The stars are aligning in Utah – at least for the 2023 All-Star Game.
Twenty-four of the NBA’s premier stars will take the court in Salt Lake City to showcase their talent in the annual event.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the two captains for the game and will pick their teams in a live draft just before tip-off. The Bucks star suffered a wrist injury on Thursday and his status for this weekend is still unclear. But we do know players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Zion Williamson will not play due to injuries.
Here are five players to watch in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19, excluding the players aforementioned:
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
The All-Star Game is not necessarily about talent, more so it’s about flair. The ending of the games can get intense, but the majority of it is about the stars putting on an offensive show and wowing the crowd.
Enter Ja Morant, the young Grizzlies star who is as exciting as it gets. Just watch this poster from last month.
Morant was the first reserve selected from the Western Conference, and he’ll replace Curry as a starter.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have two worthy All-Stars to include in this list, but it goes to Jayson Tatum. The 24-year-old forward continues his upward trajectory in the NBA and his quest for NBA Finals’ revenge is looking stronger than ever.
He has a deep scoring bag that makes him one of the most versatile weapons in the league, and he occasionally delivers emphatic posters that last in the memory. This was on Christmas Day over Antetokounmpo.
Tatum was selected as a starter from the East.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City got off to a slow start this season, but it’s slowly crept up the ranks in the West. Even if a postseason appearance isn’t in the cards this season, the future is clearly bright – with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way.
The 24-year-old 6-foot-6 guard is a dream profile. He initiates, scores from anywhere, guards multiple positions and has the clutch factor.
Simply put, put the ball in his hands and good things will happen. He may not be a household name, just yet, but this could be an opportunity to showcase his abilities to a wider audience.
Gilgeous-Alexander was selected as a reserve.
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Speaking of clutch, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox is now an All-Star as an injury replacement, though he should’ve earned the nod from the get-go. He has the same number of clutch baskets this season as Morant, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Devin Booker.
He and fellow teammate and All-Star Domantas Sabonis have been instrumental in getting Sacramento to the No. 3 seed out West as the franchise hopes to end a 16-year playoff drought.
He’s one of the fastest guards in the NBA with an underrated highlight kit and could look to stamp his name on a bigger platform, similar to Gilgeous-Alexander.
Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets
Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton initially had this spot to give the East some love, but it’s hard to overlook what The Joker brings to the table.
The Nuggets star is currently averaging 24.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.1 assists for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed – and he’s a center.
Dunks, speed and scoring have been themes from previous names, but Jokić’s passing prowess warranted recognition. Expect him to combine with his teammates in a similar fashion to this incredible no-look nutmeg assist from this past December.
Jokić was selected as a starter.