The 2023 NBA All-Star Game starters have been announced. The Inside the NBA crew informed the NBA world that LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will headline as team captains. James has been captain in every year that the format has been in place, and Antetokounmpo will be in the vanguard for the third time in his career.
There was a tight voting race in the Eastern Conference front court. Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum of the NBA-leading Boston Celtics and Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets) edged out fourth-place vote getter Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) for starting nods. Joining them are guards Kyrie Irving (Nets) and Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers).
Representing the Western Conference alongside James are reigning All-Star Game MVP Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) and box-office sensation Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans).
The creme of the NBA crop have all stood out with their individual performances this season.
In the west, Doncic leads the league in scoring at 33.8 points per game and has the most 30, 40, and 50 point games so far this year. Jokic leads the NBA in triple-doubles and has the Nuggets atop the western conference at 34-15. Williamson has been a man amongst boys with an NBA-leading 19.1 points per game in the paint. Curry is on the precipice of another 50-40-90 season while scoring 29.3 points per contest and James continues to defy Father Time and put on a show in transition with a league-leading 6.4 fast break points per game.
As for the east, Durant spearheaded a 12-game Nets winning streak between Dec. 7 and Jan. 2, catapulting them in the standings behind 28.8 points per game on 59.7 percent shooting from the floor in that span. Irving has dazzled on the year, producing roughly 27-5-5 while reducing his turnovers to a career-low 2.2 per game.
Mitchell took the NBA world by storm with a 71-point performance against the Chicago Bulls in the midst of a career season as he leads a successful Cavaliers team. Tatum’s production has been instrumental to the best team in the NBA while averaging the most points, rebounds, three-pointers made and double-doubles at the small forward position. Antetokounmpo is the only player averaging a 30-point double-double as he remains a fixture in the MVP race.
Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers has also had a season worthy of a starting nod, if solely contingent upon individual statistics. The six-time all-star is having another season averaging 30 or more points per game. On the year, he has produced a career-high 30.1 points and 7.4 assists per game.
Lillard held in seventh for most of the All-Star voting process. The competition between himself, Curry and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant in real life has been fierce, but no so much in the balloting race. As documented by the NBA PR Twitter feed, Lillard leaped to fifth overall when media and peer votes were counted, but still finished well short of the Top Two.
Three voting groups determined the starters:— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 27, 2023
• Fans (50%)
• NBA players (25%)
• Media panel 25%)
Complete voting results here: https://t.co/M8btg7M0GP
Below are the overall scores for the top finishers at each position. pic.twitter.com/HQ9W20Z6Ke
Lillard should fare well when the reserves are announced, as they are chose by NBA coaches rather than popular vote. 2023 All-Star Reserves will be announced next Thursday, February 2nd.