NBA All-Star Reserves predictions before tonight's official announcement
The 2021 NBA All-Star Reserves will be revealed tonight on TNT at 7:00 pm/et. Different from the All-Star Starters, the reserves are picked entirely by NBA coaches, with the only stipulation being that coaches cannot vote for their own players. For both the Eastern and Western Conferences, coaches pick two backcourt players, three in the frontcourt and two wildcards, which can be players of any position. So while the NBA is essentially in the “positionless basketball” era, positions still exist for the All-Star Game.
The Celtics have been seriously struggling as of late, but they still roster two strong All-Star Reserve candidates in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. This year, Tatum is looking to secure his second All-Star selection, while Brown is looking to secure the first of his career. In my opinion, bias or no bias, I believe that both should be All-Stars this season, but the Celtics record could hold them back. There are going to be some notable snubs this year for the All-Star game, and some team(s) is/are going to feel like their player was screwed.
Here are my picks for this year’s All-Star Reserves, with a brief explanation about each player selected:
Adam Glanzman. Getty Images.
G: Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics. For myself, and much of the NBA world, this one should be a no-brainer. Brown has shattered expectations this season, as he has become a 1B to Jayson Tatum’s 1A, instead of a true second option. I’d consider him a lock for an All-Star spot.
G: James Harden, Brooklyn Nets. Regardless of your feelings on how Harden left Houston, Harden has been cooking since arriving in Brooklyn. He’s accepted the role of primary facilitator on the Nets, and is averaging a league-leading 11.1 assists. Consider him a lock for a spot as well, especially with Brooklyn starting to gel and win games without Kevin Durant.
Brian Babineau. NBAE/Getty Images.
FC: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics. Tatum is a player who I expect will make the team, but the Celtics recent skid does concern me. I don’t know how much NBA coaches will take this into consideration while voting, but I’d love to see both the Jay’s in the All-Star Game this year.
FC: Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks. Middleton is a player who always sneaks under the radar of casual NBA fans, perhaps due to his “fundamentals” play-style and all of the hype around Giannis. However, Middleton is averaging a near 50-40-90 season for the second year in a row, and is one of the best second options in the league.
FC: Julius Randle, New York Knicks. This is one of my most controversial picks, as there are a number of deserving players in the East for this spot. However, I can’t look past Randle’s explosion of career highs across the board, as he is now an efficient and effective star for the Knicks. It’s difficult to tell if the Knicks will make the playoffs this season as a number of teams are hovering around .500, but Randle has been a revelation this year.
WC: Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls. Lavine was a player many fans wanted to see make the All-Star Team last season, but there are questions around his overall effectiveness, and whether or not he’s a “good stats, bad team,” type-of player. However, over his last eight games, he’s averaging an absurd 35 points per game, which is quite the statement to show you’re deserving of a spot.
WC: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers. There are only a few clear contenders in the NBA right now, but the 76ers have had a fantastic start to this season. I wouldn’t take into account team records very highly this year when making selections, but the 76ers are an exception. Simmons is having a great season as he has established himself as a solid all-around player, though he will likely always be limited offensively.
Notable Snubs: Nikola Vucevic (Magic), Gordon Hayward (Hornets), Domantas Sabonis (Pacers), Bam Adebayo (Heat), Trae Young (Hawks), Tobias Harris (76ers), Jrue Holiday (Bucks).
Steve Dykes. USA TODAY Sports.
G: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. I’ll start by saying that Mitchell is definitely going to obtain a reserve spot. The Jazz are the only team aside from the 76ers where I would argue that team record comes into play, as the Jazz have absolutely scorched opponents at the start of this season. They boast a league-leading 25-6 record, which is a fantastic .806 winning percentage, and Mitchell is the face of this team.
G: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. One of my favorite players in the league, what Lillard has achieved this season without consistent availability from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkić is insane. One of the most clutch players of all time, expect Dame to get his due.
Ringo H.W. Chiu. AP Images.
FC: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. Gobert serves as the defensive anchor for the Jazz, while Mitchell does much of the heavy lifting on offense. This team reminds me of the Jazz teams of the 90’s, led by John Stockton and Karl Malone, in that they have two stars and multiple smart complementary players around them. Gobert is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year, so he should be an All-Star as well.
FC: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers. George has had a great rebound year after all of the “Playoff P” and “Pandemic P” memes. The Clippers are demonstrating that the Battle of LA is real, especially as the Lakers have been slipping, and George plays a large role in this discussion. I would be shocked if he were not an All-Star.
FC: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers. Davis’ production has slipped this year, as he has slid into a clear second option role behind the 36 year old LeBron James. Many expected him to take over this season as the number one option, but injuries and inconsistency have limited his production. Davis won’t play in the All-Star game this season, but he’s still deserving of a selection.
WC: Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns. People talk about LeBron James and his production at age 36, but not enough people discuss Chris Paul. The 35 year old “Point God” is averaging 16.5-4.5-8.5 for the 20-10 Suns in his 16th season in the league. Small, unathletic point guards aren’t supposed to age this well, but Paul is proving that he is very much capable of exceeding expectations.
WC: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns. If I were to write this article a week ago, I would have likely put De’Aaron Fox in this spot. But after the Kings’ 7 game losing streak, and the Suns’ push to the top of the Western Conference, I’ve changed my mind. Booker and Paul are still figuring out how to play with each other, but Booker is producing yet another productive season. And this time, he’s winning.
Injury Replacement (Anthony Davis): Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. With Anthony Davis being unable to play if selected for a Reserve spot, he will need to be replaced by an able-bodied frontcourt player. Who better than Williamson, whose game is perfectly designed for an All-Star Game? The Pelicans have underperformed this season under Stan Van Gundy (aside from embarrassing the Celtics of course), but Williamson has played great in his sophomore season. The 20 year old is averaging 24-7-3, and still has only played 53 games in his entire career. Unbelievable production from a player who can’t legally buy an alcoholic drink.
Notable Snubs: De’Aaron Fox (Kings), DeMar DeRozan (Spurs), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder), Brandon Ingram (Pelicans), Ja Morant (Grizzlies), Christian Wood (Rockets), Mike Conley (Jazz).
We’ll find out tonight how many of my picks are accurate, and fingers crossed that the Jay’s both make it.