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NBA All-Star

Predicting 2020 NBA All-Star Game Eastern Conference Reserves

The NBA announced the 10 starters for the 2020 All-Star Game on Thursday. The starters in the Eastern Conference include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker and Trae Young. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic and James Harden headline the starters from the Western Conference.

14 more All-Stars — seven from each conference — will join these starters for the All-Star Game Feb. 16 in Chicago. NBA coaches select the seven for each conference. They must choose three frontcourt players, two guards and two ‘wild cards’ from any position.

The All-Star reserves will be announced Jan. 30. Let’s project the Eastern Conference reserves.

Forward: Jimmy Butler, Heat

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler is a lock to make the All-Star roster. A surprise omission from the East’s starting-five, Butler has posted 20.2 points per night with career-high averages in rebounds (6.9) and assists (6.5).

Butler is sixth in the league in steals per game (1.8). He holds the fourth-best Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in the East. Most importantly, Butler is the backbone of a Heat squad that has far surpassed expectations.

Forward: Domantas Sabonis, Pacers

Stepping up in the absence of Victor Oladipo (ACL), Domantas Sabonis has kept the Indiana Pacers in the thick of the East’s playoff picture. Sabonis is a walking double-double, accumulating 36 on the season with two triple-doubles.

A terrific low post player, Sabonis is scoring at a much higher rate (18.1 points/game) than last year (14.1).  He averages the third-most rebounds (12.8) in the East.

Furthermore, Sabonis thrives in the pick-and-roll. He ranks second in the NBA in both screen assists and screen assists points.

Forward: Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Third-year pro Jayson Tatum is morphing into the star that many envisioned he’d eventually become. His scoring (21.5) and rebounding (6.9) clips are easily career-highs.

Tatum has developed into a terrific defender for the Boston Celtics. He maintains the third-best defensive real plus-minus rating in basketball.

The Celtics are considerably worse with Tatum off the floor, a clear indicator of his massive importance to the club.

Guard: Ben Simmons, 76ers

Ben Simmons is the most qualified guard among potential reserves for the East. The defensive stalwart is the league-leader in steals per contest (2.2) and ranks fifth in deflections (3.8). Simmons will be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year at season’s end.

The floor general of the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons has achieved career-highs in assists and shooting percentage.

Guard: Kyle Lowry, Raptors

The Toronto Raptors remain in the hunt for the second seed in the East, despite Pascal Siakam missing 11 consecutive games with a groin injury. It was Kyle Lowry, the Raptors longtime point guard, who carried the load in Siakam’s absence.

Lowry has registered per-game averages of 20 points, 7.4 assists (fourth-most in East) and 4.6 rebounds. Turning 34 in March, he remains a strong defender and leader in the locker room. If selected by the coaches, it would mark Lowry’s sixth consecutive All-Star appearance.

Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Washington’s Bradley Beal could get the nod over Lowry. But it’s difficult to envision the fourth-seeded Celtics getting three representatives at the All-Star Game. And while Beal is producing career-bests in scoring and assists, he has shot inefficiently and played terrible defense for the woebegone Wizards (15-31).

Wild Card: Bam Adebayo, Heat

22-year-old Bam Adebayo is enjoying a breakout campaign. The Heat big man is averaging a double-double with 16 points and 10.4 rebounds. He is a good passer for his position, dishing 4.7 assists per evening. He has compiled three triple-doubles on the year.

Adebayo is capable of protecting the rim, but is fast enough to also hold his own on the perimeter. The versatile forward has logged 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest.

Wild Card: Khris Middleton, Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks (41-6) are the NBA’s best team, so they are likely to have multiple All-Stars. Look for Khris Middleton to join teammate and MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo for the All-Star Game.

Middleton is on pace to produce a 50-40-90 (field goal/3-point/free throw percentage) shooting mark for the season. He currently holds splits of 50.3/43.2/90.

The Bucks are often on the winning end of lopsided scores—the main reason why Middleton’s minutes (28.8) are his lowest since his rookie campaign. Despite playing under 30 minutes a night, the forward has managed to average 20.2 points. Middleton’s points per 48 minutes (33.6) better represent his production, for which he ranks 6th in the East and 16th overall across the league.