The Celtics are in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference and have three players averaging over 20 points per game. So do they deserve three All Stars? On one hand, the answer seems simple and straightforward. Yes! On the other hand, the more nuanced question is “will they get 3 All Stars” and the answer is likely “it depends on who else gets in.”
First let’s take a look at the resumes of each player. I think it is safe to say that Kemba Walker is universally considered a lock at this point, so I’m just going to skip him.
Jayson Tatum seems to have fulfilled the promise that he showed in his rookie season. Earlier this month Adam Taylor took an extended look at Tatum’s progression:
This Tatum, the evolved Tatum, is doing almost everything right on the floor. Patient on offense he sets up defenders over the course of multiple plays and he makes the extra pass when required. His improvements span to the defensive end too, with 15 blocks and 30 steals over his first 21 games of the season. He closes out passing lanes and uses his length to disrupt shots.
Likewise, Jaylen Brown has added to his game and pressed forward with his development. Jeremy Stevens took a look at Jaylen’s chances earlier this month as well.
Twenty point scorers who can create shots and play defense are rare enough that Jaylen would belong in the top-30 discussion if he can sustain his current level of production for an entire season.
And while the NBA feels more balanced this season, the East is terribly thin on All-Star power compared to the West, which means some borderline players will inevitably get in.
Which brings me to my next point. Outside of the lock players, who gets in depends on how many bubble players there are. There are, after all, only 12 roster spots to go around.
CBS Sports already took a look at this and named the following players “locks” for selection:
Bradley Beal, Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, and Pascal Siakam. My only quibble with that list is that I’m not sure I’d call Simmons a lock yet. With that said, he’s very likely getting the nod so it doesn’t make sense to split hairs.
So, that’s seven All Stars already, leaving just 5 additional spots available. CBS names the following as “likely” selections: Trae Young, Bam Adebayo, and Khris Middleton. Again, debatable but fairly reasonable. If we accept those names (or even replace them with others), that leaves just 2 spots available.
At this point I should probably note that Kyrie Irving might get voted in and if he’s healthy he might just play in the game. I’m also assuming that Gordon Hayward has missed too much time to be a realistic option.
You can see how things start to get squeezed. Other names (in addition to Tatum and Brown) that should be considered include: Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Drummond, Fred VanVleet, Malcolm Brogdon, and Domantas Sabonis.
Debate those names all you want (and you are encouraged to do so in the comments section!) but it is very likely that some very good players having very good seasons will be left off. And yes, this is the part where you will likely reply that it is an “All Star” game, not a game of the “really goods.”
So what say you? Do you think both Tatum and Brown will make the team? Or will they be “snubbed” (or knocked out by someone more deserving)? For extra points, list your 12 man roster below.
(note: you can officially vote for All Stars here)