The NBA gives fans a say in who starts the All-Star Game. The league counter balances that by having its head coaches pick the seven All-Star reserves from each conference.
The 10 starters for the game, in Charlotte’s Spectrum Center Feb. 17, were announced on TNT Jan. 24. TNT will announce the reserves Thursday night (7 p.m.) on its pre-game show.
The seven reserves each from the East and West include two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players regardless of position. Here are my picks, plus my thinking for each conference:
Guards: Washington’s Bradley Beal and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. Frontcourt players: Detroit’s Blake Griffin, Orlando’s Nic Vucevic and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton.
Other two players, regardless of position: Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (injured) and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons.
Injury replacement candidates: Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell and Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler.
Reasoning: In a close decision, I tend to nod to the player on a winning team. The only player of those seven not on a winning team is Magic center Vucevic, and he’s been great individually (20.2 points and 12 rebounds per game this season). Oladipo suffered a season-ending leg injury, which will open a spot for another player in the East to come to Charlotte.
Guards: Portland’s Damian Lillard and Golden State’s Klay Thompson. Frontcourt players: New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Denver’s Nikola Jokic and San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge.
Other two players, regardless of position: Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Utah’s Rudy Gobert.
Injury replacement candidates: Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, LA Clippers’ Tobias Harris and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell.
Reasoning; I would have been for Jokic and Anthony as Western Conference starters. All the fine players outside that top seven in the West - add Dallas rookie Luka Doncic to that list - reflects how much deeper that conference is than the East.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell