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Predicting The All-Star Reserves – East

The NBA released the first wave of All-star Ballot results last week for the starters, so who should be the reserves?

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Updated 10 months ago on
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The NBA released the first wave of All-Star ballot results last week, so we have something of an idea of where the voters are leaning with regards to the Starters for the Eastern Conference.

Frontcourt Backcourt
1. LeBron James (Cle) 552,967 1. John Wall (Was) 299,209
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 265,170 2. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 265,917
3. Pau Gasol (Chi) 247,953 3. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 237,356
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 208,549 4. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 182,896
5. Kevin Love (Cle) 169,818 5. Derrick Rose (Chi) 105,465
6. Joakim Noah (Chi) 69,994 6. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 99,984
7. Marcin Gortat (Was) 57,715 7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 51,946
8. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 52,318 8. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 17,512
9. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 46,494 9. Louis Williams (Tor) 15,329
10. Al Jefferson (Cha) 43,230 10. Bradley Beal (Was) 13,911
11. Paul Pierce (Was) 35,197
12. Nikola Vucevic (Orl) 33,296
13. Paul Millsap (Atl) 21,545
14. Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 20,602
15. Andre Drummond (Det) 19,128

So who are the guys that could make it in as reserves?

We asked Jessica Camerato, Alex Kennedy, Nate Duncan, Moke Hamilton and Joel Brigham to make some early predictions on those players that should get the nod from the coaches.

Chris Bosh Chris Bosh Al Jefferson Derrick Rose Andre Drummond
Jimmy Butler* Jimmy Butler* Chris Bosh Jimmy Butler* Chris Bosh
Kevin Love* Kevin Love* Jimmy Butler* Kevin Love* Jimmy Butler*
Kyle Lowry* Kyle Lowry* Kevin Love* Kyle Lowry* Kevin Love*
Kyrie Irving* Kyrie Irving* Kyle Lowry* Kyrie Irving* Kyle Lowry*
Nikola Vucevic Nikola Vucevic Kyrie Irving* Marcin Gortat Kyrie Irving*
Paul Millsap Paul Millsap Paul Millsap Paul Millsap Nikola Vucevic

*=Denoted unanimous selection

We asked each of our writers to walk us through their voting process a bit:

Nate Duncan

For those unfamiliar with the process, the East coaches will vote for two backcourt reserves, three frontcourt reserves and two “wild card” choices that can play any position, with a prohibition on voting for their own player.

Bosh has missed some games, but he’s the best power player in the East and should be a starter over Gasol.  The latter has solid per game numbers, but has amassed those with somewhat lower efficiency than many realize. As a result, he has been essentially a neutral player in advanced plus/minus metrics, and should probably actually have his minutes reduced now that all the Bulls’ big men are healthy.

Some may protest Love’s inclusion, on the basis that the Cavs should not have three All-Stars because both they and Love himself have disappointed this year. But Love has been so good in past years that he deserves a spot in a relatively underwhelming East frontcourt.

Paul Millsap gets in from a Hawks team that has surprised.  He has maintained his production as he has aged by expanding his range while becoming a surprisingly adept defender.  It’s a tough call between Millsap, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague.  They all have relatively similar value by box score statistics, but Millsap ranks best in plus/minus metrics.  Horford struggled early in the year before picking it up of late, while Teague is so far above his established levels that one wonders whether he’s due for a dropoff.

Butler is listed in the frontcourt, since he generally closes at small forward and is better defending larger wings.

Jefferson has been the only bright spot for Charlotte, although his efficiency has been throttled by the lack of spacing provided by his teammates.  But Big Al should get in despite Charlotte’s disappointing year–he’s been the hub of that team for a year and a half now and really their only reliable source of offense.  However, his inclusion could change if he misses significant time with his recent groin injury.

The toughest omissions not yet mentioned were Amir Johnson (no, seriously, his screening and interior defense for Toronto is essential for the East’s best team), and Derrick Rose.  Rose has flashed All-Star form at times, but has missed too many games and has not quite been successful enough attacking the basket to get his numbers where they need to be.

Jessica Camerato

The irony of the East is that in a conference where teams are struggling, many of those playing at a high level are being overlooked. Let’s start with Kyle Lowry on the first-ranked Toronto Raptors. The undersized point guard is averaging 20.5 points, 7.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He ranked fourth among guards in the first returns and should be a lock.

Jimmy Butler has been having a breakthrough season stepping up while Derrick Rose has been injured. With 22.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 40.0 minutes per game, he is one of the main reasons the Bulls have had success in spite of Rose’s absences.

At 22-8, the Atlanta Hawks deserve to be represented in Brooklyn. In my vote, forward Paul Millsap (16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists) edges out Jeff Teague. Teague has posted worthy numbers, but there is a logjam in the backcourt.

While Anthony Davis is overshadowing all the bigs, the Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic is posting 18.1 points, 11.6 rebounds with a league-leading 18 double-doubles.

After LeBron James left for Cleveland, the Miami HEAT’s future was in question. Chris Bosh has bolstered his numbers to 21.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists to help carry the squad. On that topic, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are putting up solid numbers in spite of the Cavaliers’ struggles. Irving is averaging 20.2 points, 5.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds. Even though his stats are down, I can still see Love (17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds) making the team. Yes, that leaves Rose off the list. He has missed one-third of the Bulls’ games this season, which makes it hard to put him ahead of others here. That, of course, can change as the weeks go on. If he can stay healthy, he could still earn a spot.

Joel Brigham

If Derrick Rose doesn’t get a starting nod—and it doesn’t look like he will—Chicago will end up with the two players in the game that deserve to be in the game, and kudos to the fans for getting it right by making John Wall the top vote-getter among East guards instead of Rose (at least through the first ballot returns). There’s just no way to justify Rose and Noah with Gasol and Butler already in.

The Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, deserve an All-Star and very well could have Jeff Teague or Paul Millsap represent the conference rather than Drummond or Vucevic, but those latter two guys are having such profoundly excellent seasons that I think they’ll get in despite their teams’ bad records.

Drummond especially is on the rise, and by the time voting ends he will likely have strung together several utterly dominant weeks.

As for Al Jefferson, his numbers are a little down this year pretty much across the board, which is why I gave Vucevic the nod over him as a wild card pick.

Snubs: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson, Brandon Knight

Moke Hamilton

Each year, All-Star anointment and snubs are among the hottest discussion items. That’s understandable when dealing with such a subjective designation.

Personally, I abide by one simple rule with my seven reserve spots: I refused to nominate a player on a losing team. If the fans want to vote Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade in, that’s fine by me, just don’t expect me to nominate Al Jefferson.

As for the other three assumed starters—LeBron James, John Wall and Pau Gasol—it was as impossible to take issue against any of them as it was to vote against Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler or Paul Millsap, so with those three, I began with my reserves.

Things got a little tricky once I considered that three front court reserves must be on the roster, and the dearth of talented front court players on winning teams made it tough. Almost by default, I found myself putting Kevin Love in. I had a tough time choosing Marcin Gortat over Jonas Valanciunas but went with Gortat because of his slightly better numbers.

I then had two guard spots left that eventually went to Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose, but I gave strong consideration to shoving one of them out for Brandon Knight. The Bucks are this year’s Phoenix Suns and Knight is the catalyst. He is worth an honorable mention, at least.

In the end, with my guard conundrum, I opted for star power and talent, but still chose players from winning teams.

The Cavaliers probably don’t “deserve” to have three in and the Bucks perhaps should have one, but it is difficult to justify putting Knight in ahead of either Irving or Rose.

Alex Kennedy

I have two first-time All-Stars making the East team in Jimmy Butler and Nik Vucevic. Both players are having breakout seasons and emerging as their team’s most important player. Butler seems like a lock to make the team, but Vucevic will have a tougher time getting in.

Coaches love Joakim Noah and all the ways he impacts a game, so Noah may get the nod for the third straight year instead of Vucevic even though his numbers are down.

Kyle Lowry should’ve made it last year and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get selected this year, especially with how well he’s playing and Toronto leading the East.

I have Kyrie Irving, Paul Millsap and Chris Bosh making the team once again, just like last year.

I debated whether to leave Kevin Love off, since Cleveland has disappointed and his numbers haven’t been as impressive as in years past. I ultimately decided to include him because there wasn’t an obvious forward to replace him and I think coaches will still pick him and understand that his numbers are down because he’s making sacrifices as he adjusts to a new supporting cast in Cleveland. Still, he’s not a guaranteed lock like he has been throughout his career.

My biggest snubs were probably Joakim Noah, Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose, but I couldn’t justify including them over the players I picked.

Balloting concludes on Monday, Jan. 19. Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 22 with the 64th NBA All-Star Game tipping off Sunday, Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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