All-Star starters get released this Thursday, February 18. Now I don’t get a media vote (a travesty, I know) but I do happen to work for this fine establishment that you’re currently reading from. So I guess we can call this my No Limit Jumper (un)official NBA All-Star ballot. A few notes on how I tend to think about this stuff before I jump in though. It’s important to look at statistics during the selection process but I also like to reward team success with these choices. Also, some extenuating circumstances are relevant to consider. For example, guys like Beal and Lavine (spoiler alert) shouldn’t be penalized because their teams are bad. Some of my picks will reflect that logic. Without further ado, here are my 2021 NBA All-Star predictions.
- There’s 24 spots for 2 conferences
- Starting Lineup: 3 frontcourt spots and 2 guards
- 7 reserve spots: 3 frontcourt, 2 guards and 2 wildcards
- Joel Embiid, C, Sixers
- Kevin Durant, F, Nets
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks
- Bradley Beal, G, Wizards
- Jaylen Brown, G, Celtics
I know I know….here I go with the Celtics bias. Let me state my case for Jaylen Brown starting though. He’s been the Celtics best player this season. His offensive game has grown tremendously and he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA. He’s averaging 26ppg on 50% shooting and 40% from 3. At times, he’s literally willed the Celtics to wins. Jaylen Brown deserves this spot. Also, this is my ballot. With my imaginary vote, I’m also choosing to punish Harden for his abhorrent exit from the Houston Rockets. Sue me.
The other starters were an easy choice. Embiid, Durant and Giannis are the clear frontcourt favorites and not much more needs to be said about their seasons. You can go to the bank with those 2021 NBA all-star predictions. Bradley Beal has been the best guard in the conference regardless of his team’s success. However, I will concede that it’s going to be hard to bump both Kyrie and Harden from the starting lineup. For my ballot though, they’re out. Beal and Brown are in.
- James Harden, G, Nets
- Jayson Tatum, F, Celtics
- Bam Adebayo, F, Heat
- Kyrie Irving, G, Nets
- Khris Middleton, F, Bucks
- Wildcard: Zach Lavine, G, Bulls
- Wildcard: Ben Simmons, G, Sixers
Now this is where things get dicey. Despite what I said above, Harden is obviously a lock. He’s one of the best players in the NBA and he’s leading the league in assists. Tatum makes it easily and so does Kyrie. Adebayo is my reserve frontcourt pick along with Khris Middleton who’s been doing everything for the Bucks this season. He’s averaging a career high in assists while still managing to score at an incredibly inefficient rate (51%fg, 44%3fg, 90%ft). So that leaves me with two wildcard choices…
There’s a number of players this season who are deserving. Nikola Vucevic, Domantas Sabonis, Trae Young, Julius Randle and Tobias Harris are all having great seasons. I just couldn’t see how I could leave off Zach Lavine and Ben Simmons. The Sixers are one of the best teams in the NBA and Simmons is their lead guard. Throw in the fact that he’s guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player every night. That gives him an edge over everyone else I just mentioned. Lavine is an offensive juggernaut. He’s averaging 28 points per game this season with deadly efficiency and dishing out 5 assists for good measure. He’s deserving of the nod.
- Lebron James, F, Lakers
- Nikola Jokić, C, Nuggets
- Kawhi Leonard, F, Clippers
- Steph Curry, G, Warriors
- Damian Lillard, G, Blazers
The starters felt like a no brainer to me but I’m sure Luka-stans will be angry with it. Luka is averaging 29-8-9 while Dame is averaging 29-4-7 but you know what? This is my imaginary ballot and I’d rather reward winning. The Blazers are 17-10 and sit 5 spots ahead of the Mavericks in the standings. Dame’s also been leading his team to victories while missing key pieces of their rotation. It always seems like Lillard tends to figure it out more often than not and he should be rewarded for that. Luka will get plenty of chances to start all-star games in his career, but I’m going with Dame for this one.
The other 4 starters were easy choices. Lebron is the best player in the league (again), Kawhi looks healthy and Jokić and Curry are arguably the best two players at their positions. Not much drama to be had here. These 2021 NBA all-star predictions should be locked in.
- Luka Dončić, G, Mavericks
- Donovan Mitchell, G, Jazz
- Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz
- Anthony Davis, F, Lakers
- Paul George, F, Clippers
- Wildcard: Devin Booker, G, Suns
- Wildcard: De’Aaron Fox, G, Kings
For the reserve guards, Luka and Donovan Mitchell are the obvious choices. I nearly had Luka as a starter so he’s a lock. Mitchell is the lead guard on the best team in the league (record-wise) so he’s in there like swimwear. For the frontcourt, Anthony Davis is set along with Rudy Gobert. Paul George was on the fringe for me as a “lock” but I felt like I still had the bad taste of last year’s playoff choke on my mind. If you look at the numbers this season, Paul George is having one of the best years of his career and is deserving of a spot. The wildcard selections are where it gets tricky…
Only one of the Suns guards deserves a spot which means the other is getting snubbed. Adding Chris Paul obviously propelled Phoenix to greater heights this year but I’m not sure he deserves the nod. This feels like Devin Booker’s spot so that’s who I’m going with. For my last choice the pool is ripe with great, young players who all have strong cases. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are both putting up the numbers to make it but ultimately, I feel like the lack of success in New Orleans is holding them back. There’s a similar argument for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That leaves De’Aaron Fox. Fox puts up similar numbers to SGA and his team is only marginally better. However, it feels like Fox is having a slightly better year. I don’t really have the metrics to back it up but that’s who I’m going with.
Author’s Note: Keep in mind, Anthony Davis will likely be out. My bonus pick for his fill-in would be SGA.