The NBA will announce its All-Star starters on Jan. 27, but we’re going to go one step further today and pick the whole dang squad for the Western Conference. As a reminder, the starters must include three players from the frontcourt and two players from the backcourt, with no other position restrictions than that. Reserves should consist of two other players in the backcourt, three more in the frontcourt and two jokers – it’s fun! All stats are through January 24. Let’s go…
(Click here for our Eastern Conference picks.)
Backcourt starters: Stephen Curry, Ja Morant
Even with his recent shooting struggles, you just can’t let Curry off this team. On the contrary, this season is an indicator of how the threatens of Curry’s shot is sometimes almost as – or more – important than the number of shots. The Warriors star’s tally stats are perfectly fine (26.0 PPG / 5.3 RPG / 6.2 APG), but he shoots a pedestrian (for the greatest shooter of all time). ) 37.6% out of three. And despite what would be the worst three-point percentage of Steph’s career, Golden State still has a 114.4 offensive rating with him on the floor, according to Cleaning the Glass, which equates to the second-best offense in the NBA. . Besides, it’s Curry. Do I really need to sell you on him?
Morant deserves to make the first of what will likely be many All-Star starts. Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul and Luka Dončić all have good cases, but for what it’s worth Mitchell and Dončić are currently watching Morant in the standings. (Injuries played a part, to be fair.) Morant takes the edge for me because he seems to have helped shape the Grizzlies in his image, and he was the biggest driver of their success. He’s also been more efficient than Dončić and Mitchell so far this season, and he carries a much heavier burden than Paul.
Front row starters: LeBron James, Nikola Jokić, Rudy Gobert
James and Jokić are absolute, cold locks as starters. James averages 29 points per night, which would be his best score since 2010. 2010! When was the last time a player spent 12 years between their highest scoring averages, while averaging at least 25.0 points per game every season in between? Has this ever happened? James is throwing lines at a career-high rate, hitting a good number but not many, and still shooting over 50% from the field. Of the many frustrating things about this Lakers season, perhaps the most significant is how roster building – while perhaps forcing that offensive barrage from James – wastes a massive effort on the part of the team. ‘one of the greats in the game. (Who was responsible for that roster building notwithstanding.)
Jokić was my mid-season MVP. He’s in the 100th percentile in the on-field/off-field splits, according to Cleaning the Glass. That means no NBA player makes a bigger difference to his team when he’s playing than when he’s sitting down. The Nuggets play like one of the best teams in the league with Jokić on the floor and play like one of the worst teams of the century when sitting out. Jokić is averaging 26.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 57.3% from three. He is crazy.
The last place in the front line is perhaps slightly debatable. The inclusion of Gobert means the start of two centers. Karl-Anthony Towns has a good point to include, but Gobert is too vital to the success of one of the NBA’s best teams to pass up. Utah is elite at both ends of the court when Gobert plays, which is a testament to his screen setting and rim protection. The Stifle Tower will never blow your mind with its counting stats, although throwing a 16 and a 15 with a few blocks per night is nothing to scoff at. Utah’s struggles without Rudy this season only strengthen his case.
Back Reserves: Chris Paul, Devin Booker
At 36, Paul is averaging the seventh best assist-to-spin ratio and best assist ratio of his career. CP3’s stats aren’t overwhelming (even though he leads the league in assists), but he’s the driving force behind what has been the best team in the NBA. Meanwhile, Devin Booker is averaging 25/5/4 while posting his best-of-three shooting season, both in terms of volume and efficiency. The team’s success shouldn’t be the end of the All-Star debates, but the Suns have a good cushion in the league standings. They deserve two All-Stars.
Forward Reserves: Luka Dončić, Karl-Anthony Towns, Draymond Green
The Mavericks are 21–11 when Dončić plays, the equivalent of a 53-win season. And after a sluggish start, Dallas is now coming in force. The team’s defense improved as Luka continued to pile up the numbers. Dončić is averaging 25.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. He is currently the only member of the 25/8.5/8.5 club this season. (I’m also probably cheating a bit using Luka as a forward. I don’t care. Let the NBA fight me. I don’t think Paul George or Anthony Davis should make the play on positional technicality when they’ve missed so many games. I think when things go well, the coaches will vote for Luka as a striker.)
Towns (24.3/9.2/3.7) has an argument to start with. He’s shooting 40.4% from three. (Yes, he currently shoots better from long range than Curry.) And Wolves have been good! Don’t be fooled by their 23-23 record. Minnesota’s top roster has played just 18 of its first 46 games and is closing in on Denver to exit the play-ins and enter the playoffs.
Draymond Green is the best defensive player on the NBA’s Best Defensive Team, and he’s arguably the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. You can put his box score stats in a shoebox, put them under your bed, and forget about them forever. Draymond plays a huge role at both ends of the court for the team with the second-highest net rating in the NBA. There’s no world in which someone like him shouldn’t be an All-Star.
Wild Card Reserves: Donovan Mitchell, Dejounte Murray
Mitchell (25.5/4.0/5.2) is the top scorer and top offensive player on the NBA’s top offense. It seems important! Of all players who execute at least six pick-and-rolls as a ball handler per game, Mitchell leads everyone in points per possession at 1.05. He also has the third-best effective field goal percentage in this group, which is a testament to the death of his pull-up three.
My last place goes to Dejounte Murray. He’s the only player in the NBA to average at least 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game, and he adds two more steals. Spurs haven’t been very good, but with injuries hampering Paul George’s case and Andrew Wiggins not carrying such a heavy burden, Murray is more than worthy of his first cap.
More NBA coverage:
• NBA Power Rankings: A player to watch for every team
• NBA Rookie Rankings: Mid-Season Awards
• NBA Midseason Awards: Nominations for MVP, Rookie of the Year, more
• 2022 NBA All-Star Rookie Selection