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NBA All-Star Roundtable: Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Durant’s Replacement and New Uniforms

The Warriors forward received a surprising starting nod, but whose spot did he take?
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What are your thoughts on Andrew Wiggins’s selection as an All-Star starter?

Chris Herring: With career-best efficiency, and his playing on one of the best teams in the NBA, there was a very strong case for Andrew Wiggins to be a first-time All-Star. There was not, however, a strong case for him to be an All-Star starter. If another Warrior was going to get that nod, it should have been Draymond Green. But also: It’s dumb to be so rigid about needing three frontcourt starters—as opposed to three guards and two frontcourt players—which is part of how Wiggins ended up with the spot, anyway.

Michael Pina: Not to take away anything from Wiggins, who is having essentially the same impact this year as he did last year, but so much of his positive contributions are largely thanks to Steph Curry's genius. Wiggins’s efficiency plummets without his fellow All-Star on the floor, and there’s no rise in other areas (like assist rate). But this is less about Wiggins and more about the field. His own teammate Draymond Green is more deserving. Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert are also having much better years with larger roles in winning situations. I don't want to rain on Wiggins’s parade and think it’s cool for him to finally crack the team, but it would’ve been nice for it to happen during a season when such accolades actually made sense.

Ashley Nicole Moss: I know this pick has NBA Twitter in a frenzy, but there are (and have been) a lot of injuries in the West. Paul George, Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, so out of the remaining in the frontcourt, Andrew Wiggins is playing the best basketball. Now, Luka Dončić is a weird conversation because technically he’s a guard, but is he really? Regardless, I think Wiggins has found new life in The Bay, and it just goes to show how the right team can bring out the best in a player.

Robin Lundberg: I think Andrew Wiggins deserves recognition and not mockery for being selected as an All-Star starter. It'd be one thing if his selection led to a major snub, but I think we will all be O.K. seeing Rudy Gobert enter a little later in the game. It certainly isn’t worth the uproar of overhauling the entire voting process. When did everyone become such serious gatekeepers for the All-Star Game? I'm sure most will forget many who were selected for this particular exhibition. But for Wiggins, who has changed his career story from bust to key two-way player on a contender, it could be an honor he always remembers.

Who would you like to see replace Kevin Durant as a starter in the East?

Herring: ​​I think it has to be Miami’s Jimmy Butler. As it stands, neither of the top seeds in either conference has an All-Star starter, which I’m guessing almost never happens.

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Pina: Jayson Tatum has been a workhorse for a Celtics team that's finally starting to figure things out (and if we stick to positional designations, should be the choice). Jimmy Butler is the best player on arguably the conference’s best team. Zach LaVine is awesome. But if we’re ignoring positions, James Harden is the pick.

Moss: Jimmy Butler.

Lundberg: I'm still holding out hope KD plays in the game after Steve Nash said he’ll be reevaluated within the next week as it would be nice to see Durant out there. But assuming reports are true and he and the Nets elect to proceed with caution, the easy answer for me would be Zach LaVine given I think he’s been just as integral to the Bulls as DeMar DeRozan. If I have to go with a forward, however, I’ll take Jimmy Butler to both acknowledge the season the Heat are having and out of respect for Jimmy Buckets.

Initial thoughts on the NBA All-Star uniforms?

Herring: I’m … not a fan of the jerseys. Even if they have historical backstories, or ties to the city of Cleveland. But then again, it’s just for one day. And that day should be filled with fun basketball. So there’s no need to overanalyze it.

Pina: Sometimes if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s best to say nothing at all.

Moss: Uhhhhhh … is it too late to go back to the drawing board on these? I would’ve loved to see the league bring back (or at least a version of) the 1996 or 2003 jerseys. Or even the ’09 jerseys from Phoenix.

Lundberg: There are so many variant jerseys nowadays it is hard to keep track. When I first saw the All-Star jerseys I thought they looked kind of plain. But maybe that is part of the appeal. It is a glorified pickup game after all. So I think by the time they tip off in Cleveland I'll be O.K. with these.

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