Yes, it’s only been a week since we last looked at the players who deserve to be All-Star starters this season.
No, it’s not too early to revisit them.
Between Dec. 19 and Jan. 20, fans will be able to vote for the 10 players they want to see representing the Western Conference and Eastern Conference in the 2024 NBA All-Star Game. Fans will account for 50 percent of the All-Star starter vote. The other 50 percent will be split between current players and a media panel.
While the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Luka Doncic are locks to be All-Star starters, there are a few spots up for grabs. My updated picks feature two new names — one multi-time All-Star and one player who is looking to earn the honor for the first time in his career.
Updated Eastern Conference All-Star starters prediction
- G: Jalen Brunson, Knicks
- G: Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers
- F: Jayson Tatum, Celtics
- F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
- C: Joel Embiid, 76ers
What hasn’t changed
It’s going to be tough for anyone to break through the Eastern Conference frontcourt. Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo finished first and third, respectively, in ESPN’s first MVP straw poll of the season. Jayson Tatum isn’t at quite the same level as them, but he’s still an excellent two-way player who has been the best player on the best team in the NBA.
Tyrese Haliburton holds onto one of the guard spots. He’s come back down to earth a bit following a scorching start, but he’s still powering the best offense in the NBA while leading the league in assists.
What has changed
I didn’t include Jalen Brunson in my honorable mentions last time, which was an oversight. He’s been New York’s best player and has been a force in December, averaging just under 30 points per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3.
Brunson has long been a dominant midrange scorer, but his development as a 3-point shooter is not talked about enough. He’s gone from being mostly a spot-up 3-point shooter in Dallas to one of the league’s best off-the-dribble 3-point shooters in New York.
The only players who have made more pull-up 3s than Brunson so far this season are Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry and Haliburton. Brunson has connected on 43.5 percent of those opportunities, which is the best mark of that group.
Tyrese Maxey is still very much in the mix, as are Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young. Keep an eye on Young in particular. The Hawks are under .500, but he’s had at least 30 points and 10 assists in seven straight games. If he gets one more, he’ll break a tie with Oscar Robertson for the longest such streak in NBA history.
Honorable mention: Damian Lillard, Bucks; Tyrese Maxey, 76ers; Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers; Trae Young, Hawks
Updated Western Conference All-Star starters prediction
- G: Luka Doncic, Mavericks
- G: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder
- F: LeBron James, Lakers
- F: Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
- C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
What hasn’t changed
Stephen Curry is the biggest threat to shake up the Western Conference backcourt, but Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continue to hold him off.
As much of a struggle as it has been for the Lakers, LeBron James continues to do things we’ve never seen before. Nikola Jokic is still flirting with a 30-point triple-double on a nightly basis and is in the running for a third MVP award. It’s gotten so easy for him that he’s treating warm-ups like a game of H.O.R.S.E.
What has changed
Kawhi Leonard is back to being Kawhi Leonard.
Over the last 12 games, Leonard has been good for 29.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists. His shooting numbers during this stretch have been ridiculous: 83.0 percent at the rim, 60.0 percent from floater range, 43.5 percent from midrange and 51.7 percent from 3-point range. He’s been available, too. He’s missed LA’s last two games, both of which the Clippers lost, but he played in 27 straight games to start the season.
Leonard’s been the No. 1 reason the Clippers have turned their season around and look like a real threat in the Western Conference again. That gives him the edge over Kevin Durant … for now.
Honorable mention: Stephen Curry, Warriors; Anthony Davis, Lakers; Kevin Durant, Suns
Source : ESPN.com