Last night, the NBA All-Star reserves were announced. The starters were announced last week. Here are the teams.
In the East, we have LeBron James, Giannis Antetokumpo, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Demar DeRozan, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love, and Al Horford.
The West, meanwhile, consists of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, Karl Anthony-Towns, Damian Lillard, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I agree with all of these selections except for one in each conference. In the East, I would have taken Andre Drummond, and in the West, I would have taken Paul George. Now, since I am adding a player, I need to remove one in each conference. In the East, I would take out John Wall, and in the West, I would take out Damian Lillard.
Here is the case for Drummond. He is having his best season of his career and has rounded out his game. Drummond is now shooting 62 percent from the free throw line after shooting 40 percent for his career. He also is averaging 3.9 assists per game after only averaging one a game before. He is doing his usual Drummond thing by leading the league in rebounding with 15 rebounds per game. Drummond is also averaging 14.3 points per game on 54 percent shooting. His defense is not elite, but he is averaging 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks.
Drummond also has a 23.88 player efficiency, which is 18th best in the league. John Wall, on the other hand, has a 19.40 PER, which is 48th in the league. Also, Wall has missed two weeks with an injury, while Drummond hasn’t missed a game. Wall is a better player when 100 percent and engaged, but this year, he is having a down year and Drummond has been better. Drummond also has a higher real plus-minus than Wall this year, meaning he has been more impactful while he is on the court.
Now to the West, where the battle between George and Lillard is a close one. Honestly, I get the Lillard vote, but here is the case for George. For the season, George is averaging 20.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, three assists, 2.1 steals on 43 percent shooting from the field, and 42 percent from deep. Lillard is averaging 25.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, one steal on 43 percent shooting, and 36 percent shooting from the field.
Lillard averages more points and assists, but George has the edge in rebounds and steals. They shoot the same from the field, but George shoots better from three. Like Wall, Lillard also gets dinged a bit for missing time. He missed seven games this season compared to only three for George. Then there is the whole defense thing, where George separates himself. George likely will be on the all-NBA defensive team this season. RPM recognizes his actual value as George is 30th in RPM, while Lillard isn’t even in the top 50.
Lillard is the No. 1 option on his team and has a higher PER, but a big part of that is his higher usage rate. Lillard has been efficient and is the better scorer, but George has been as efficient and is a mile ahead on defense. To me, it’s a two-way game, and Lillard being slightly better on offense doesn’t give him enough of an edge over George.
Last year, Lillard was more deserving, so maybe this a makeup call. Either way, I am okay with the selection; I just would have preferred George due to his incredible defensive season combined with his efficient offensive numbers. Congratulations to Lillard, though, on his first all-star appearance; George has made four in his career.
Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, Karl Anthony-Towns are also making their first all-star appearances. All are well deserved. I just wish Drummond was on that list as well. Let’s just hope the new All-Star draft leads to a more competitive game finally.