The ten starting players will be as follows:
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
- James Harden, Houston Rockets
- Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
- Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
- Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
- DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
- Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
One of the biggest controversies following the announcement will surely be the absence of Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, who is in the MVP discussion but will not be a starter in the Western Conference.
Westbrook is bound to be a reserve but will start the All-Star Game on the bench despite averaging a triple-double this season. His 30.6 points (a league-high), 10.4 assists, and 10.6 rebounds per game have helped him lead the NBA with a 29.56 player efficiency rating, according to ESPN.com.
If Westbrook finished the season with the numbers he has put up to this point in the year, he would be the first player to finish a season averaging a triple-double since Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62.
Harden has been the other player in the perennial MVP conversation this season, so it makes sense that he is starting, but it may have made more sense to start Westbrook and Harden alongside each other.
Curry is averaging 24.6 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game; All-Star worthy numbers, but numbers that don’t surpass Westbrook’s phenomenal season.
What set Curry apart from Westbrook is the fact that he led the “fan vote” in the Western Conference and, fair or unfair, the fans were responsible for 50 percent of the vote in determining this year’s starters. Players made up 25 percent and media members made up the other 25 percent.
Harden, who finished second among Western Conference guards in the fan vote, is fewer than two rebounds per game shy of averaging a triple-double himself this season.
The rest of the All-Star starters out West (Leonard, Durant, and Davis) were no-brainers, although this was Davis’ first time being named a starter.
In the East, Irving and James are the only ones in the starting five that have been named a starter before.
Butler and DeRozan have been named reserves before, but superb years and some help from the fan vote gave them each well-deserved starting roles.
Antetokounmpo will be playing in his first All-Star Game all together, but a breakout season made it nearly impossible to leave him out of the starting five.
The 22-year-old is averaging 23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 1.8 steals per game, leading the Bucks in each category.
Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is scoring 28.7 points per game including a league-high 10.1 in the fourth quarter, made a strong case to start in this year’s Game, but he will most likely be a reserve this year.
The same can be said about Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, whose 28.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game were only a hair short of Davis’ numbers.
The 66th NBA All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 19, in New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center.