Eastern Conference play is about a quarter of the way done, which means a few things. It means that teams like Milwaukee and Miami are starting to find their groove. It means teams like New York and Cleveland are moving further away from a playoff spot. And finally it means that players are starting to emerge in the all star conversation. Today we are going to take a look at who those players are and why. Some players such as Giannis are obvious, but we also have quite a few first timers. So who should start and who should be a reserve based on their play this year?
Kemba Walker (4) – (21.9 PTS, 5.1 AST & 4.7 REB) Kemba should once again start for the Eastern conference. He has been the gold standard at the point guard position for the conference. Boston currently sits second in the East and Kemba is a huge reason why. He is the leader they need moving forward as Tatum and Brown continue to grow. Glad to finally see him on a team that wins games, while also getting to see him shine.
Bradley Beal (3) – (28.7 PTS, 7.2 AST & 4.4 REB) : The Washington Wizards may not be winning games, but Bradley Beal has been balling this year. The Wizards as a team are three games back of the eight seed. If it were not for Bradley Beal, they would likely be in last place. I wouldn’t normally like having a non-playoff team player starting, but this year was tough. Kyrie Irving has only played 11 games, Kyle Lowry has only played nine & Victor Oladipo has not played at all. Beal is the best second guard option for the Eastern Conference.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (4) – (31 PTS, 13.2 REB & 5.5 AST) Last year’s league MVP will definitely be an Eastern Conference starter this year, barring injury of course. Giannis has the Bucks sitting at the top of the East again as he continues to grow. Giannis is now shooting five threes per game, which shows he is expanding his offensive arsenal. This guy is a near lock to start, as he will likely be the highest vote receiver in the conference.
Pascal Siakam (1) – (25.1 PTS, 8.6 REB & 3.9 AST) The Most Improved Player last year has taken yet another step forward this year. Kawhi Leonard’s departure meant Pascal had to become the number one option. His field goal percentage is down, but all of his statistics are up outside of that. The Raptors have seen success despite no Kawhi Leonard, and Pascal is a huge reason why. Siakam will be an all star this year, and this writer hopes he gets a starting spot. It would be a travesty if Pascal Siakam is not an Eastern Conference starter.
Joel Embiid (3) – (22.4 PTS, 12.2 REB & 1.4 BLKS) It was slim pickings in the Eastern Conference at the center position. And while we do love Nikola Vucevic, it was clearly Joel Embiid who deserves to start. Embiid’s numbers are down from last year, but 20+ points and 10+ rebounds puts him in elite company at his position. Joel is still one of the most entertaining players in the league. It would be great if Joel played heavy minutes with the entire world watching this game.
Jimmy Butler (5) – (20.1 PTS, 6.5 AST & 6 REB) The Miami Heat have been the surprise team in the East this year. This is largely due to the play of their rookies and their marquee free agent signing Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Buckets has helped up the identity of this team, through his play and leadership. He is still one of the elite two way players in the game and deserves an all star nod.
Tobias Harris (1) – (18.4 PTS, 7.2 REB & 3.1 AST) This writer feels the all star nod should go to Tobias over Ben Simmons. Tobias has upped his game since joining at the deadline last year. He is second on the team in scoring and rebounding and has yet to miss a game all year. Philadelphia deserves a second all star, and while the media love Simmons, Tobias has been better.
Khris Middleton (2) – (17.4 PTS, 5.5 REB & 3.2 AST) It is pretty common for the top team in a conference to get at least two all stars. Middleton’s numbers have dipped a bit, but he is still an all star, at least in the East. Milwaukee would not have the same record without him and he should be rewarded for his play. He gets the slight edge in Milwaukee over Eric Bledsoe, but Khris Middleton should be a two-time all star.
Malcolm Brogdon (1) – (18.9 PTS, 7.9 AST & 4.9 REB) One of the front runners for the most improved player award deserves a reserve spot. Malcolm Brogdon left Milwaukee for Indiana and has thrived since he arrived. He went from a 15 point, 3 assist guy to a near 19 point, 8 assist player. Indiana is once again winning games without star player Victor Oladipo. They sit in the sixth spot and Brogdon should be an all star for leading them to that spot.
Andre Drummond (3) – (17.3 PTS, 16.8 REB & 3.2 AST) The Pistons currently do not hold a playoff spot, but Drummond has been a monster. Andre leads the league in rebounding and is shooting 54% from the field. If Blake Griffin had not missed the first number of games Detroit would likely be higher in the standings. No denying Drummond is leading this team and should play in the all star game.
Jayson Tatum (1) – (21 PTS, 7 REB & 2.8 AST) Another first timer on this list, Jayson Tatum has continued to elevate his game. He has been highly touted since being drafted and has become the second option in Boston. This would be Jayson’s first appearance, but certainly not his last. Boston deserves two all stars in the Eastern Conference and Tatum fits the bill.
Spencer Dinwiddie (1) – (20.8 PTS, 5.8 AST & 2.9 REB) Brooklyn has been without superstar Kyrie Irving for much of this season. That has not stopped the Nets from winning games though. Spencer Dinwiddie has stepped up in Kyrie’s absence to keep the Nets in the playoffs. His numbers are up from last year and the Nets are 7-3 without Kyrie. While Trae Young may have the stats Dinwiddie is winning games and leading from the front.
Trae Young – (28.7 PTS, 8.4 AST & 4 REB) This was the toughest player to judge for me. I love how Trae Young has been playing, but his team is really bad. They are really bad in the Eastern Conference too, which is hard to do. Trae Young fights every night to keep the John Collins-less Atlanta Hawks above water. But at the end of the day they have four wins so far. He dropped 49 points in a game and lost this year. He is a warrior, a future perennial all star, and a straight up stud. But he needs to at least be fighting for a playoff spot to make the all star team.
Zach Lavine (1) – (22.5 PTS, 4 REB & 3.9 REB) The Bulls are another team that are just on the outside looking in. Zach Lavine had one of the best games of the year when he hit thirteen three pointers against Charlotte. He has taken the next step towards being an elite scorer in this game. His numbers are great, but he just misses out due to lack of team success. He will be a future all-star, and could even make it this year if an injury occurs. But for now he is an honorable mention.
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