The countdown to the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago is officially underway as voting is now open.
VOTE HERE FOR THE 2020 ALL-STAR GAME
Voting runs from Christmas Day through Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10:29 a.m IST. All details on voting including how, when and where can be found here.
With ballots now flying in fast and furious, we sat down to go through our starters entering Christmas.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): In the Western Conference, I have Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In the Eastern Conference, I have Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
I'm not sure there's much debate in the West. Harden, Doncic and James are all legitimate MVP candidates and Davis isn't far behind them - he ranked fifth in our most recent MVP ladder. Leonard has been in and out of the lineup, but he's been terrific when he's played.
In the East, Walker has been the best point guard in the conference. The Wizards have been one of the worst teams in the conference record-wise, but Beal is having a career year and Washington has been far better than expected.
The hardest decision to make was who is more deserving of the third forward spot among Butler, Siakam and Joel Embiid. For now, I think Butler and Siakam are both more deserving, but that could change in the coming months.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): In the East, I have a frontcourt of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam and Jimmy Butler. According to Basketball Reference, Butler has played 74% of his minutes this season at small forward and 26% at power forward, meaning none of his minutes thus far have come as a guard.
With that being said, Joel Embiid had to be a casualty of my starting frontcourt. Despite still being the best centre in the East, Embiid's number has dropped and he simply isn't playing at the level consistently as the other three. I will acknowledge that we've seen a slight change in him since Charles Barkley and Shaq called him out, but let's see it the rest of the year now.
With Butler in the frontcourt, that leaves me with an open spot at the guard spot. Kemba Walker gets my lead guard vote and Bradley Beal gets my second guard spot. The only hesitancy I had with Beal was that the Wizards are having a tough time putting wins together, but he's having a career year.
Out West, I'm going with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard in my frontcourt, James Harden and Luka Doncic in the backcourt. No Paul George in my starting five because, again, he hasn't played any minutes at the guard spot according to Basketball Reference.
Sorry, Clippers fans.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): In the East, I have Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Joel Embiid is the first name that comes to my mind for players that are being left out. I think you could make a legitimate case for Bam Adebayo, as ridiculous as that sounds, but he's playing as well as anyone in the Eastern Conference right now. I'm sure Kyrie Irving will receive some love from the fan vote, but he's not more deserving than Beal, who has had a very impressive season so far.
In the West, give me Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
This is more of an easy decision for me as Paul George would be the next closest to sneaking into the starting lineup and I don't believe he's any more deserving than the five aforementioned players. Karl-Anthony Towns is another name that comes to mind, but with the success that the Lakers have had, it would be hard to make the case for him over Anthony Davis at that centre position.
The West starters are far more set in stone than the East.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): In the East, I'm going with Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.
Let's get straight to the controversial pick here. Pascal Siakam is VERY unlucky. After starting the season at an MVP level, it appears the toll of leading the Raptors offence was starting to have an impact on the 25-year-old. Over his last 10 appearances, Siakam's scoring average was down to 23.5 points on just 42% from the field. The other factor involved here is the recent news that Siakam is expected to miss an extended period on the sideline with a groin strain.
Siakam is a lock as an All-Star, just not as a starter.
With that reasoning in mind, the up and down Joel Embiid gets the start as he appears to be showing signs of building into his best form despite the odd fitting Sixers roster.
The inclusion of Trae Young over Bradley Beal is a wash with both players putting up huge numbers on losing teams. Give me the highlight-reel plays on Young.
The West is a little less controversial. I think it's clearly Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Four legitimate MVP candidates and the reigning Finals MVP. It's hard to go past that group.
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): For the West, I got Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
MVP arguments can be made for four of these five players, so those picks were not difficult.
On Leonard, we came to know earlier in November that he is "suffering from an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee." So, even though he might not be in the MVP conversation, there is no debate on his skill and talent level.
In the East, I'm picking Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam.
Antetokounmpo is an automatic pick. Kemba Walker and Joel Embiid were the other easy picks given their performances so far this season and their value to their team's records.
The other two selections were really difficult - Beal and picking Siakam over Jimmy Butler.
Beal is averaging career-highs in points and assists. Siakam and Butler average around the same numbers - roughly 20-6-6 for Butler compared to roughly 25-8-4 for Siakam). My reason for picking Siakam is, I believe, he has lesser support with the Raptors' injuries and yet both teams have nearly identical records.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): In the Western Conference, I'm taking Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis
The starters in the West are pretty straight forward, considering four of the five are legitimate MVP candidates. Kawhi Leonard has missed some games, but he's been huge for the Clippers alongside Paul George, who has made a strong case to start in his own right.
Each of these guys have their teams sitting in the top five of the Western Conference and while an argument can be made for the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Damian Lillard, with both of their teams on the brink of the playoffs, it's hard to squeeze them in.
In the East, I'm rolling with Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid
Walker, Antetokounmpo and Siakam are no-brainers to start for me. Jimmy Butler is flat-out balling for the Heat, playing an unselfish style of basketball that has them winning by committee. He probably deserves to start, but the numbers and similar record take Embiid over the top for me.
Bradley Beal's Wizards are struggling record-wise, but the two-time AllStar is putting up career-highs in both scoring and assists. This might be the high-point for the Wizards season.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): The West is too easy. It's a clean sweep as I also have Harden, Doncic, James, Leonard and Davis. There's really nothing to add beyond what's already been said.
The East is pretty straight forward in my eyes as well. If we're slotting Davis at centre in the West, we can move Jimmy Butler to one of the guard spots in the East to take what likely would have been Kyrie Irving's had he not been injured. Butler and Kemba Walker make up the backcourt with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam in the frontcourt.
Now ... if you want to be a sticker with positions, there's an argument to be made that Butler could take Siakam's spot given the injury to the Raptors' forward.
That leaves a guard spot open for Beal, who has far and away been the East's other best guard alongside Walker.
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