Celtics

Karalis: Selecting the NBA All-Star reserves, where emotion sometimes trumps reason

Getty Images photo

The NBA is putting on an All-Star game, but whether we agree with their plan or not, it shouldn’t take away from the honor of a player being named an All-Star. The starters were announced last Thursday night on TNT. 

EAST

Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)
Guards: Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn), Bradley Beal (Washington)

WEST

Frontcourt: LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Nikola Jokic (Denver), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers)
Guards: Steph Curry (Golden State), Luka Doncic (Dallas)

Seven reserves for each side, selected by the coaches, will be announced later tonight. There are a lot of worthy candidates this year, so any list of reserves will be met with scrutiny and debate. However, each team only has 12 spots and five have been filled. Someone is going to be left off. 

So let’s start the fights! 

Here are my choices for All-Star reserves.

SUBSCRIBE WITH COUPON CODE 'KARALIS' FOR $5 OFF AN ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION

WEST

Damian Lillard (Portland), Devin Booker (Phoenix), Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Rudy Gobert (Utah), Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers), Mike Conley (Utah), Anthony Davis* (Lakers)

*Injury replacement: Zion Williamson (New Orleans)

Lillard, Mitchell, and Gobert are locks. There’s no conceivable world where those three don’t make it. Lillard is climbing the MVP ladder and Mitchell/Gobert are leading the Jazz to the top of the NBA. 

I was close to omitting George altogether because he hasn’t played enough games to qualify for any of the official leader charts yet. However, his regular-season numbers are just out of this world and I can’t leave him off. You can make whatever jokes you want about “Playoff P,” this is about the regular season and he’s having a great one. 

Now it gets fun, and this is where the voting comes down to personal preference. Hell, some of this might even come off as hypocritical, but it’s the All-Star game, and we don’t have to have everything make sense.

Booker is on and Chris Paul is off. There are certainly arguments to be made for this to be the other way around. Phoenix probably deserves a couple of All-Stars and it’s hard to pick between the two to accomplish what I want to accomplish. 

So what’s my tiebreaker? I just want to see Booker in the game more than I want to see Paul. The advanced stats favor CP3, my eyes and heart want to see Booker in the game. He’s deserving of the spot, and Paul is already a 10-time All-Star. Highlight the young guy and the future of the franchise. 

Ok, now let me contradict myself. 

I need Conley to get at least one All-Star appearance in his life and this is probably his last chance. It’s insane to me that he hasn’t, and we need to correct this travesty. And I want to do it by selecting him outright, not making him an injury replacement. 

Williamson will be the injury replacement for Davis, and I don’t care about that distinction with Zion because it’s the first of probably a dozen selections and by the end no one will care. 

I don’t want the only one of Conley’s underrated career to come with an asterisk. I feel like this argument is asterisk enough. The numbers support him earning the honor. The best team in the NBA getting three All-Stars is not out of the question and the on-off numbers show Conley is a key to Utah’s success. 

De’Aaron Fox, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are having better individual seasons. I admit that. I’m also comfortable in their All-Star futures, so I’m voting with my heart here and getting Conley into this game. 

Snubs: De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City), Chris Paul (Phoenix), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans), DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio), Christian Wood (Houston)

EAST