With all-star voting now open, there’s never been a better time to predict this year’s all-stars. In these selections winning played a role, but an individual’s play was far more important. Predicting who will be an East All-Star starter may be easier than the predicting West’s starters, but it’s still worthwhile to take a look. Here they are:
G – Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics
Season Stats: 23.1 PPG (49/41/85), 6.6 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.6 SPG
Although his team hasn’t lived up to expectations, Kyrie has not disappointed. His points per game may be down slightly, but he is still making massive contributions to the offense. Kyrie is averaging a career-high 6.6 assists per game and 1.3 offensive rebounds per game. His 1.3 offensive rebounds a game is behind only Ben Simmons and ties Russell Westbrook for 2nd among point guards. Also, Kyrie’s efficiency has been incredible. Among eastern conference guards averaging 20+ PPG, Kyrie has the best eFG% and it’s not even close. This season Kyrie has a 56.2 eFG%, second best is Bradley Beal with a 52.7 eFG%. In addition to this, Kyrie is the most established among all the Eastern Conference guards. Every year besides 2015-16 when he struggled with injuries and his rookie season, Kyrie has been an all-star and this season should be no different.
G – Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
Season Stats: 25.4 PPG (44/36/82), 5.8 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, and Jimmy Butler have all been amazing this season, but there’s no way I can’t give Kemba this selection. He is having the best offensive season of his career while being stranded in Charlotte. His 25.4 points and 3.2 threes made per game are both career highs and he’s shooting just 0.4% lower than his career-high FG%. In addition to his new career-highs, Kemba has had milestones NBA fans can’t ignore. Against Philidelphia, Walker had 60 of his teams 119 points. He single-handedly outscored his entire team. Big games like that have earned Kemba his proper recognition and should be enough to propel him as an all-star starter.
F – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Season Stats: 26.5 PPG (59/18/70), 12.6 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.3 SPG. 1.6 BPG
This selection should be the most obvious. I believe Giannis will not only be selected as a starter, but he will be the Eastern Conference captain. He has been by far the best player on the 2nd best team in the NBA. His play is what has made them so good. Although his 3-point shot didn’t improve, Giannis is unstoppable on offense. Now that his team is full of shooters, he’s shooting nearly 80% around the basket. Not Lebron nor the elite centers, such as Anthony Davis or Joel Embiid, shoot nearly that well around the rim. Giannis has also had an incredible season defensively. He’s averaging a career-high in defensive rebounds and anchors the 3rd best defense in the NBA.
F – Kawhi Leonard – Toronto Raptors
Season Stats: 27.2 (50/36/85), 7.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG
After his strange injury last season, Leonard has regained his spot as a top 10 player. He has continued to be an elite two-way player, but his offense has stood out this year. He is averaging a career high in points while remaining extremely efficient. This incredible offensive effort has led the Raptors to the best record in the East, and the NBA. Being the headline of the biggest trade this offseason, Kawhi had plenty of expectations and questions surrounding him. It’s safe to say he has fulfilled, if not surpassed, every expectation and answered every question fans had about his return. His play should leave no question whether or not he deserves a starting spot in this year’s all-star game.
F – Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Season Stats: 26.9 PPG (48/30/80), 13.5 RPG, 1.9 BPG
The best center in the East and a fan favorite, Joel Embiid is a lock to be an all-star starter. In his first season being truly healthy Embiid has been unstoppable. He’s 7th in the NBA in scoring, 7th in blocks, and 3rd in rebounds. He does everything a team would want their center to do. Also, his post game is arguably the best in the NBA. His size and footwork make him a nightmare matchup for other big men. He’s had 17 30+ point games and 4 40+ point games, no other big man, besides Anthony Davis, can put up scoring nights like that.
Not only is he a nightmare on offense but he should be a defensive player of the year candidate. The Sixers may only be ranked 12th in defensive rating, but when Embiid is on the court the opponents offensive rating drops 6.4 points. His impact on both ends of the court should be more than enough to earn Embiida spot as an all-star starter in the East.
Who are your Eastern All-Star Starters?