The NBA announced its starters for the 2020 All-Star Game on Thursday. As a result of the collective fan, media and players vote, the starters in the East will be Trae Young, Kemba Walker, Pascal Siakam, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. In the West, the starters will be Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Playground rules are in effect for the third straight season, which means LeBron and Giannis will serve as captains, with James receiving the first pick. Here are some thoughts on the announced starters:
1. Jimmy Butler Should Have Been a Guard
You’ll see this everywhere, but Butler, the leader of the second-seed Heat, was a victim of being listed as a frontcourt player in the voting. Butler arguably could’ve made the team over Siakam, but he almost certainly would’ve made the team over Young. The Atlanta guard’s counting stars are eye-popping, but his team's success is lacking, and Butler has been a wildly impactful player for one of the best teams (record-wise) in the league. It’s probably long overdue for the NBA to go positionless when it comes to All-Star voting. (Interestingly, Butler finished worse than teammate Bam Adebayo in the player vote. Perhaps Jimmy’s reputation still needs some work.)
2. LeBron James Has More All-Star Appearances Than the Eastern Starters Combined
This, per Dan Woike of the LA Times, is just an incredible stat. James has 16 appearances. The East starters have 13.
3. Luka Doncic Should be the First Pick, But He Won’t Be
I’ll bet anything James selects his teammate and fellow Klutch man Davis with the first pick. He and Doncic would just be fun as hell running together in an All-Star game. It’s still entirely possible they end up teammates, if Giannis takes Kawhi or someone else first. But I’d rather not leave it to chance.
4. We’ll Miss Steph, Klay, and Kevin Durant
Injuries happen every season. But it would have been really sweet if the All-Star game gifted us an awkward Warriors reunion. Instead Golden State almost certainly won’t have any participants this year. Curry, Thompson, KD would’ve been really fascinating to watch as either teammates or opponents in this game. The East especially could use KD as its roster once again is a little underwhelming compared to the West. The competition for starting guard spots between Doncic, Harden, Steph and Klay is something to look forward to next season.
5. Don’t Underestimate Ben Simmons
I’m going to save my “hottest” take for last: If you switched Simmons and Young, the Sixers would be much worse and the Hawks would be much better. I don’t know if it’s the shooting jokes or what, but I think Simmons was a little overlooked as an All-Star starter this year. He brings it every night. He’s been balling with Embiid injured. And he also has a legitimate case for Defensive Player of the Year. Simmons’s career is always going to be complicated to judge as long as he’s tethered to Embiid. That shouldn’t get in the way of how talented he is as an individual. The All-Star game is obviously not all about winning. And Trae is going to be very fun to watch—he absolutely earned his spot. I just hope the awkward fit of the Sixers doesn’t stop people from appreciating the talent at hand.