The Eastern and Western Conference All-Star reserves are set in stone. As always, critics are talking about who is selected, and more importantly, who is not selected. Who was left out of being an all-star in the Eastern Conference?
Sources: 2021 NBA All-Star reserves:
West: Chris Paul, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis
East: James Harden, Julius Randle, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Zach LaVine, Ben Simmons, Nikola Vucevic
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 23, 2021
Either he or Jimmy Butler are fair arguments, but having one player from a team that’s 14-17 is probably the limit for the all-star pool. In that case, Bam Adebayo makes more sense to be the all-star here.
Bam has played 29 of the 31 games the Miami Heat have played this season. He averages 19.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game this season, with his averages in points and assists standing as career highs. He has been extremely efficient too, shooting 57% from the field, over 84% from the charity stripe, and a 63.7% true shooting percentage.
Adebayo is also keeping the same consistent, rim-protector character that NBA fans know him to be. He is recording a 2.0 defensive box plus/minus and has 1.5 win shares on the season, which ranks him top-10 in both of those categories.
The Heat have had their struggles with injuries this season, but Adebayo is a big reason for their recent success, winning their last four games with a double-double in each contest.
It’s no question that the Indiana Pacers are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, even while standing at a .500 record. Who accounts for their success? Domantas Sabonis has a huge part of the team’s success.
Sabonis is averaging a double-double every night, with averages of 21.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game this season. He is shooting well from the field at 52.8%, 35.8% from three, and 71% from the free-throw line. He ranks 29th in points, seventh in rebounds, and second in assists for power forwards.
There’s a lot to like about Sabonis because he fits the mold of a “point center,” or a big man that can pass and shoot while making an impact in the post. His defense is average, but he does enough to hold up for the fact that he should be an all-star.
The fact that the Pacers, while they have struggled recently, are still one of the best teams in the Eastern conference gives heavy support to the fact that Sabonis should be an all-star. Without Victor Oladpio and their newly acquired Caris LeVert, Sabonis has been a major factor to keep their team afloat.
Sabonis is the only player averaging 20 points, ten rebounds, and five assists who is not an all-star. There are four players this season averaging those numbers, and Sabonis is the only one left off the all-star list.
It’s hard to say that an Eastern Conference all-star starter, just one year ago, should not be an all-star reserve this season. Trae Young is still one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA and is the clear leader of the Atlanta Hawks team.
Young is averaging 27 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 9.6 assists per game this season. His shooting is controversial, putting up 43% off of 18 shots per game, and 37% from three. However, those percentages are extremely similar to those of last season, when he was an all-star. Young is the only player in the top-ten of scoring that is not an all-star this season.
There are solid arguments against Young. He is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. Young has posted a negative defensive box plus/minus his entire career, has minimal defensive win shares, and represents the 438th ranked defensive rating in the NBA.
The Atlanta Hawks are also not improving after making leaps in the offseason, with additions like Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Kris Dunn. They remain 14-18 on the season, 1.5 games out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. But, the argument can be made with Nikola Vučević, who is an all-star with a team record of 13-19.
Either way, it’s interesting to see that the league left one of the best scorers out of the NBA all-star game. Young is one of the best scorers in the NBA while knowing he has the ability to facilitate for others and make his teammates better too.
Who should be replaced?
The argument for a replacement must be made after the argument for a snub in the all-star game. Ben Simmons makes a case for being undeserving of an all-star selection this season.
Simmons is averaging 15.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. Simmons ranks 50th in points per game this season and is the third-leading scorer on his team. He shoots well from the field at 56.7%, but NBA fans know all too well Simmons is restricted to scoring near the basket and no further.
The problem with Simmons is that he is surrounded by a possible MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, and an arguable NBA all-star, Tobias Harris. The Philadelphia 76ers are a great team and the best in the Eastern Conference, but how much does Simmons have to do with it?