The NBAon Thursday night, completing the 12-man rosters for each conference. But it wouldn't be an All-Star game if we didn't toss in a bit of controversy – i.e., the All-Snub Team.
The Eastern Conference All-Stars are starters Giannis Antetokpounmpo, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid, plus reserves Bradley Beal, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Victor Oladipo, Ben Simmons and Nikola Vucevic. At least one additional player will be added to the East roster to replace the injured Oladipo.
The Western Conference All-Stars are starters LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Paul George and James Harden, plus reserves Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell Westbrook.
As for the snubs? Well, the Western Conference snubs are the more legitimate snubs, since most of these players would have made the All-Star team in the much weaker Eastern Conference.
Western Conference snubs
Gobert is the biggest snub. Perhaps it's because the Jazz started slow before heating up over the past month to reach seventh in the strong West. But that's not much of reason, since All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and his San Antonio Spurs started slow before heating up. One game separates those two teams in the standings. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has been outstanding for the Jazz this season. Not only is he the fulcrum of one of the NBA's top defenses, but Gobert's offensive numbers are also up across the board. He's among the NBA's leaders in effective field goal percentage. Gobert has become one of the best lob-catchers in the league; he currently leads the NBA in dunks. Advanced stats love him: Gobert ranks first in win shares and in the top 10 in box plus/minus -- the only player to rank in the top 10 in that metric who is not an All-Star. Gobert and the Jazz were robbed.
The second-biggest All-Star snub. Doncic has been having an historic rookie season, averaging 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and a handful of jaw-dropping moments per game. There have been three rookies over the past 40 years to average more than 20-5-5: Tyreke Evans, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Some brutal competition for All-Star spots in the West. Maybe if the Mavericks were more in the playoff hunt, Doncic would have made the team.
Yeah, his game ain't sexy, but it sure is effective – and this is the best season of the soon-to-be-free-agent's career. Harris is averaging 21.2 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting a red-hot 43.3 percent from 3. You know how many other players are averaging 20-plus points and 7-plus rebounds while shooting upwards of 40 percent from 3? One: All-Star Paul George.
Yeah, the Jazz weren't going to get two players on the All-Star team, but they certainly should have gotten at least one. I wouldn't quibble with either Gobert or Mitchell. Mitchell struggled mightily to start the season, as did the Jazz, but he's stepped up in a major way in the past month as the Jazz have surged. On the season Mitchell is averaging 22.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists, but over the past 14 games, as the Jazz have gone 11-3, Mitchell has averaged 28.3 points and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 42.6 percent from 3.
Fox has been the standard-bearer for a Kings team that's been one of the most surprising stories in the NBA, not to mention one of the most fun to watch. His 3-point shooting is much improved, and he's averaging 17.4 points and 7.2 assists per game.
Look, I don't think Booker deserves to be an All-Star this season. His team is terrible, and Booker is too much of a wallflower on defense. But the fact remains that Booker's scoring 24.8 points per game, higher than any other player who didn't make the All-Star teams, and has shown lots of progress playing the point. He's carrying such a burden for a bad team; Booker has the third-highest usage percentage in the NBA.
Eastern Conference snubs
Siakam will be an All-Star soon enough -- but boy has he looked like an All-Star at points this season. Siakam does it all for this Raptors team on both ends of the court. He's only going to get better.
Ditto for Tatum: He'll be an All-Star sooner instead of later. Tatum is the second-leading scorer for a Celtics team that, even though it has underachieved, still ought to be one of the favorites to make the Finals from the East.
I would have strongly considered going with Bledsoe over his teammate Khris Middleton. Middleton was awesome over the first month or so of the season; since Dec. 1, he's only averaging 16 points per game, and his shooting percentage has dipped dramatically. Bledsoe has been a more vital part of the Bucks' success than Middleton has.
The Nets lost Caris LeVert to a devastating injury. Then they lost Spencer Dinwiddie to a less-devastating injury. Yet they are still in the thick of the playoff race, and Russell, who is averaging close to 20 points per game has been a big reason. Over the past month Russell has averaged 24.3 points per game and shot upward of 40 percent from 3. He's finally living up to something close to his draft potential.
I live in Minneapolis, so even though Butler certainly deserved an All-Star bid over a couple of guys who made the cut, I do not feel particularly bad for him.