Last week, the starters for the 2023 NBA All-Star game were announced and the announcement did not come without any controversy. On Thursday, the reserves for both the Western Conference and Eastern Conference were announced and there were some notable names missing headlined by Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden.
THE 2023 NBA ALL-STAR RESERVES ARE HERE 🤩 pic.twitter.com/s2EHRtrwkl
— ESPN (@espn) February 3, 2023
Perhaps the biggest omission in the Eastern Conference and overall was James Harden. The snub ends Harden’s streak of ten consecutive All-Star appearances going back to the 2012-13 season, his first with the Houston Rockets. Although Harden missed some time earlier this season, he has been back since the beginning of December and has been a big reason why the Sixers have surged in the East standings to the third seed and only one game back of the second seed Milwaukee Bucks
Speaking of surging teams, the Sacramento Kings have done just that moving up to the third seed in the West standings and two and half games up on the fourth seed Los Angeles Clippers. The Kings will have one representative at the NBA All-Star game in Domantas Sabonis, but De’Aaron Fox has arguably been the best player on the team and their driving force. He’s leading the team in scoring at 24.3 points per game and is their second leading playmaker behind Sabonis with 6.1 assists.
There was a lot of discussion in the NBA world leading up to the announcements as to whether or not the Knicks deserved to have two All-Stars on the team. There was definitely a case for Julius Randle but whatever way you slice it, Jalen Brunson has been having an All-Star caliber season. He’s averaging career-highs in points (22.8) and assists (6.2) and is thriving in an expanded ball-handling role as compared to his role with the Dallas Mavericks.
It seems as if Pascal Siakam was going to be battling Julius Randle for a spot on the NBA All-Star reserves. If the coaches had voted Jalen Brunson in as the Knicks All-Star representative, it’s likely Siakam would’ve gotten in. There has been plenty of discourse as to whether or not winning should play a factor in All-Star voting but the Raptors record would be a lot worse without Siakam. He is putting up career-highs in numbers as well and this season he dropped a career-high 52 points against Randle and the Knicks no less back in December.
If this was earlier in the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves not having an All-Star representative probably wouldn’t have caused anyone to bat an eye. But the Wolves have shown impressive growth and improved play over the past month and Anthony Edwards is a big part of that. He’s hands down the best player on the team right now. His efficiency has surged (46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range). He’s shown improved playmaking as well. As it stands, the Wolves are the only team in playoff/play-in positioning in the West that does not have an All-Star.
It just seems like there were plenty of deserving players in the East for the NBA All-Star game and good players were going to be snubbed regardless. Darius Garland is one of those players. The Cleveland Cavaliers will have Donovan Mitchell on board but Garland had a case in his own right. He was an All-Star last season and his numbers are nearly identical this season. There was no Mitchell last year though and Mitchell is having an extraordinary season. In any other year, Garland gets in.
The Boston Celtics are the best team record-wise in the East and they have two All-Stars in Jalen Brunson and Jaylen Brown. The Denver Nuggets are the best team record-wise in the West and they have only one All-Star in Nikola Jokic. It’s possible Jamal Murray could have had a case too but when it comes down to it the Nuggets deserved a second All-Star. Gordon has been nothing but consistent and has been averaging career-highs in efficiency (57.7 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from three-point range.
There were a couple of players that ordinarily would be regulars on the All-Star team in Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker and Anthony Davis, but those players have missed extensive time this season. Even though they’ve certainly played like All-Stars when they have been on the court, they just haven’t played in enough games to justify a selection.