Infallible, snub-free NBA All-Star reserve selections

The NBA All-Star reserves are set to be announced Thursday night, but first, we’re sharing our snub-free picks.

About three weeks ago, I took an early stab at picking All-Star rosters for both conferences. Since then, plenty has changed with actual starters being revealed, injuries taking their toll and both hot and cold streaks making some subtle adjustments to player rankings. Before the actual reserves are announced Thursday night, I wanted to review the starter selections and share my, mistake-free, picks for the reserves.

Eastern Conference NBA All-Star starters

Guard: Kyrie Irving
Guard: Donovan Mitchell
front court: Kevin Durant
front court: Jayson Tatum
front court: Giannis Antetokounmpo

There were no real surprise inclusions here. I had Tyrese Haliburton in place of Kyrie Irving on my initial ballot but Haliburton has missed a lot of time. Voters also left Joel Embiid off in favor of Jayson Tatum, a reasonable approach to an impossible decision.

Given those starters and how things have changed over the past three weeks, here’s who I would pick for All-Star reserves.

Eastern Conference NBA All-Star reserves

Guard: Darius Garland
Guard: Tyrese Haliburton
Guard: James Harden
front court: Joel Embiid
front court: Pascal Siakam
front court: Jimmy Butler
front court: Julius Randle

There are some really tough choices here and I’m well aware that I’m leaving off Jaylen Brown, Trae Young, DeMar DeRozan, Bam Adebayo, Kristaps Porzingis, Jalen Brunson and a handful of other players with strong cases.

To me, Embiid and Siakam are no-brainers whose cases don’t really need elaboration. I would argue that Haliburton and Garland have been the second- and third-best guards in the East behind Mitchell and both are prodigious shot creators with impeccable shooting percentages. Harden is far from his peak but what he’s done this season, to me, still seems more valuable than Brown, Young, DeRozan or Brunson.

In the frontcourt, I opted for Butler and Randle over Porzingis and/or Adebayo. Randle has been an absolute beast, recovering some of the magic from two years ago. Butler’s season has been overshadowed by plenty of others but he’s still averaging 22.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and leading the league in steals per game.

Western Conference NBA All-Star starters

Guard: Steph Curry
Guard: Luka Doncic
front court: LeBron James
front court: Zion Williamson
front court: Nikola Jokic

Other than Steph Curry in for Ja Morant, this is the same group of starters I picked three weeks ago. The Curry inclusion is entirely defensible but things get even more difficult when you look at the reserves.

Western Conference NBA All-Star reserves

Guard: Ja Morant
Guard: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Guard: Damian Lillard
Guard: Anthony Edwards
front court: Domantas Sabonis
front court: Lauri Markkanen
front court: Paul George

Damian Lillard has been on an absolute tear the past few weeks and those big games and his historical legacy probably mean he steals a spot from De’Aaron Fox (who I included last time). There’s no argument for leaving Gilgeous-Alexander or Edwards off, especially with Devin Booker missing so much time.

I think Sabonis and Markkanen are locks (or should be) which leaves one more frontcourt spot. You can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis but they have all missed so much time. Aaron Gordon and Mikal Bridges have similar arguments but I go with Paul George, who has been slightly more available than Leonard or Davis and has been much more effective than Gordon or Bridges when he’s on the floor.

So, there you have it. Perfect, snub-free All-Star rosters.

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Check out the newest episode of The Step Back Podcast

Hosts Ethan Skolnick and Brady Hawk deep dive on All-Star rosters and share their picks for starters and reserves in the Western Conference. Subscribe to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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