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Who should start the NBA All-Star Game? Picking 10 starters for 2023 in Salt Lake City

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It’s that time of the year again.

On Tuesday, Dec. 20, voting for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game gets underway.

Once again, fans will account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the five Western Conference starters and five Eastern Conference starters. The remaining 50 percent will be split between players and media. As for the reserves? The NBA’s head coaches will select those at a later date.

Much can change between now and when All-Star voting closes at the end of January, but here are the 10 players I think are most deserving to start at this point of the season.

As a reminder, each conference gets two backcourt players (guards) and three frontcourt players (forwards and centers). The starters no longer have to be made up of two guards, two forwards and one center, but, well, you’ll see.


Western Conference All-Star starters

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

G: Luka Doncic, Mavericks

F: Zion Williamson, Pelicans

C: Anthony Davis, Lakers

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

As always, there are a few no-brainers here.

The Warriors haven’t been great, but Stephen Curry is putting up numbers on par with his unanimous MVP season. Luka Doncic is in a similar boat in that his Mavericks have been so-so but he’s been nothing short of spectacular, averaging a near triple-double while flirting with his first scoring title. Nikola Jokic is the back-to-back MVP and is once again playing at a historic level.

Jokic’s recent stretch has been particularly impressive. He’s scored over 30 points in eight of his last 13 outings, including a season-best 43 points in a win over the Wizards in which he shot — are you sitting down for this? — 17-for-20 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He then went for 40 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists a few nights later.

Nerd alert: Jokic might have the prettiest shot chart in the NBA right now. The dude rarely misses from anywhere inside the 3-point line.

It’s hard to argue with Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson for the remaining spots.

Davis has also been playing at an MVP level for a good chunk of the season and has been everywhere defensively. It’s not his fault that getting to .500 continues to be a grind for the Lakers.

Of course, Davis now being out for multiple weeks with an injury opens the door for someone else to start, so he is here in pencil for now, not pen.

If you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on in New Orleans, you’re missing out. Williamson is back to bullying everyone again after missing all of last season with injury and is the driving force in the Pelicans’ rise up the Western Conference standings. He’s one of the best shows in the entire NBA.

Apologies to: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder; Ja Morant, Grizzlies; Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers; Devin Booker, Suns; LeBron James, Lakers

MORE: How to vote for NBA All-Star Game 2023, explained

Tatum Giannis

Eastern Conference All-Star starters

G: Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers

G: Jaylen Brown, Celtics

F: Jayson Tatum, Celtics

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Giannis Antetokounmpo is an easy selection. Arguably the best player in the NBA right now, he’s posting 30 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis while playing a central role in one of the league’s stingiest defenses. Brook Lopez might be the Buck currently getting more Defensive Player of the Year love, but don’t be surprised if Antetokounmpo ends up winning the award again.

Jayson Tatum is another easy selection. It’s still quite early to be discussing MVP, but we had him in the No. 1 spot the last time we took stock of the award. “Best player on the best team” is always a strong case for MVP, but it’s not like that’s the only reason Tatum finds himself as the front-runner. He has been a monster on both ends of the court. 

Both Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant have a strong case for the last frontcourt spot, but I give Embiid the slight edge for now. He became the first center since Shaquille O’Neal to lead the league in scoring last season (30.6). This season, he’s averaging even more points (33.3) on better efficiency. He’s also averaging a career-high in assists and continues to be a highly disruptive defender.

After a shaky start by his standards, Embiid is working his way back into the MVP discussion.

There’s not as much to debate in the backcourt. The Cavaliers are further along than expected thanks to Donovan Mitchell‘s scorching start to the season. Already a three-time All-Star, he’s averaging a shade under 30 points per game on almost 50-40-90 shooting splits.

I like Jaylen Brown as the second guard. Tatum’s gotten the bulk of the attention for well how Boston has played, but Brown has been nearly as impressive. He’s averaging career highs almost across the board and is among a small group of players who can hold a candle to Jokic’s shot chart.

Apologies to: Kevin Durant, Nets; Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers; Jimmy Butler, Heat; DeMar DeRozan, Bulls


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