The 2019 NBA All-Star game is now just a little over a month away on February 17, 2019, and the voting for the All-Star starters will be concluding in seven days on January 21.
Two San Antonio Spurs players who are in the deep candidate pool of potential All-Star players are guard DeMar DeRozan and forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Both players have played in all of the Spurs’ 44 games this season, where DeRozan is averaging 22 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists.
After having a tough month of November shooting the ball, Aldridge has turned his season around from December onward, where he’s now averaging 20.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists for the season.
The NBA has already released the first two rounds of fan voting, and of Spurs players, only DeRozan is in the top-10 of guards out West, where he’s ranked 7th with 594,012 votes.
The All-Star starters are selected first, with 50% of the vote coming from the fans, then 25% of the vote will come from the media, and the other 25% from the players.
The format for building the All-Star team is by having two guards and three frontcourt players in the starting lineup. Once those five players have been announced on January 24, the NBA head coaches will be responsible for picking the other seven reserves. The coaches must select two guards and three frontcourt players as reserves, and then two extra players who can be at any position (wild cards). In total, there will be 12 All-Stars on each team. If an All-Star gets hurt and can’t play in the game after being selected, the Commissioner is responsible for selecting a replacement All-Star.
Knowing now where the fan voting is headed, I’ll try to look through the candidates and see what the chances are for Aldridge and DeRozan being selected as All-Stars this season.
As of the second round of fan voting, here were the players in the lead for guards:
1. Stephen Curry
2. Derrick Rose
3. James Harden
4. Russell Westbrook
5. Klay Thompson
6. Damian Lillard
7. DeMar DeRozan
8. Lonzo Ball
9. Devin Booker
10. Chris Paul
The most likely scenario is the media and players help push Harden past Rose in the starter voting, and so the assumption would be Curry and Harden will likely start at the two guard places.
Here were the leaders for the frontcourt after the second round of fan voting:
1. LeBron James
2. Luka Doncic
3. Paul George
4. Kevin Durant
5. Anthony Davis
6. Steven Adams
7. Nikola Jokic
8. Kyle Kuzma
9. Draymond Green
10. DeMarcus Cousins
Predicting who the starters will be in the frontcourt becomes tricky. While Doncic is currently in second among fan votes, the media and players might try to push one of Durant or Davis into the top-3 for starters. The media and players might also try to make a push for Jokic, but he’s currently 823,429 fan votes away from Davis, who is in 5th.
So, the most likely starters would likely be a trio of James-Doncic-George, James-George-Durant, or James-George-Davis.
The reserves will be announced on January 31. It’s looking like the coaches could have some easy and tough decisions to make when choosing the reserves:
For now, let’s assume the starters are a quintet like this:
Guard – Curry
Guard – Harden
Frontcourt – James
Frontcourt – George
Frontcourt – Doncic or Durant or Davis or Jokic
Looking at the reserve guards, a few players who one would assume are locks so long as they keep their teams in the playoff picture by January 31 are Lillard (Blazers are 4th in the standings) and Westbrook (Thunder are 3rd in the standings).
In the frontcourt reserves, a few players who look like locks are Jokic (Nuggets are 1st in the standings) if he’s not selected as a starter, Durant (Warriors 2nd in the standings) if he’s not selected as starter, and Davis if he’s not selected as a starter.
If this were to be the case, and none of Jokic, Durant, or Davis were named a starter, we could write in a few of the reserve spots already:
Reserve guard – Lillard
Reserve guard – Westbrook
Reserve frontcourt – Jokic
Reserve frontcourt – Durant
Reserve frontcourt – Davis
Wild card –
Wild card –
Doncic is kind of like the mystery in figuring out how many extra roster spaces will be available. If he makes the starting group, then Durant, Davis, and Jokic will likely be selected as the reserves. If he doesn’t make the starting group, then the coaches would have to select him as a reserve. Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr has already said publicly he thinks Doncic is an All-Star. How many other coaches though would make Doncic a reserve considering his team is currently 12th in the standings?
The next question is who gets rewarded from the other teams currently in the playoff picture?
The Clippers currently sit 6th in the standings and Tobias Harris looks like their candidate to be an All-Star. The Spurs are 7th in the standings and they have both DeRozan and Aldridge as their candidates.
What if the Jazz, Kings, Timberwolves, or Grizzlies get into the playoff picture before January 31? Then that brings Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Mike Conley into the conversation.
For now, if the coaches want to reward a player from a current playoff team, then it looks like that would be DeRozan and Harris. If Doncic is selected too, that would likely leave Aldridge as the odd-man out. If Doncic or Harris aren’t selected, then Aldridge probably gets in.
Aldridge and Harris’ season stats are almost identical, and choosing which player gets in could come down to where the Clippers and Spurs are in the standings on the day the coaches send in their votes.
Aldridge’s season: 20.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, played in 100% of games
Harris’ season: 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, played in 100% of games
Now, you may be asking why I keep putting DeRozan in over Aldridge even though they’ve played the same number of games and both been responsible for the Spurs’ season turning around, but, in my opinion, I keep mentioning DeRozan more due to one key word – consistency.
By looking at each of their seasons by 10 games in terms of points, rebounds, assists, and net rating, you can see that DeRozan has consistently been there for San Antonio not just in scoring and rebounding, but creating for his teammates too:
|Games 1-10||26.4 p, 6.4 r, 6.8 a, +3.6||18.6 p, 9.8 r, 3.1 a, -0.8|
|Games 11-20||23.1 p, 5.6 r, 5.7 a, -5.3||17.5 p, 12 r, 2 a, -3.3|
|Games 21-30||21.3 p, 4.6 r, 5.9 a, -4.2||20.4 p, 7 r, 1.2 a, -7.9|
|Games 31-40||19.3 p, 8 r, 7 a, +13.1||23 p, 5.9 r, 3.4 a, +18.1|
|Games 41-44||17.3 p, 6.5 r, 7 a, -6.8||27.8 p, 7.8 r, 2.5 a, +0.7|
The Spurs are only two games back from the 3rd seed right now, if they could push their way up to the top-3 before the coaches turn in their ballots, then they’d have a better argument to have two All-Star representatives. For now, though, if they’re hovering in the 5-8 range, one All-Star selection looks like the most likely scenario.
Data collected as of 01/13/2019 at 3:45 pm CST.
P.S. This is my prediction of what the All-Star roster out West will look like based on todays’ information:
Starters: Curry, Harden, James, George, Durant Reserves: Westbrook, Lillard, Jokic, Doncic, Davis, DeRozan, Harris