What’s popping on Air-Ball?
- NBA ROOKIE REPORT: ROOKIE GUARDS BALL, CAMPAZZO AND ANTHONY WORKING TO LEARN THE NBA GAME
- WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE DALLAS MAVERICKS?
- BUY OR SELL: SPURS AND CELTICS QUIETLY READY TO TAKE OFF WHILE THE WIZARDS AND PISTONS ARE IN SHAMBLES
- GAMBLING AGAINST GREATNESS: CAN THE SUNS AND BLAZERS OVERCOME INJURIES??
- BAM ADEBAYO CONTINUES TO DEFY THE ODDS ON A PATH TO NBA SUPERSTARDOM
Since the NBA has decided to have an All-Star game in this bizarre COVID-19 season (for some reason), I thought it’d be fun to write about which guys I’d like to see make the All-Star team for the first time.
Jaylen Brown has been so good this year it’s more of an interesting debate if he’ll make an All-NBA team than the All-Star one. Brown is averaging a career-high 26.6 points per game on the best efficiency of his career from everywhere. His most noticeable improvement has been as a shot creator, particularly in the midrange. Just 45 per cent of his twos have been assisted this season and yet Brown has top of the league level efficiency across the board in the midrange. He’s also been exceptional from three at 42.9 per cent and is for the first time in his career a ball mover. What I mean by this is prior to 2021, when Brown received the ball he was very unlikely to make a play for a teammate. If the ball found its way to him or the play was for him, he was going to shoot it. This season though, he’s averaging 3.5 assists and his assist per cent is over double his previous high to 19.1 per cent. Now I’m not saying he’s Magic Johnson but the fact he’s no long a black hole has been integral for a Celtics offence that needs playmaking help with Kemba’s injury history and their lack of depth behind Walker. Simply, Brown has been one of the best players in basketball this season and is more than deserving of his first All-Star appearance.
My guy Collin Sexton has been HOOPING in 2021. I call him my guy because I was one of the few who had him above Trae Young in the 2018 draft and although he hasn’t passed Young yet, don’t rule it out. The advances Sexton has taken this year, particularly as a scorer, suggest he is far from his ceiling. The biggest jump has come inside 16 feet, particularly in the 10-16 foot window where he’s shooting over 53 per cent. What’s most surprising about Sexton’s 24.1 points per game is they’re coming with under four three-point attempts a game. Somehow, for a guy shooting 43.5 per cent back there, he’s only taking 3.9 a game. What I’ve also loved in Sexton’s growth is the fact he like Brown has taken a step as a playmaker. Now with over four assist a game and an assist percentage over 20 per cent, he’s much less of the ball hog he was accused of as a rookie. Now, for the first time in his career, across the advanced stats, he’s a plus player. The Young Bull has come a long way since the hit piece on him as a rookie saying he was a bad teammate. If he doesn’t get into the All-Star game this season it’s only a matter of time until he does as Sexton is quietly on the verge of stardom in Cleveland.
Now before I get called out for recency bias on Fred’s 54 point effort last night, hear me out. VanVleet is averaging over 20 points per game on elite efficiency. He’s also playing some of the best defence of any guard in basketball and will get serious All-Defensive team consideration. Then, before you argue the Raptors aren’t good enough for him to make it, VanVleet and the Raptors are currently in ninth and likely by the All-Star game will be higher. Also, if we’re being really honest with ourselves and the Raptors only get one All-Star it should be VanVleet. I love Kyle Lowry as much as anyone but VanVleet has been flat out better than him this year. He’s either the leader or in second to Chris Boucher on virtually every single advanced stat, leads the team in scoring and is only second in assists. VanVleet is having a career season in every respect and is frankly one of the only reasons this Raptors team isn’t much, much worse. As good as guys like Zach LaVine have been this year if it comes down to it when you look at everything FVV has brought to the table this year he deserves to go to Atlanta. From undrafted to an All-Star, god I hope it happens. Remember people, Bet on Yourself.