Who missed out on the 2019 NBA All-Star game?
Adrian Dy on Feb 01, 2019 06:01 PM
NBAE via Getty Images
Call it tradition. With just 24 players being tapped each year to become an NBA All-Star, there's always a handful of players who probably should have made the cut...but didn't. It can't be helped - each year, the talent pool in the Association gets deeper and deeper, so unless the league makes a move to expand rosters, you'll continue to see this sort of article on a regular basis.
So, who have the most compelling cases to have had their bags packed for Charlotte in mid-February? Here are my picks:
Rudy Gobert (UTA)
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was surprisingly left out in the West, with more scoring-oriented big men like Karl-Anthony Towns and LaMarcus Aldridge getting the nod ahead of him. True, the Jazz had a rough start to the season, but they've since righted the ship (11-4 in January), boasting of a top-five defensive rating, with Gobert very much the centerpiece of said effort (2.5 blocks per 36 minutes, career-best 5.3 DBPM). If the West sees anyone drop out because of injury, Comm. Adam Silver should immediately get the Stifle Tower on the phone.
Luka Doncic (DAL)
HalleLuka is running wild, and it definitely feels like he's a lock to win Rookie of the Year. Doncic simply stuffs the stats sheet. Just this month, he became the second-youngest player to post a triple-double, then followed that up by becoming the first teenager with a pair of trip-dubs, and the first with a 30-point kind of effort. And fans seemed to recognize his efforts, as he was consistently near the top of the West forwards ballot during voting. Yes the West is stacked, but he has a clear case to break into the All-Star group (though he should be sensational in the Rising Stars game).
Tobias Harris (LAC)
The Clippers have been a pleasant surprise this season, though they've since settled down to the bottom of the West Playoffs bunch. Leaning on a "strength in numbers" strategy, the Clips don't have the star wattage of their Lob City era, but a guy who deserves some recognition for their 28-24 record is gunner Tobias Harris. Harris is averaging a career-best 21.1 points on 50.1 percent field goal shooting, 43.0 percent on three's. He obviously isn't a household name, but even without an ASG nod, he should be a highly sought-after free agent his summer.
D'Angelo Russell (BKN)
Mr. Ice Water in His Veins has seen his numbers climb with each passing month. For his 15 games in January, the former Lakers lottery pick is now up to 23.8 points on 47.9 percent shooting, 41.3 percent on triples, with 7.3 assists and 1.3 steals an outing. The Nets have already bettered their record from a season ago, and look primed to make the postseason, despite injuries to guys like Caris Levert and Spencer Dinwiddie. How have they been able to overcome those absences? Mr. Russell himself.
Pascal Siakam (TOR)
No offense to Mr. Lowry, but if Kawhi Leonard is to have a fellow Raptor make the ASG draft pool, I'd like to volunteer Pascal Siakam as that guy instead. In his third season in the league, his numbers have all taken huge leaps. Outside of the box score, his defensive effort and athleticism mean you can literally stick him on anyone with good results. We all know "The Klaw" has the wingspan and hand size, but Siakam isn't far behind relatively.
Myles Turner (IND)
How convenient that we could in theory replace injured Pacer Victor Oladipo with...another Pacer. Myles Turner's number don't exactly pop out at you (12.8 points, 7.2 boards, career-high 2.7 blocks), but he brings size, shooting, and rock-solid defense to the table. Put it this way - the Pacers have a better defensive rating (#4 in the League) than even the Jazz, and that's despite Oladipo missing games earlier in the season, prior to his catastrophic injury. Turner's a large chunk of that, and could stand to be rewarded for it.
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)
Dwyane Wade (MIA)
We're far away from Vince Carter giving up a starting spot in the All-Star Game to pay tribute to Michael Jordan, but if you're looking for two veterans likely in their final NBA season that could use an homage or two, well, there's Dirk and Dwyane. The coolest part? There's nothing stopping the league office from slyly announcing one last surprise - the addition of Wade to Team LeBron (Banana Boat ahoy!) and Nowitzki to Team Giannis (the passing of the Euro torch). Feel free to steal my idea guys. It'll be worth it.
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