NBC Sports Boston's Eastern Conference All-Stars, post-Christmas edition
BOSTON -- NBA fans can now put their two cents for who will start in the All-Star Game with fan voting beginning on Christmas Day.
There will be plenty of updates and reminders to vote in the coming days.
Here’s a look at NBC Sports Boston’s picks for the Eastern Conference All-Star team:
Starting guard: Kemba Walker, Boston
Why Kemba? For starters, he is the best scorer on a team that has been among the Eastern Conference’s top three for most of the season. Along with averaging 22.6 points, Walker is shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range which is better than any player in the NBA who has taken as many 3-point attempts per game (9.2) as Walker.
Starting guard Jimmy Butler, Miami
Why Jimmy? He has consistently been among the league’s best two-way players, but we’ve seen him do something this year that isn’t the norm for him - making the guys around him better. Butler is a tough, get-it-done-or-else kind of player and that brand of leadership has trickled down to his teammates, allowing Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson to emerge out of nowhere to play critical roles, along with Butler himself, in the team’s unexpected rise in the Eastern Conference standings.
Starting forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
Why Giannis? He’s the reigning league MVP whose biggest flaw - shooting 3’s - isn’t quite as big a problem now as it has been in past years with him shooting 32.7 percent beyond the 3-point line this season. Look for Antetokounmpo to once again be among the league leaders in fan voting this season.
Starting forward: Pascal Siakam, Toronto
Why Pascal? Arguably the most talented player returning from Toronto’s first-ever NBA title team last season, Siakam has elevated his play and leadership in all phases of the game. For Siakam, it’s just a matter of whether he’ll be a starter or an All-Star reserve this year.
Starting center: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia
Why Joel? While there’s an undeniable dearth of true centers in the East, Joel Embiid is arguably the best center in the NBA regardless of conference affiliation. The gap between Embiid and the rest of the East centers is as lopsided as you will find in the NBA, making his selection a no-brainer.
Reserve guard: Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana
Why Malcolm? The transition from Milwaukee to Indiana has been a lot smoother than anticipated. Brogdon’s impact, more than any other Pacers player, has been pivotal to their unexpected contender status with Victor Oladipo still out. If Indy continues playing as a top-four, top-five team in the East, it’ll be hard to keep Brogdon off the All-Star team.
Reserve guard: Khris Middleton, Milwaukee
Why Khris? He has been such a below-the-radar talent this season for the Bucks. As good as he was a year ago, he’s actually better this season in several statistical categories. Combine that with the team’s top-shelf status in the East, Middleton is in a good position to be an All-Star for the second season in a row.
Reserve forward: Jayson Tatum, Boston
Why Tatum? Much like most wannabe first-time All-Stars, Tatum has played a vital role in the success of one of the top teams in the East. His scoring, usage rate and maybe most important, overall impact have all been on the rise this season. And his defense has been a major factor in Boston’s success despite losing its interior anchors, Aron Baynes (Phoenix) and Al Horford (Philadelphia).
Reserve forward: Domantas Sabonis, Indiana
Why Domantas? He has been a double-double machine all season (25 in 29 games) for the Pacers, blending in the ability to score around the basket as well as establishing himself as a legit face-up scorer, too. Throw in the efficiency at which he’s playing both ends of the floor and you have a strong contender for making his first All-Star team.
Reserve forward: Tobias Harris
Why Tobias? Embiid and Ben Simmons get a lot of headlines for the Sixers, but the play of Tobias Harris has been a major boon to Philly’s success this season. At 6-8, he gives Philly another mismatch offensively on the block and from the perimeter which separates him from Simmons and to some extent, Embiid as well.
Reserve guard: Bradley Beal, Washington
Why Bradley? He has been a do-it-all performer for the Wizards the past couple of years, ranked among the league’s leaders in multiple categories. And let’s face it. Every All-Star game seems to have at least one player who is really good, on a bad team and for the second year in a row, it looks like Bradley Beal will be that guy.
Reserve center: Bam Adebayo, Miami
Why Bam? Remember when we talked about the dearth of bigs in the East? Besides Embiid, the next best of the bunch is Bam Adebayo. Like most bigs, he can be a problem for teams in the post. But what makes him stand out is his well above-average passing game which is evident by him racking up a pair of triple-doubles already this season.
In the conversation...
Jaylen Brown, Boston
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
Kyle Lowry, Toronto
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn
Trae Young, Atlanta
Zach Lavine, Chicago