 player in the NBA. The impressive team record merits a second All-star and Middleton is averaging 19 points per game and shooting 45% from three-point range.
Boston Celtics– Kyrie Irving, Al Horford– After struggling early in the season, Irving has been scorching the last several games. Horford is the most steady piece of the Celtics core. Consistently underappreciated.
Indiana Pacers– Victor Oladipo– Oladipo has sustained his success from his breakout 2018 season. He is comfortably a top-5 player in the conference.
Philadelphia 76ers– Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler– Alright, I know what you’re thinking. How is JB an All-star after one game in Philly? I will explain in a moment. Embiid has been an absolute monster. Simmons is lethal in transition.
Detroit Pistons– Blake Griffin– The Pistons are coming off their best win of the season after upsetting the Raptors earlier in the week. Griffin has been the biggest reason Detroit is above .500.
Charlotte Hornets– Kemba Walker– Kemba has been a stud and the Hornets have been atrocious without him on the court.
- Guards: Kyrie Irving, Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker
- Front-court: Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Blake Griffin, Ben Simmons, Al Horford
- Wildcards: Khris Middleton, Jimmy Butler
But back to Butler. Yes, it’s premature to insert Jimmy into the select 12 players making the All-star team for the Eastern Conference. Two thoughts: 1.) He’s a top-15 player in the NBA who is in a contract year (translation: he’s going to try extra hard for the next 60-plus games with Philly) and 2.) here’s his opposition for the final spot: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown (both have struggled mightily so far this season), Andre Drummond (gaudy stats, but his production has not impacted winning), Aaron Gordon, Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson, John Wall, Bradley Beal (sub-.500 teams, historically a no-no unless you’re a superstar). I like Jimmy’s chances right now.
It’s strange to imagine an All-star game without a healthy John Wall or even Beal at this point, but they are a few days removed from the bottom of the standings in the NBA. Maybe that changes. For now, that’s my 12. What do you think?