All-Star Predictions: West Reserves

All-Star West Reserves

Deciding the West All-Star Reserves was easily the toughest of the three all-star predictions I’ve done (East Starters, West Starters, East Reserves). At the end of the article, you will see a long honorable mentions list of deserving players. I think anyone of those players could be all-stars, but the talent pool in the West is ridiculously deep. As a side note, Luka may end up being an all-star due to his dominance in the fan vote. Coaches and players likely respect him enough to throw him a few votes as well. Still, I didn’t include him in this list. His stats are great, but they’re not good enough to give him the edge over players who have played at or near an all-star level for years.

G – Russell Westbrook – OKC Thunder

Season Stats: 21.4 PPG (42/23/63), 10.8 RPG, 10.6 APG, 2.5 SPG

Say what you will about Westbrook’s various deficiencies, but this man can play. He is averaging a triple-double for the third straight year in a row while leading the league in assists. Additionally, his team is on pace to win 50+ games. Westbrook has also been an elite defender this year. He leads the NBA in steals and ranks 4th in defensive win shares and 3rd in defensive box plus/minus. His two-way impact and ability to do things beyond scoring (although he’s still averaging 20 PPG) to help his team win are extremely impressive.

G – Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers

Season Stats: 26.0 PPG (44/38/90), 6.1 APG, 1.0 SPG

Lillard has been one of the best scoring guards in the NBA season. This season, he trails only James Harden and Stephen Curry in points per games among guards. He has done this very efficiently while leading the Blazers to a top 4 seed in the brutal West. Although his field goal percentage might not look amazing, his eFG% and TS% are very good. Among guards, He is top 20 in eFG% at 52% and in the top 10 for TS% at 59%. Lillard’s dominant offensive game earns him a spot among the West All-Star Reserves.

F – Paul George – OKC Thunder

Season Stats: 26.7 PPG (45/38/83), 8.1 RPG, 2.2 SPG

Although Westbrook may be the heart and soul of the Thunder, George has led the team on both sides of the ball. He is experiencing his best scoring season on the second best shooting splits of his career while also carrying a big load on defense. He is second in the NBA in steals, 3rd in defensive win shares, and is getting considerable attention for defensive player of the year. As for his offensive game, George is ranked 8th in points per game and has been an extremely consistent scorer. He has scored in double-digits every game and scored under 17 points just once. Additionally, he has gone off for three 40-point games. George has been a true two-way superstar this season and very deserving of another All-Star selection.

F – Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets

Season Stats: 19.7 PPG (50/33/84), 10.2 RPG, 7.5 APG

If he gets selected this season, Nikola Jokic will finally have his first All-Star appearance. The 4th-year big man is having a career year and deserves some consideration as an all-star starter. Jokic has led the Nuggets to the best record in the West with numerous monster performances. So far this season Jokic has had a 40-10-8 game, 39-12-6 game, 35-11-11 game without missing a shot attempt, 29-11-10 performances, and many more incredible games. He leads all forwards and centers with 5 triple doubles on the season. His versatility makes him an easy choice to be a West All-Star reserve.

F – Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

Season Stats: 22.4 PPG (50/38/83), 12.6 RPG, 2.0 BPG

Despite the drama with the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns has had a great season. Arguably the most impressive stretch of the season for Towns has been the last 10 games. In that stretch, he’s averaging 27.5 PPG on 53-38-77 splits, 16.6 RPG (with a league-leading 5.1 ORPG), and 2.8 BPG. Besides his incredible offensive game, Towns’ dramatic defensive improvement has been more impressive. He is averaging a career-high in blocks and is ranked 13th in defensive win shares. Additionally, his team is also 2.1 points better on defense when he’s in the game. Everybody knows KAT can score, but now that he’s getting it done on defense his game has reached a whole new level.

G – DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs

Season Stats: 21.9 PPG (47/18/82), 6.4 APG, 1.0 SPG

The Spurs surprising success on offense, ranking 6th in offensive rating, has been largely due to the play of DeMar DeRozan. His scoring has still been elite but, more importantly, his playmaking has improved significantly. He is averaging an additional 1.2 more assists per game than last season. Additionally, the Spurs have been too good of a team not to have an all-star. They are 25-20 and less than 3 games away from the third seed in the West. Some may argue that LaMarcus Aldrige deserves the spot more than DeMar, but I disagree. LaMarcus Aldrige has been incredible as of late, but DeRozan has delivered throughout the entire season.

F – Tobias Harris – LA Clippers

Season Stats: 20.8 PPG (50/44/88), 8 RPG, 2.2 APG

Similar to DeMar DeRozan, Harris earns the final West All-Star Reserve spot due to his team’s success. The Clippers have been way better than anyone expected, and Harris has been responsible for that. I wrote an article on whether or not he would be an all-star (read here) and expressed my fear that he would miss it due to the voting system. Harris isn’t very flashy, so fewer fans pay attention to him, but his talent has been undeniable this season. He’s averaging over 20 points on near 50-40-90 splits, making him one of the most efficient volume scorers in the league. He’s already had multiple 30 point games this season and is the clear number one option on a team in the thick of the playoff race. I would have loved to give Devin Booker this final spot, but the fact that Phoenix is the only team in the West not competing for a spot makes his stats slightly less meaningful.

 

Honorable Mentions: Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, Klay Thompson, Danilo Gallinari, Derrick Rose, Steven Adams, Jamal Murray, Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, CJ McCollum

Leave a Reply