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NBA on Sling: The 2017 “So-Called” All Stars

The fans, players and media had a chance to choose their All Stars, and while they got it more right than wrong, there were a couple of egregious oversights, thanks to a couple of guys who racked up votes based mainly on what they’d done before this season, instead of, you know, this season. And unlike the officially sanctioned All Stars that have been announced, we think it’s nice for teams to have actual centers. So here we present the real 2017 NBA All Stars.

Western Conference

James Harden, G, Rockets (29.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 11.3 apg) It’s not often that a perennial all-star is on pace to set career highs in points, rebounds and assists, but that’s exactly what Harden is doing in his eighth season in the NBA. He already has 14 triple-doubles, including two in which he scored 50+ points, leaving him one short of Jordan’s single-season high, and just three short of Magic’s – with another 25 games on the schedule, he’s a good bet to catch them both. Oh, and he’s led the new-look Rockets to the third-best record in the league.

Russell Westbrook, G, Thunder (31.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 10.2 apg)   Harden’s 14 triple-doubles pale in comparison to the 26 Westbrook has posted, giving him the most in the NBA going back at least 30 years. Two-thirds of the way through the season he’s still averaging a triple-double, giving him a real shot at joining Oscar “The Grouch” Robertson as the only other player to do so. All due respect to Steph Curry, there’s no way he should’ve bumped Westbrook from the starting lineup.

Kevin Durant, F, Warriors (25.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.8 apg)   Who’d’a guessed Durant would be the Warriors leading scorer, and be one big night away from being their leading rebounder, as well as being their best shooter according to effective field goal percentage? This year’s team maybe three games behind the pace set by last year’s team, but they’re still outscoring opponents by a larger margin.

Kawhi Leonard, F, Spurs (25.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.4 apg)   Has seen his points per game rise for the fifth year in a row, as he’s’ blossomed into a full-blown scoring threat, after already establishing himself as one of the league’s premier defenders. Hard to believe he’s only 25.

Anthony Davis, C, Pelicans (28 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.5 bpg)   At 23, he’s managed to increase his scoring by 3 points per game, and his rebounding by 1.6, and his 35 double-doubles are sixth most in the league. He’s 6-10, has a 7-5 wingspan coupled with quick feet and athleticism rare in a man that size. If he ever gets some help in NOLA, he will be a holy terror.

Eastern Conference

Isaiah Thomas, G, Celtics (29.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 6.3 apg)   He’s got career-high shooting percentages from inside the arc, outside the arc and at the line, resulting in him being second in the league in scoring. And the spike in scoring has not come at the expense of his traditional point guard duties, as he’s dropping dimes at a career-high rate, though he doesn’t give you much at the other end of the floor. Still, too explosive a scorer to be overlooked. Can you believe the Kings traded him for Alex Oriakhi and a trade exception?

Kyle Lowry, G, Raptors (22.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 7.0 apg)   Overshadowed by his higher-scoring backcourt mate, DeMar DeRozan, Lowry is a better shooter – his .571 effective field goal percentage in the second-best in the NBA among guards, trailing only Curry – and defender, grabs nearly as many boards, and has almost twice as many assists. But voters, including the media, got distracted by the shiny point total put up by DeRozan, and the brand name recognition of Kyrie Irving. In short, the voters blew it on the East’s backcourt.

LeBron James, F, Cavaliers (25.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 8.8 apg)   There’s no reason to discuss this, is there? He’s basically grandfathered in at this point, as long as he’s averaging 20 minutes a game, he’s welcome to start any time.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks (23.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 5.5 apg)   A 6-11 guard who’s top 10 in blocks and steals? Crazy. The Greek Freak ate himself a ton of Wheaties this past off-season, and came back with a vengeance – did you see this past weekend where he went from center court to a dunk with one dribble? Nuts.

Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat (16.8 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 0.6 apg, 2.0 blocks) Go ahead, laugh, but the East needs somebody to crash the boards and put a body on Davis, don’t they? Antetokounmpo’s got the length, but not the muscle mass, and Whiteside has developed into the NBA’s leading rebounder, while also scoring a respectable 16.8, and having the good sense not to have a launched a single three-pointer – ever.

Monday, February 13

Oklahoma City Thunder (31-24) vs Washington Wizards (32-21)
8pm ET on TNT

Atlanta Hawks (31-23) vs Portland Trail Blazers (23-31)
10:30pm ET on TNT

Wednesday

Indiana Pacers (29-25) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (37-16)
7pm ET on ESPN

New York Knicks (23-33) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (31-24)
9:30pm ET on ESPN

Thursday

Boston Celtics (35-19) vs Chicago Bulls (26-29)
8pm ET on TNT

Friday

NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
Featuring Mark Cuban and Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler, among others
7pm ET on ESPN

Rising Stars Challenge
Karl-Anthony Towns leads his fellow Americans against Kristaps Porzingis and a host of international stars
9pm ET on TNT

Saturday

All-Star Saturday Night, featuring the Skills Challenges, Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest
8pm ET on TNT

Sunday

Eastern Conference vs Western Conference
8:30pm ET on TNT

Watch the NBA on ESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange, on TNT by subscribing to Sling Orange or Sling Blue, or on ABC by subscribing to Sling Orange + Broadcast Extra

All stats courtesy ESPN and Basketball Reference.

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