Early NBA All-Star Ballot as the season hits December

We are entering the month of December, and the quarter mark of the NBA season is here. With the current balance of today’s league, we could be seeing a flurry of new All-Stars making rosters this season for the first time. Things are obviously subject to change as there is a lot more basketball to be played, but these are the players I would give the nod to if the All-Star rosters were to be made as of December 2nd, 2019. I have broken each roster down in terms of position and will be selecting two backcourt players and three frontcourt players for each conference’s starting lineup, to go along with two backcourt, three frontcourt, and two wild-card spots for each roster, as well as a handful of honorable mentions.

Eastern Conference Starters:

BC: Kemba Walker PG, Boston Celtics (4th Selection)

Kemba Walker moved on from the Hornets this past offseason and has fit into the Boston Celtics offense seamlessly. The three-time All-Star is on his way to his 4th All-Star selection and another starting nod, as he is averaging 21.6 points a game, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists, all while leading the Celtics to a 14-5 record. Kemba can score the ball in bunches, and his best game this season so far came against the Nets, where Walker poured in 39 points only five days after going down with a scary neck injury. The nine-year pro is going on his 5th straight season averaging over 20 points a night and ultimately will get the starting nod over Kyrie Irving (spoiler) due to his team’s record.

BC: Bradley Beal SG, Washington Wizards (3rd Selection)

The Wizards are off to a dismal 6-12 start but boast the league’s 3rd highest-scoring offense. This is in large part to 8 year pro Bradley Beal. The swingman is currently 5th in the league in scoring at 28.0 points a night and is adding 4.3 rebounds and a career-high 7.3 assists. One of the league’s quietest superstars has improved every year he has been in the NBA, and just because he doesn’t get as much recognition because he plays in Washington, doesn’t mean he is one of the league’s best scorers. Beal should be written in for this year’s All-Star game whether it be as a starter or a reserve.

FC: Giannis Antetokounmpo PF, Milwaukee Bucks (4th Selection)

Giannis is more than likely on his way to a second straight MVP season and is one of the first guys you’ll name when talking about the league’s best players. He is a no brainer here as a starter, as he is currently second in the league in scoring with 30.9 PPG, to go along with 13.4 RPG (career-high), and 5.9 assists. He is on track to have one of the most dominant seasons since Shaquille O’Neal. Giannis continues to dominate the league night in and night out, that sometimes we forget just how great he is. After dropping 50 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and NO TURNOVERS in a comeback victory against the Jazz in November, it seemed like no one even batted an eye. Giannis continues to be one of the league’s most polarizing players, and will more than likely end up as one of the captains for this year’s All-Star game.

FC: Pascal Siakam PF, Toronto Raptors (1st Selection)

After losing Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, no one expected the Raptors to keep up their championship pace from a season ago. Last year’s Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam, had other plans. The Raptors are 15-4 and second in the Eastern Conference, led by their break out superstar. Siakam is averaging 25.6 points a night, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists, and has improved yet again in every single offensive category, putting him in position to possibly win back to back MIP awards for the first time in history. I would go as far as saying that Siakam is possibly the second-best player in the East beyond Giannis, but that is a discussion for another day. The 4th year player has a versatile offensive game, as it was on display against the Jazz when he dropped 19 points in just the first quarter. This will be the first of many All-Star selections for Spicy P.

FC: Joel Embiid C, Philadelphia 76ers (3rd Selection)

Embiid has had his ups and downs this season, but he is still the best true big man in the Eastern Conference. A defensive force with an inside out offensive game, Embiid is averaging 22.8 points a night, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, to go along with 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals. The blocks and steals may be down, but Embiid still is leading the league in defensive rating, making his presence known. The Sixers are 14-6 to start the season and are likely going to be a top of the standings around the All-Star Break. Embiid has been the best player on this team so far this season, and will undoubtedly earn a spot on the All-Star roster.

Eastern Conference Bench:

BC: Kyrie Irving PG, Brooklyn Nets (7th Selection)

Kyrie has been banged up for a small portion of the early season, but when he is on the court for the Nets he is still doing what he does best, score the basketball. In his first season with the Nets, Kyrie is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and assists with 28.5 points a night, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists. In his 9th season and third team, Kyrie is quietly having a career year. Not all of these outings have amounted to wins, as we saw on opening night when Irving went for 50 points in his Nets debut, only to lose a heartbreaker to the Timberwolves. The Nets are sitting at 10-10 and 7th in the East, but if Kyrie keeps up this play once he returns from injury, he’ll be a lock for an All-Star spot.

BC: Trae Young PG, Atlanta Hawks (1st Selection)

Trae Young is often overshadowed by Luka, due to that draft-night trade and Luka’s individual success as well as his current team’s success. The Hawks may not be winning too many basketball games, but without John Collins and Kevin Huerter in the lineup, Young doesn’t have too much help. The numbers Young is still able to put up though deserve the same energy most people give to Luka. He’s averaging 28.2 points a night, 4.0 rebounds, and 8.3 assists, and is doing things early on in his career that only Oscar Robinson has done. Some may argue that Young is a year away from the All-Star game, but Trae is a superstar right now. The wins will come, but Trae Young has already arrived.

FC: Jimmy Butler SF, Miami Heat (5th Selection)

The Heat are one of the NBA’s more surprising teams early on, as they’ve raced out to a 14-5 record and still have yet to lose to a team below .500. Jimmy Butler has been their best player and team leader, and that will earn him his 5th All-Star selection. His numbers don’t jump off the paper, but he is putting up 18.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 3.5 APG, and is playing great defense, showing everyone that he may have been pegged with a false stigma: his teammates are loving him in Miami and Butler has been a great leader for the team. Butler’s shooting numbers are sure to increase with time, and by February it won’t be too tough of a choice to put Butler on the roster.

FC: Bam Adebayo C, Miami Heat (1st Selection)

Bam Adebayo has come on after earning the starting role in Miami and hasn’t looked back. There is a case to be made here for some other players over Bam, but ultimately Adebayo should get the nod due to his team’s record and his versatile play. Adebayo may not only be in the Most Improved Player conversation, but he could end up getting some DPOY votes as well. Bam can guard every position on the floor, and his offensive game has been a very intriguing development for the Heat. Miami is often without a traditional point guard on the floor, and they’re able to get away with this because they have been able to run their offense through Bam. He’s an underrated playmaker and has all the defensive tools to anchor the Heat.

FC: Andre Drummond C, Detroit Pistons (3rd Selection)

Another season, and another what seems to be rebounding title for Andre Drummond. After flirting with 20 RPG to start the season, Detroit’s big man has eased his way into a calm 17.1 rebounds a night. Oddly enough, Drummond has scored just as many points as rebounds that he’s collected. For a disappointing Piston’s team that could very well blow it up, Drummond has been the team’s bright spot for the past few years. You know what you’re getting with Drummond night in and night out, and that is an elite rebounder and rim runner worthy of an All-Star nod.

WC: Domantas Sabonis C, Indiana Pacers (1st Selection)

After signing a new 4yr/$75 million extension, it seems like the Pacers are invested in Domantas Sabonis and not Myles Turner going forward. The move has been warranted, as the 4th year big man is putting up 18.4 points a night, 13.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists as Indiana’s starting center. These last spots can be tricky, as there are other deserving candidates for the All-Star game, but Sabonis would be a worthy candidate to represent a Pacer’s team bound to make the playoffs. With time though, his teammate Malcolm Brogden could steal his spot if he can stay healthy.

WC: Jaylen Brown SG, Boston Celtics (1st Selection)

This pick is mainly based on the Celtics deserving two All-Stars so far this season, and with Hayward still out due to a hand injury, I feel like Jaylen Brown is slightly more deserving than fellow wing Jayson Tatum. Brown has taken the next step in his game that we thought he’d take last season, and is averaging 19.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists while playing stellar defense and shooting at a more efficient rate than Tatum. In the 15 games he’s played, Brown has scored at least 20 points in 9 of them and is no stranger to the highlight reel. Brown will continue to develop, and whether he or Tatum receives a final roster spot it will be deserving.

HM: Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Lowrey, Zach Lavine, Malcolm Brogden, Eric Bledsoe

Western Conference Starters

BC: James Harden PG, Houston Rockets (8th Selection)

James Harden is the best offensive player we have seen in the last 20 years, possibly more, so to see him as an All-Star starter for another year shouldn’t come as a surprise. Harden is putting up 38.9 points a night, 5.9 rebounds, and 7.8 assists, and has the opportunity to be the first player to average 40 points a night since Wilt Chamberlin did in 1962-1963. Harden is going to be in the MVP conversation, and with the Western All-Star roster, he’ll be one of the first names mentioned when voting happens.

BC: Luka Doncic PG, Dallas Mavericks (1st Selection)

After a rookie year that some thought deserved Luka an All-Star spot last season, there is no question that Doncic will be starting for the West in Chicago come February. The 20-year-old phenom is at the center of MVP talk to start the year, as he has led the Mavericks to a 13-6 start and is running the best offense in basketball. The sophomore is putting up 30.6 PPG, 9.9 rebounds, and 9.6 assists, and just joined Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robinson as the only players in history to average 30, 10, and 10 for a calendar month. The future is now in the NBA, and Luka is leading the new generation.

FC: LeBron James SF, Los Angeles Lakers (16th Selection)

LeBron has been a write-in for the All-Star game for the past 15 seasons, and this year nothing is new. A top two-player of all-time, James continues to dominate in his 17th season in the league. He’s putting up 25.7 points a night, 7.2 rebounds, and a career-high 10.9 assists, a number that currently leads the league. The Lakers are off to a league-best 17-3 record, and LeBron has been leading this roster that outside of Anthony Davis, still seems quite vulnerable. LeBron isn’t quite ready to leave his throne, and bearing an unforeseen circumstance, his streak of All-Star selections won’t be in jeopardy.

FC: Anthony Davis PF, Los Angeles Lakers (7th Selection)

Anthony Davis will be joining his teammate in the Western Conference frontcourt. Davis has come to LA and picked up where he left off in New Orleans, averaging 26.1 points a night, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, to go along with 4.3 stocks a game (steals and blocks). Davis has been the focal point of the Lakers offense and has benefited as anyone would playing alongside LeBron James. Davis is still one of the most dominant big men in the league, and at only 26 years old, he will be named an All-Star for already the 7th time in his career.

FC: Karl Anthony-Towns C, Minnesota Timberwolves (3rd Selection)

KAT has always been a lethal offensive threat, but this year he has taken it to another level. Towns is averaging a career-high 25.9 points a night, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting an impressive 42% from three on 9 attempts per game. At 7 feet tall, KAT has the green light whenever he touches the ball and boasts a unique skill set that isn’t usually seen in big men. Most modern-day bigs can spot up and knock down the three, but KAT has taken it a step further, taking his defender off the dribble on the perimeter and hitting three’s using step backs and side steps. It also helps that the Timberwolves have a record above .500 at 10-9, as Town’s play is finally amounting to something more than empty stats.

Western Conference Bench:

BC: Damian Lillard PG, Portland Trailblazers (5th Selection)

The Trailblazers have been a surprise throughout the league, and not a good one. After making the conference finals a season ago, Rip City has taken multiple steps backward as they are currently sitting at 8-12 after a nice three-game winning streak. This is in no part due to the play of their star point guard Damian Lillard, as he is having another stellar season. Dame is putting up 27.3 points a night, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists for the Blazers so far, and is doing everything he can to get Portland back to the playoffs. Dame will be on this team regardless of his team’s record.

BC: Devin Booker SG, Phoenix Suns (1st Selection)

This may be the season that we finally see Devin Booker turn his individual play into team wins. The Suns have cooled off after their hot start, but are still sitting at 9-10 and in the 8th spot in the West. Something this young team now has that they haven’t had in the past is hope. Monty Williams is leading this team in the right direction and is getting helped by Booker’s play while Ayton has been suspended. The scoring guard is putting up 24.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.2 APG, and has flourished playing off the ball next to Ricky Rubio, a traditional point guard that Booker hasn’t had the luxury of playing with during his short career. Booker can shoot the lights out, as we saw him hit 45 threes in a row in practice recently. This will be the start of Booker being a house hold name during the All-Star Break.

FC: Kawhi Leonard SF, Los Angeles Clippers (4th Selection)

Although some may not be a fan of Kawhi’s load management over the course of this season, he will still likely play more than enough games to make him an All-Star. And that is the thing with Leonard, as long as he plays, he will be an All-Star. Kawhi may be the most impactful player in the game today, as he is elite on both ends of the floor, and is coming off a playoff run where he carried the Raptors to a championship. Now flourishing in LA, Leonard is putting up 25.9 points a night, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. A man of few words, Kawhi gets in done on both ends better than anyone else, and if he was still in the East, there is a good shot Kawhi would be a starter in this contest.

FC: Nikola Jokic C, Denver Nuggets (2nd Selection)

First time All-Star a season ago, Jokic has been considered one of the best under 25-year-olds in the league, and at his best perhaps the best center in the NBA. Although he has taken a step back statistically to start this season, averaging only 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists, if you watch the Nuggets play it is clear that his impact goes far beyond the numbers. Jokic is the facilitator of the 13-4 Nugget’s offense, and even if Jokic isn’t dishing out assists, he usually is responsible for setting up his teammates, making the extra pass within the offense. When Jokic is collecting assists, it can be in a mesmerizing fashion. Perhaps the best passing big man of the generation, Jokic counters his lackluster athleticism with creativity and a great feel for the game. Just take a look at this pass below.

FC: Montrezl Harrell C, Los Angeles Clippers (1st Selection)

The Clippers will be a team that will undoubtedly warrant multiple All-Star selections, and until we see more games from Paul George I’m going to go ahead and give this spot to Montrezl Harrell. Harrell is enjoying a career year, as he is putting up career highs in points (18.8 per game), rebounds (8.0 per game), and assists (2.2 per game) while shooting an effective 59% from the field. Harrell does a little bit of everything for the Clippers, and often times when Kawhi and PG aren’t on the floor, Harrell is turned on to keep his team in the game. When February rolls around Paul George may be getting a lot of Harrell’s votes, but regardless Harrell is having an All-Star season and will be cashing out this offseason with a new contract.

WC: Donovan Mitchell SG, Utah Jazz (1st Selection)

The Jazz have been slightly disappointing to start the season after being pegged as finals dark horses, but Donovan Mitchell has continued to show why he is the face of the franchise. The 3rd year combo guard out of Louisville is putting up 24.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. Many didn’t expect Mitchell to be this sort of player after being drafted, but since his rookie year, he has been dazzling the league with his scoring and athletic plays. The part of his game that has really taken a leap this season has been on the defensive end, and though only standing at a mere 6,1, Mitchell uses his 6,10’ wingspan to stay in front of ball handlers. This part of his game hasn’t gone unnoticed has reigning Defensive Player of the Year and Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert has praised Mitchell for his efforts. Mitchell could very well see himself on the All-Star roster this season and is a part of the NBA’s new wave of talent.

WC: Andrew Wiggins SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (1st Selection)

Andrew Wiggins seems to be finally finding his stride in the NBA. After being drafted first overall in 2014, Wiggins struggled to find his place in the league, often getting hammered for his poor shot selection and effort defensively. This year has been different though as Wiggins is averaging 24.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, to go along with a greater focus on the defensive end. Wiggins could hear the haters in his ear, and made it a point to prove them wrong, telling SLAM magazine “You always want to shut the people up that doubt you”. Wiggins and KAT are forming the duo that Minnesota drafted them to be, and Wiggins’s efforts could be rewarded with his first All-Star selection this year.

HM: Rudy Gobert, Paul George, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, DeMar DeRozan, Buddy Hield

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