Wednesday, July 24, 2024

NBA All-Star Snubs: De’Aaron Fox, Derrick White have biggest beefs; Trae Young could replace Julius Randle

The 2024 NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday, seven spots each for the Eastern and Western Conferences, and, at first glance, it wouldn’t appear that there were any egregious snubs. 

As always, there were multiple players with strong cases who were left off. But of course, identifying who these “snubs” should’ve replaced is a tougher assignment. First things first, here are the rosters for each conference, then we’ll get to the snubs.

Eastern Conference 

Western Conference

Biggest Snubs

The Kings certainly deserved to have at least one All-Star, if not two, but who should Fox replace? Towns? That would be the most logical choice, but the coaches obviously decided the West’s No. 1 seed needed two All-Stars and it’s hard to argue with them. Towns has been really good, though personally I would’ve given the nod to Rudy Gobert if we had to have two Wolves. 

Fox not making the cut isn’t so much about who he should’ve made it over as it is more evidence that the league probably needs to expand the All-Star rosters given the ever-deepening talent pool and the scoring boom we are experiencing — because if 27.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals on 38% 3-point shooting (at a high volume) isn’t an All-Star, I don’t know what is. 

Only two of the league’s top-15 scorers are not All-Stars: Fox and Trae Young. With Young, you can argue the Hawks stink. But the Kings are 5th in the West and over nine points better per 100 possessions when Fox is on the court, per Cleaning the Glass. 

Even without Domantas Sabonis on the court, Fox keeps the Kings as a positive team, whereas they drop to a -6 point differential when it’s Sabonis playing without Fox, per CTG. If there’s an injury replacement (Davis and James are currently dealing with issues), I would bet on Fox getting the nod. 

I agree with the coaches that the Wolves have earned two All-Stars, but personally I think Gobert should’ve been in over Towns. It’s pretty simple: Minnesota owns the second-best record in the league because of its top-ranked defense, and Gobert is the anchor of that unit. 

The coaches rewarded Minnesota’s two best offensive players, but their 19th-ranked offense isn’t why they win. Now, the Wolves would be disastrous offensively without Towns, who makes them at least passable as probably the greatest big-man shooter in history. And it’s true, at least on paper, that Towns actually means more to Minnesota’s offense than Gobert does to the defense, but Edwards, who is awesome in both ways, is representing the offense. To me, the league’s best defense should also have a representative. 

Sabonis leads the league in rebounding and is nearly averaging a triple-double at 19.9 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists per game. He’s shooting 62 percent from the field. He leads the league in double-doubles. He also has played every single game, which has to count for something. 

Still, I’m not going to call Sabonis a snub because he’s not the best player on his own team and the Kings haven’t been good enough to demand two spots. If you believe that Sabonis has been better than Anthony Davis, I wouldn’t agree with you, but I wouldn’t argue with you, either. Given the difference in record for the Kings and Lakers, you could certainly make a case that Sabonis deserved to get in over Davis. 

Harden has been superb, and the Clippers‘ offense goes to the moon when he’s on the court. He has blended with George and Leonard better than even the most ardent supporters of that trade could have hoped for. He’s cut down on his 3-point attempts, but he’s still taking over six a game and connecting at a career-high 41% clip. 

He’s has been awesome, and there’s no doubt about it. Harden is averaging about six points fewer per game than George, but that’s by design. Harden is the facilitator, and George is the elite catch-and-shoot option. You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong if you said Harden should have been the second Clipper over George, but I personally think the coaches got it right. 

Markkanen has been fantastic this season. We’re talking about a guy who’s got a case as a top-20 player in the league. He’s averaging over 23 points and eight boards per game. Mind you, this is also a seven-footer shooting 40% from 3-point land on eight attempts per game. Utah might be a .500 team, but it falls off a cliff without Markkanen, going from a +2.7 per 100 possessions to a -10.8 when he sits, per CTG. 

The question isn’t whether Markkanen is an All-Star player. He is. The question, as with all these guys, is who would he replace? I don’t think it would’ve been egregious to only give the Wolves one spot and put Markkanen in over Towns., but if that spot was going to go to one of these snubs, I think all three of Fox, Sabonis and Harden would be ahead of Markkanen. 

I’d love to seen Sengun in the All-Star game just for the one-legged jumpers. A Jokic lite, Sengun is one of my favorite players in the league to watch. He possesses so much skill for that size. Sengun is a feel passer, with a feathery touch on every shot, no matter how unconventional, that he takes. 

Two Western Conference players are averaging at least 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Jokic is one. Sengun in the other. He’s a rapidly emerging superstar and is already a worthy All-Star, but if Towns is the guy most would say he could replace, let’s not underestimate Towns averaging 23 and 8 on 44% 3-point shooting for the best team in the conference. I’m fine with Sengun missing out, but he deserves the mention here. 

If you gave Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla a heavy does of truth serum and asked him who he would rather be without in a playoff series, Derrick White or Brown, I’d bet good money he would say Brown, who is an All-Star. White doesn’t have Brown’s traditional numbers, but he is indispensable, as evidenced by his team-high +8.3 point differential per 100 possessions, per CTG. 

White is a better defender than Brown. He’s also better shooter and a far better ball handler. But Brown scores more, and that feels more All-Star worthy. I think White should’ve made it, but I understand why Brown is going to Indianapolis instead. 

The fact is, Boston’s play to this point could’ve warranted three All-Stars, though that likely would’ve left the Knicks with only one or taken Banchero out and diss the Magic. White over Banchero, who hasn’t shot it well but is such an obvious star player, makes sense, and if you want to argue White over Randle, I would understand it. 

It might be a moot point, because Randle is out 2-3 weeks with a dislocated shoulder and won’t be playing in the All-Star game, and White could very well be the replacement. Embiid is a good bet to miss the ASG as well. If two injury replacements are named, White had better be one of them. 

Two players in the league are averaging at least 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Embiid, and Barnes, who has become the foundational superstar the Raptors maintained he would be. 

Now that he’s shooting, Barnes does everything on the court. He’s a natural playmaker. He is long, instinctive and an impact defender. I have never loved Barnes’ game because I’m (probably overly) bias toward shooting, but even I can’t deny how good he’s become. He has a case over Randle, but so does White and the next guy on this list. 

Statistically, Young is having arguably the best season of his career at 27 points and 11 assists per game. He’s shooting the 3 at 37%, a nice development for a guy who has never been as a good a shooter as his reputation would suggest. Young has created more points via assist than any player in the league, per PBP stats. 

At the end of the day, the coaches made it clear by not picking guys like Young and Barnes in the East and Markkanen and Sengun in the West: Winning matters, and the Hawks, at seven games under .500, are the most disappointing team in the league. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Young gets named as Randle’s injury replacement. Chris Mannix reports that Young is among the players who will be considered. 

Remember what i said about giving Mazzulla truth serum and asking him which players he would miss the most if they couldn’t go in a playoff series? I said Mazzulla would take White over Brown, and I also think he would take Porzingis over Brown, too. 

Zinger’s spacing and rim protection means more to Boston than any one thing Brown does. But Brown is the All-Star, and I’m not even saying that’s wrong. This is more about the way the particular pieces of the Celtics fit. 

Either way, Porzingis has been statistically good this season but not great: 19 points, seven rebounds, 36% from 3. Two Celtics already got in. I can’t make a terribly strong case for Porzingis, who has also only played in 35 games, as a third. Could Porzingis replace Randle or potentially Embiid? Only time will tell.

Allen is averaging 15 and 10 and anchors the second-best defense in the league. He’s also only missed six games. The Cavaliers took off when Evan Mobley went down with Allen not tied to two-big lineups. He doesn’t have the profile of your typical All-Star, but in terms of value, he’s played like one this season. 

Having said that, who comes out? Adebayo? It’s not a totally crazy thought experiment, but I don’t think you could justify it in the end. Banchero is also just a better player. Perhaps Allen can be Randle’s injury replacement, but I also doubt that. 

I’m putting Turner here only because Chris Mannix is reporting that he is among the players who will be considered as Randle’s injury replacement. I find that to be crazy. There can’t be any way Turner would get that honor over a White, Young or even over the aforementioned Allen. Turner is good, but not good enough in this deep a talent pool. He was not snubbed. He is not an All-Star. Injury replacement or otherwise. 

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