The 2015 NBA All-Star game rosters are set, with the Atlanta Hawks sending three players to the Eastern team, more than anyone else in the league, with Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, Jeff Teague (Hawks) and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors all making their first appearance in the best exhibition game North American sports leagues have to offer.
Jeff Teague (debut), Paul Millsap (2nd appearance) and Al Horford (3rd appearance) come from the team on the longest winning streak this season (17 games), all appearing on the bench. They’re joined by Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat (10th appearance), Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls (debut), Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat (11th) and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers making his third appearance in the All-Star game. He’s also the MVP of last year’s edition.
Starting for the East will be Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, John Wall of the Washington Wizards (2nd appearance), LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (11th appearance), Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks (8th appearance) and Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls (5th appearance). Wade might be out for a while with a hamstring injury, so there’s a chance he won’t be a part of this game in the end.
Things are a bit deeper in the Western conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder send two players to the bench – Russell Westbrook (4th selection) and Kevin Durant (6th), despite Durant missing almost half the games so far this season if not more, which means that many don’t see him as deserving to be in the game. LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers (4th), Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs (15th), Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors (debut), James Harden of the Houston Rockets (3rd) and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (8th) fill up the ranks.
Starting? Stephen Curry of the Warriors (2nd), Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (2nd), Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies (2nd) and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers (5th). What about the fifth player? Kobe Bryant was selected by the fans, but he’s out for the season, which mean either Harden of Thompson will take his place in the starting lineup.
But what about those who didn’t make it? The East doesn’t really have someone who should feel like he’s been left out. Maybe Kyle Korver of the Hawks (who might still make it), Brandon Knight from the Milwaukee Bucks or Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic can be thrown into some debate, but overall the East have the best team they can assemble in terms of what players have done this season. Derrick Rose hasn’t been good enough or better than the guards selected, and the same goes for Kevin Love.
The debate is a bit more interesting out West. Damian Lillard is having another fantastic season, averaging 21.8 points and 6.2 assists per game. Numbers aren’t everything, but he’s probably been better than Chris Paul so far this season. DeMarcus Cousins with his 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game has also been left out, while Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant, clearly inferior to him this season or not playing enough, get the not to be on the bench.