The time of the year has finally come. The 2018 NBA All Star Weekend will take place in the iconic city of Los Angeles from Feb 16 – 18. The festivities will see quite a lot of changes this time around.
While the system for selecting the players remains the same, its the competition format that has changed. Ten starters, 5 each from both conferences are selected on a basis of 50% fan vote, 25% player vote and 25% media vote. The player who got the most votes in each conference is named captain.
Starters aside, the rest 14 players making up the bench will be selected by NBA Head Coaches just like last year. However, each captain will pick players, one by one, from these 14 players and the rest of the 8 starters to play on his team. Each captain will pick 11 players each. This means that this won’t be a typical East versus West matchup. LeBron might play alongside Durant instead of playing against him. Brace yourselves already.
The East frontcourt will feature LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. The King is returning to the All Star Game for the 14th straight year averaging 27 points, 8 rebounds and almost 9 assists while shooting well above 50 percent from the field. At Power Forward, we have “The Greek Freak” returning for his second all star appearance. Joel Embiid is the only first time selection finalised yet. Embiid has been keeping the Sixers on the road to playoffs. He’s averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks so far this season.
Moving on to the guards, Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan will headline the guard party for the eastern conference. Irving is averaging 24 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists while leading his new team to the top of the eastern conference standings, all while being extremely efficient in every aspect of the game. DeRozan is having a breakout year, of sorts. He has led the Toronto Raptors to the second spot in the east, courtesy of some newly added moves to his arsenal. So far he’s averaging 25 points, 4 rebounds and a career high 5 assists, shooting at a clip of 35 percent from deep, another career high for the 3 time all star.
Predicting the Reserves
Victor Oladipo (G)
This one’s a no brainer. There is no way Victor Oladipo is getting snubbed. He’s averaging 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on 48% shooting from the field, all the while leading the Pacers to the 7th spot in the east.
John Wall (G)
Arguably the only true point guard remaining in the eastern conference, John Wall will be a favourite for both the all star captains. He’s had a solid year so far, averaging 19 points, 9 assists , a block and a steal while keeping the Wizards in the hunt for a top 4 seed.
Kristaps Porzingis (F)
Kristaps Porzingis has been quietly playing the Carmelo Anthony role in New York. He’s averaging 23 points, 7 rebounds and a league leading 2.4 blocks. He is also the force that is somehow keeping the Knicks in the playoff hunt.
Andre Drummond (F)
Andre Drummond might be the most improved player already. He’ averaging a league high 15 rebounds, 14 points and a career high 4 assists a game. He must have had some voodoo done on his hands as he’s making over 60 percent of his free throws, an improvement of over 20 percent from last season.
Kevin Love (F)
Kevin Love has been handling the Centre position for the Cavs, a team not known for its size. He’s done a spectacular job so far, averaging 19 points and almost 10 rebounds while shooting at a high clip. Love has been the binding force for the Cavs offence and for that he deserves this spot.
Bradley Beal (Wildcard)
Bradley Beal has been the second best player on the Wizards and there were times when he had to be the number one option and fill in for John Wall. Beal does not deserve another snub after last year. He’s tallying 24 points, 4 rebounds and almost 4 assists on a 46% conversion rate.
Al Horford (Wildcard)
Al Horford‘s case is a tricky one. Statistically, he might be an average player but not many players can do what he does on both ends of the floor. His averages of 13 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists might not seem all star caliber. However, he does what his team needs him to do; stretching the floor, rim protection, elite passing. If anyone deserves that last spot, it’s Horford.