Basketball, NBA

2024 NBA All-Star Game Starter Selections

By: Kirk Jackson

The starting lineups for the 2023-24 NBA All-Star Game have been unveiled, and there will be plenty of big names and marquee matchups on Feb. 18 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The 73rd edition of the event, in which will be hosted by the Pacers, will mark the return to the traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format.

Quite fitting considering Indiana is considered a basketball state.

James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, once said, “Basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport.” While Indiana cannot claim to be the birthplace of basketball, it has long since called itself the “Home” of basketball.

LeBron James made history by being named to his 20th All-Star Game, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most All-Star nods in NBA history.

Whether James deserves to start is another story. The selections are comprised of voters – (Fans 50%, Media 25% and Players 25%).

Many analysts and publications may be afraid to provide honest commentary, but James, in spite of everything he has accomplished throughout his career, has not played well enough to earn the privilege of starting this year.

He’s averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists this season for the Lakers. Looks great on paper, but he’s a defensive liability and the source behind the scenes, for a series of dysfunction within the front office of the franchise he currently occupies.

James will be joined on the Western Conference team by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

In the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be joined by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Bucks guard Damian Lillard and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton.

LeBron and Antetokounmpo are the captains.

After Thursday’s announcement, there remains plenty to break down. Who will win, who was overlooked, or even, whose selection was the most surprising? Is the return of the East vs. West format going to change how the game is played will this actually be a competitive and visually appeasing contest?

Starting with the West, a notable omission from the West starting lineup is Stephen Curry. Warriors are struggling with many issues from a team-construct aspect. They are also with dealing with the unexpected loss of their beloved assistant coach, “Deki” Dejan Milojevic.

Not even counting stats, watching the game, Curry’s impact is noticeably visible, and he at times keeps his team competitive in most of their contests. But for the record, Curry is averaging 26.9 points per game, along with 4.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds.

Kawaii Leonard, Anthony Edwards and Devin Booker have claims as well.

In the past 20 games Leonard has played (dated as of Jan. 27), the two-time Finals MVP has averaged 25.4 points while shooting 56.5% from the field, 49.5% on 3-pointers and 92.1% on free throws.

He has been the focal point of double teams every game, yet he remains the terminator and he is the only player averaging 25 points on 55% shooting and 90% on free throws since Dec. 1.

Out East, Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson are notable omissions.

Brunson, the New York Knicks guard, is averaging a career-high 26.6 points and shooting 42.3% on 3-pointers. In January, Brunson ranks fifth in points per game (29.0) and ninth in assists (9.0), and has four 40-point games this season, matching his total from last season.

His team is currently fifth in the conference, while Mitchell’s team stands at fourth (dated as of Jan. 27). Brunson is thriving under the pressure and scrutiny of one of the biggest markets in the world, New York city.

Mitchell is scoring 27.6 points per game and has career highs in assists (6.2), rebounds (5.4) and steals per game (1.9).

Mitchell is also carrying the team, even with two major contributors to his team, having missed significant portions of the season thus far due to injuries – Darius Garland and Evan Mobley.

The Cleveland Cavaliers still maintain one of the top records in the conference and much of that is a testament of Mitchell’s all-star acumen.

The reserve selection process will be interesting, as some deserving players will be left out.

Hopefully the upcoming All-Star game marks a return to true competitive basketball, with the collection of great talent in the National Basketball Association.

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