After the announcement of the NBA all-star starters, the Sports Gazette presents the remaining names that could complete the rosters.
James Harden (Brooklyn Nets) – The superstar guard has adapted well to his new surroundings in Brooklyn. Harden has taken on the playmaking duties for the Nets, whilst maintaining his scoring touch. This is the second time Harden has averaged over 10 assists, previously doing so during the 2016-17 season when he finished second in MVP voting.
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics) – Many thought Brown was snubbed for all-star honours last season, and he has only bettered his performances since then. This season, the Celtics wing is averaging 26 points, shooting over 50% from the field and over 40% from three-point range. All of these are career highs.
Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) – Back in January, Jayson Tatum missed five games after testing positive for COVID-19. Since recovering, Tatum’s shooting percentages have disappointed, but the Celtics star is still putting up great numbers because of his ability to get to the free throw line.
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) – The Bucks star is posting almost identical scoring numbers, despite the team acquiring another great player in Jrue Holiday. Middleton is also shooting an impressive 44% from three-point territory.
Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers) – Over the last decade, the Indiana Pacers have been one of the most consistent teams in the eastern conference. Sabonis remains the key man amongst a cast of very good players. The Pacers star is one of the best playmaking big men in the NBA with his second consecutive season averaging five or more assists per game.
Ones to Watch (East)
Julius Randle (New York Knicks) – In the past, Randle has been accused of putting up empty numbers, as his great stats never led to team success. With the arrival of coach Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks find themselves in playoff contention, as Randle averages career highs in points, rebounds and assists.
Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) – The all-star game is usually a high scoring contest, so it would make sense to include one of the best scorers in the league. Like Randle, LaVine has been branded with the good stats bad team label previously. However, the Bulls guard is scoring with such great efficiency that it would be harsh to leave him off the roster.
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) – Ben Simmons does things that are not always picked up by statistics. His defence has been dominant again this season, but his points per game average is not as high as other reserve candidates, which could hurt his stock.
Gordon Hayward (Charlotte Hornets) – The only players in NBA history who have signed multiple contracts worth $30m annually are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and… Gordon Hayward. Although Hayward is not in the same class as The King and KD, he has proved many of his doubters wrong as he could well lead the Hornets to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) – The Blazers have lost two of their big three to injury in Jusuf Nurkić and CJ McCollum, but are still a top five team in the west. This is primarily because of the heroics of Lillard who is an MVP candidate, let alone an all-star.
Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers) – George has been on a revenge tour since his lacklustre performance in last season’s playoffs. Although he has not played since February 4th (as of 18/02/21), he totalled 36 points and 8 threes that day and has been consistently great this season.
Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers) – Davis will not play in the game due to injury, but he has still posted all-star numbers, even if they are subpar for his standards. The Lakers are still one of the best teams in the league if not the best, and Davis is pivotal to their success.
Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) – Mitchell remains the go to man for the Jazz. The fourth year guard does not have the best shooting percentages, but he provides the offence needed to balance out the defensive juggernaut of Utah.
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) – As Mitchell’s partner in crime, Gobert is a key reason why the Utah Jazz currently hold the league’s best record. He continues to dominate defensively and is deserving of all-star recognition for his play thus far.
Ones to Watch (West)
Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns) – Paul has ensured that the performance of the Phoenix Suns in last season’s NBA bubble has not been deemed a fluke. The veteran point guard has similar numbers to his bounce back season in Oklahoma City and has propelled the Suns into the playoff standings.
Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) – Questions have been asked of the young star’s commitment on defence but you cannot take away from his 25 points per game on 62% shooting from the field. Williamson’s lack of team success may stifle his all-star chances in the competitive western conference.
De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings) – Once again, his team’s record may prove fatal, but Fox is putting up more than 20 points per game with close to seven assists for the second straight season, numbers that are traditionally rewarded with an all-star selection.