The 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend is just a fortnight and some days away, and last week, the NBA revealed the 10 starters, with a notable surprise in the form of Andrew Wiggins landing among the trio of Western Conference frontcourt players. But the dialogue continues till the NBA announces the reserves in both conferences on Thursday, February 3.

The five starters from the East are Brooklyn Net’s Kevin Durant (captain), Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid in frontcourt, along with Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan and Atlanta Hawk’s Trae Young. The West starts LeBron James as Captain, alongside Nikola Jokic of Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors’ duo of Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins and debutante, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies.

 

WHO MAKES THE CUT?
The league coaches will vote on the seven reserves for each side and the format is crucial. Two reserve guards must be chosen from each conference, with three reserve frontcourt players and two “wild card” choices that can come from any position. There is positional guidance from the All-Star voting ballot itself but, for the most part, it is open season and creative results are possible.

This article attempts to lay out the candidate pools for each of the Conferences, with the coaches doing the rest in the coming days. Seven players would be chosen from the West, but eight players are to be chosen from the East since it is highly likely that Kevin Durant will not feature in the All Star Game proper, no thanks to injury.

EAST RESERVES (PROBABLE)

  • Jarrett Allen
  • LaMelo Ball
  • Jimmy Butler
  • James Harden
  • Zach LaVine
  • Khris Middleton
  • Fred VanVleet
  • Jayson Tatum

With Kevin Durant expected to sit, Tatum gets the nod. But you could also make the argument for Middleton to go out with the starting five. Tatum has not been the model for efficiency, but he is still top 10 in the NBA per scoring. Ball’s selection will probably surprise some, but this kid and his game are built for the All-Star stage.

VanVleet is an underdog, who earned his way into the league and into a starring role after Kyle Lowry’s departure. He has also grinded his way into All-Star recognition. Allen and Butler are arguably the most important players on their respective teams, which by the way, rank first and fourth, respectively, in the East.

WEST RESERVES (PROBABLE)

  • Devin Booker
  • Chris Paul
  • Luka Doncic
  • Draymond Green
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Karl-Anthony Towns

The two best players, Booker and Paul, on the league’s hottest team should expectedly be on this squad and as elated as some folks are with Andrew Wiggins’ starter’s berth, Green is, without a doubt, the Warrior that should be in the starting line-up for the West All-Star team.

Mitchell has missed seven games due to a concussion, and while there are whispers about a deteriorating relationship with Gobert as the team continues to slump, the former can flat out put on a show, while the latter is the lynchpin to Utah’s success defensively. For Towns, he is putting up numbers nearly identical to his 2018-19 All-Star season, and Doncic has pretty much carried Dallas on its current hot streak.

 

PUTTING SQUARE PEGS IN SQUARE HOLES

There is a feeling that some supposedly deserving players could  get snubbed by selectors come Thursday evening, February 3.

The NBA allotting fans the leeway to select the starters is proving to be exactly not the best move, as it is indicative of a popularity contest. Be that as it may, their (fans) votes only play a role in 10 of the 24 players, but one can not shake away the fact that their power at the polls still results in a number of snubs each year.

Recall that despite making the roster for an injured Anthony Davis last year, Devin Booker did not initially make the Western Conference All-Star team. And in 2020, Kemba Walker was a starter among Eastern Conference guards while Bradley Beal, who averaged over 30.0 points that season, did not make the team at all.

Hopefully, coaches would give the nod to guys who put in the work, earned their stripes and help lift their teams out of difficult hoop situations, as a playing chance in the All Star Game is the reward that will suffice for their sterling efforts.