With the Thursday announcement of NBA All-Star reserves, the player pool for February’s game is set.
Of course, there are snubs.
Seven players from each conference were added to the player pool of 10 starters already announced. The 14 players announced on Thursday were selected by coaches while starters were chosen by a collective vote of fans, players and media.
Here is the breakdown of players from each conference.
Eastern Conference reserves
Jimmy Butler (F, Miami Heat), Domantas Sabonis (C, Indiana Pacers), Jayson Tatum (F, Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (G, Philadelphia 76ers), Khris Middleton (F, Milwaukee Bucks), Kyle Lowry (G, Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (C, Miami Heat)
Western Conference reserves
Chris Paul (G, Oklahoma City Thunder), Damian Lillard (G, Portland Trail Blazers), Nikola Jokic (C, Denver Nuggets) , Brandon Ingram (F, New Orleans Pelicans), Rudy Gobert (C, Utah Jazz), Russell Westbrook (G, Houston Rockets), Donovan Mitchell (G, Utah Jazz)
Who got snubbed?
There are some glaring omissions. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker sits at the top of that list.
The fourth-year Phoenix Suns guard is in the midst of a stellar season, averaging 27.1 points, 6.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds. And this isn’t volume-shooting production. Booker’s hitting a remarkable 51 percent of his field-goal attempts as a guard while sinking 36.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Suns have improved behind Booker’s lead
He’s lifted the Suns to a 20-27 start while operating mostly without the services of second-year center Deandre Ayton, who served a 25-game banned-substance violation to start the season.
While 20-27 might not sound great on the surface, it’s impressive considering the team’s 19-63 finish last season and that the Suns have gotten there largely without the services of their star second-year center.
Karl-Anthony Towns — Booker’s college teammate at Kentucky — shared his thoughts on Twitter.
KAT left out
Speaking of Towns. The Minnesota Timberwolves center will be absent from the official proceedings in Chicago as well. The two-time All-Star is averaging 26.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 blocks while hitting a remarkable 3.4 3-point attempts per game at a 41.2 percent clip as a 6-foot-11 center.
Coaches appear to be penalizing Towns for service time as he’s played in 30 of Minnesota’s 47 games. Minnesota’s 15-32 start probably isn’t helping.
Beal’s 28.6 ppg not good enough
In the East, Bradley Beal is off to a scorching start, averaging 28.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field. But he won’t make his third straight All-Star appearance.
According to Elias, that would mark the highest scoring average entering an All-Star break in 41 years that didn’t earn an All-Star bid.
“I’m a little pissed off about it,” Beal said after Thursday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets. “... It’s disrespectful. But the real ones know.”
The Wizards, dealing with a multitude of injury problems, are off to a 16-31 start.
It seems coaches are valuing winning over individual excellence for the All-Star Game this year.
So who gets cut, then?
Of course, if we’re calling out snubs, we have to recommend some players to jettison to open up roster spots.
Kyle Lowry’s having another nice season, averaging 19.8 points, 7.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds a game while shooting 41 percent from the field, but he can easily be replaced by Beal.
In the West, it’s tough to omit Chris Paul as he’s helped lead the Oklahoma City Thunder into surprising playoff contention. But his 17.1 points, 6.5 assists and five rebounds per game pale in comparison to Booker’s line. He’s a legacy selection.
In the post, it’s tough to boot Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert or Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who are both having excellent seasons and have missed a combined two games for two of the West’s top teams.
And coaches probably didn’t want to see Gobert in tears again.
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