Who should make the West’s bench at the 72nd Annual All-Star Game?
With the 10 starters confirmed to start in Salt Lake City, the debate over the NBA All-Star Game is now about who’s going to fill the bench spots. Who should complete the 14 spaces for the widely expected game in Utah? The answer will probably depend on who you’re asking, but here at Basketball Insiders we believe to know who’s best to fill the bench.
At this moment in time, it seems really hard to choose only 14 players, and even harder considering they are divided by positions and then, distributed in two conferences. So, this special report will be based on the Western Conference, so we can really dig up their stats and find the best suitors.
The 2023 #NBAAllStar Team Captains!#TeamLeBron#TeamGiannis
TNT will air the 2023 NBA All-Star Draft as a new, live pregame segment at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 pm ET from Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. pic.twitter.com/uVrcB2h1Am
— NBA (@NBA) January 27, 2023
Before we start a little reminder we need three guards, two frontcourt players and two wild cards. With LeBron James as captain, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson and Nikola Jokic as starters for the West, who should replace them on court during the All-Star Game?
Here are our nominees:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
After a rollercoaster of past injuries, Shai has been in good health all throughout the season and we can finally see he is truly fit for an All-Star selection. His new-found level has given Oklahoma City the chance of dreaming to make the playoffs this campaign, as they are currently giving up a fight at the West’s 10th place.
The Canadian base guard is now within the highest scorers of the tournament and on his way to register the best scoring average in the Thunder’s history for a third time in a row with 30.8.
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Even though an injury had Anthony Davis sidelined for the last 20 games, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he was probably the league’s best player before it happened. We could even think that he’d be a definite All-Star starter if not for his right ankle issue.
Anthony Davis looks good in return #nba #lakers pic.twitter.com/aW1ABaeDtW
— Down To The Wire 513 (@DTTW513) January 27, 2023
The 29 year old seems to be finding his best version playing basketball, elevating his shot efficiency to a career-high 61,5% when shooting for two-pointers, and 29.4% when shooting from beyond the arc. Let’s just be glad the big guy came back to action this week and hopefully see him in Salt Lake City on February 19th.
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Everyone thought Ja Morant deserved to be a starter for this All-Star Game, but when you come to think about it, he was competing for the guard position against two superstars of the game such as Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry. However, the fact he’s not a starter doesn’t mean he isn’t undergoing the best performances of his career so far as a Grizzly.
Morant isn’t just duplicating his scoring stats from the 2021/22 campaign, he is improving his playmaking qualities, an area of the game he wasn’t too accustomed to. The guard is averaging eight assists with 20 points produced because of them, one of the league’s finest stats.
Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz
The first wild card we decided to choose was Lauri Markkanen, who is probably the biggest candidate to winning the award for the player who’s progressed the most this season. After some high and los with the Bulls and Cavs, seems like the Finnish giant has finally awakened to become the leader that Utah so desperately needed.
The 25-year-old has surprised all, as no one would expect him to accomplish the stats he is dropping this championship. The Jazz star has now jumped 10 points in regards to last year’s average score (to 24.8), and shooting a precise 43% from the three-pointer and 59.1% from inside the arc.
Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings
The man who’s responsable for Sacramento’s resurgence is none other than Domantas Sabonis, changing the course of who used to be one of the worst franchises in the NBA for the past 20 years. The last time the Kings were in the playoffs was in 2006, and it seems the in only Sabonis’ first year in California he will be able to take Sacramento back to where they’ve aspired for so long, as they rank 3rd in the West.
Our choice for the West’s All-Star bench is more than deserved as the Lituanian has produced an average of 18.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists per game, so far.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Although his season started on a tough spot and not until lately it has been on the rise, the Portland guard is still one of the West’s stars. Just this week, he scored 60 points with a historic efficiency, becoming the second player to have two 50+ point games, only behind Luka Doncic’s three.
Damian Lillard is in ELITE company 📈 pic.twitter.com/3SGVTKHVoA
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 26, 2023
Lillard is steady on his way to enter the Top 5 list of players with most triple-pointers this season, in No.6, as he finds his best version after recovering from his last injury with the Trail Blazers.
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
We had to think a lot about who’d be in the seventh bench spot for the West’s All-Star Game. This wild card is a player who’s performances are constantly judged, just as he has his surprising quality, like a lottery ticket who can win it all in the last moment. This is Paul George, one of the few constant figures to contribute to the Los Angeles Clippers’ success story.
If he keeps defending the way he’s done historically, we believe he truly is the seventh best substitute for this clash of titans in Salt Lake City.
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