The 2023 NBA All-Star reserves have been announced, headlined by your very own Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Inside the NBA released the full reserves for both the Eastern and Western Conference. All sentiments must be prefaced by congratulations to all players named, as each All-Star is deserving in their contributions to their individual or team success.
Having said that, there were some glaring omissions from both teams. The case can most certainly be made that Jerami Grant of the Portland Trail Blazers was worthy of placement among the Western Conference reserves.
Grant averages 21.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 48.8 percent shooting from the field and has been among the league leaders in three-point percentage all year, currently situated at 42.1 percent from distance.
Lillard, Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder), Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento Kings) and Lauri Markkanen (Utah Jazz) were virtual shoo-ins out West. Debatable selections were Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies).
Given that the Clippers are the No. 4 seed in the West, a team of their caliber typically demands one All-Star year-over-year. Yet George has only appeared in 37 games. Admittedly, he averages more points, rebounds, and assists than Grant on similar efficiency, but this selection could have gone either way. In the end, an 11th-seeded team needs to jump through hoops to produce two All-Stars.
Jackson Jr. leads the league with 3.3 blocks per game, but the rest of his statistics do not pop out. Assuming trends continue, he’ll be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but like George, has missed quite some time, playing in only 35 games this season.
The most flagrant snub of the night was De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings. Anybody claiming that they foresaw the Kings being the 3rd seed in the conference (outside of diehard Kings fans) may be disingenuous. They have exceeded expectations, and that’s what makes them such a team to respect.
Sabonis has been sensational, leading the league in double-doubles and ranking 6th in triple-doubles, but the frontrunner on that team has been Fox. For a player averaging 24.3 points, 6.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on 50.6 percent shooting from the floor — the third-highest field goal percentage league wide among all point guards averaging 20 or more points per game — Fox’s name was merited for a selection.
With an injury to Zion Williamson possibly keeping him out of All-Star weekend, Fox is likely to have next.
In the Eastern Conference, Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) and Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics) headlined the East reserves, alongside shoo-ins Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Julius Randle (New York Knicks) and NBA assist leader Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers).
Jalen Brunson (Knicks) was another omission that garnered sympathy. One could argue he’s been the most effective player on his team, even over All-Star reserve Julius Randle. He’s owned the midrange game and controlled a Knicks offense that has carried them to the 7th seed in their conference.
Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks) may have the gaudiest stat line in the history of All-Star snubs, boasting 27.0 points and 9.9 assists per game. Averages of at least 27 points and nine assists per game have only happened 16 times in the history of the league by only six players (Oscar Robertson (8), James Harden (1), Russell Westbrook (1), LeBron James (1), Nate Archibald (2), Trae Young (3)). He joins Archibald (1972) as the only two players to not be named to the All-Star game with such numbers. His inefficiency is the likely culprit behind his absence on the team.
Other honorable mentions across conferences include Aaron Gordon (Nuggets), Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves, James Harden (76ers) Darius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers), and Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), who will all be in line for consideration as injury replacements if necessary.