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2021 NBA ALL-STARS

@TheWillBaldwin

What’s popping on Air-Ball

If this process taught me anything in 2021 it’s that this league is full of top-flight talent. I cut multiple players in each conference I expected as locks coming in, it’s safe to say the league is in an incredible place right now.

A suggestion I would have is for the league to expand the rosters to 14 or 15 because right now the punitive nature for tiebreaking players feels ridiculous. 

Enough complaining from me though, I now present you my 2021 NBA All-Stars! 

East

Starters

G- Jaylen Brown

He may not be the Celtic’s best player long term but so far this season he has been by a sizable margin. 

G- Bradley Beal

The league’s scoring leader is working with next to nothing and still somehow has been efficient in every way scoring the basketball. 

F- Giannis Antetokounmpo

The two-time reigning MVP may not win a third straight but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been the same level of absurd this season for Milwaukee. 

F- Joel Embiid

My MVP and also in my opinion the single best player in the league this season, Embiid has been a monster for new head coach Doc Rivers and the Sixers. 

F- Kevin Durant

Somehow off an Achilles Durant is putting up similar numbers to his MVP season, he’s truly one of the greats this game has ever seen. 

This should be everyone’s starting five. I know it’s mine so it sounds obvious for me to say it but these have been far and away the five best players in the conference so far. It’s not like in the West where you can make a case for Luka, each of these guys has been in their own ways dominant and special on the court this season. 

The frontcourt is full of MVP level players and the backcourt is a duo of dominant offensive engines for their teams. These have been the five best players in the East this season and I don’t want to hear any discussion otherwise. 

Bench

G- James Harden

The league’s assist king has been phenomenal in Brooklyn.

G- Kyrie Irving

Sure he missed some games but when he’s been on the court, Irving has been the definition of box office as usual. 

F- Jayson Tatum

Last year was no fluke, Tatum is already an NBA star. 

F- Khris Middleton

He may not have the biggest name in the NBA but his game deserves automatic All-Star recognition. 

F- Bam Adebayo

Mr. Improvement himself has been the only reason Miami has any wins this season as he continues to add to his game. 

WC- Trae Young

I may not love his defence but there are very few offensive players as impactful and important to their team as Young is to the Hawks. 

WC- Zach LaVine

On damn near 50/40/90 splits LaVine is putting up 28 a game coupled with improved playmaking and better effort on defence, if Beal and Young make this team LaVine has to as well. 

HM: Domantas Sabonis, Ben Simmons, Fred VanVleet, Nikola Vucevic, Jerami Grant

To be quite honest, all of the non-wild cards were locks for me to make this team. Harden and Irving have been special in Brooklyn together and then Tatum, Middleton and Adebayo have been uniquely impactful to their respective teams.

The tougher choices came in the wild cards. Young made it due to the sheer importance of him to the Hawks. If we were to rank players in the NBA over who means the most to what their team does, Young would be on a shortlist of the league’s most important. 

LaVine on the other hand was a little tighter. What pushed him over the edge though was his efficiency, playmaking improvement and overall value to the Bulls. Sure, guys like Sabonis, Vucevic and Grant mean a lot to their respective teams but LaVine has been on a simply higher-level than them individually and for that, he makes it in my final Eastern Conference spot. 

West

Starters

G- Damian Lillard

No CJ, no Nurkic, no problem, it’s been Dame time all season in Portland as the Blazers have once again survived a plague of injuries to be a playoff team. 

G-Stephen Curry

Turns out the second-best point guard of all-time is good no matter the situation with his teammates, who would’ve guessed?

F- LeBron James

He’s LeBron. 

F- Nikola Jokic

Jokic is top five in assists, 9th in points and top two in like every analytic, he’s a lock of locks for this game. 

F- Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi looks like a man on a mission this season leading the Clippers to a top-three record in the West. 

The West starters this season is much harder than the East’s (as always). 

At guard, all of Lillard, Curry and Doncic are more than worthy. I went with Dame and Steph though simply with the tiebreaker that their teams have been better than Luka’s and it feels like they’ve gotten the absolute most out of themselves and their teammates.

Meanwhile, at forward, LeBron and Jokic are obvious locks. The only question came between Kawhi and Davis and the tiebreaker went to Kawhi due to the fact he’s been slightly better than Davis on the offensive end with a bigger responsibility as well. 

Bench

G- Luka Doncic

Now that he’s in shape, Luka is as good as anyone in basketball with the ball in his hands. 

G- Donovan Mitchell

The offensive engine for the best team in basketball and the key stabilizer for when Gobert is off the court, few guards matter more to their team’s success than Mitchell in Utah. 

F- Anthony Davis

His offence has been a little down this year but even saying that is a nitpick of all nitpicks, AD is an All-Star lock in 2021. 

F- Rudy Gobert

The most valuable player on the league’s best team needs to be in the All-Star game, simple as that. 

F- Paul George

George looks back and healthy in 2021, on a mission to prove his many haters wrong. 

WC- Chris Paul

Before CP3, the Suns were a joke and now they’re a lock playoff team, what this man does to change the culture and impact winning wherever he is can’t be overstated. 

WC- De’Aaron Fox 

I know not many watch Kings games but what Fox does for that team with so little help around him and actually wins some games as well has been one of the more impressive jobs this NBA season. 

HM: Zion Williamson, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Devin Booker

Much like the East, the non-wild cards were about as obvious as it gets. Luka and PG have been absurd individually, Davis has been his usual monstrous self (although slightly worse than last season) and Gobert and Mitchell are the engines of the league’s best team.

In terms of the wild cards, CP3 has been CP3 this season and when he’s that, he’s an All-Star. What he’s done to change the culture and help the Suns get back to relevancy can’t be overstated but in a hall of fame career, this is just another example of him doing this. 

The final spot came down to Fox and one of Conley or SGA. I gave it to Fox because when compared with Conley, he’s just asked to do so much more with so much less than him and still the Kings have put together a respectable record.

That record ended up being the final nail in SGA’s coffin. As shocking as OKC has been this year, they’re still multiple games back of the Kings and that’s as much to do with Fox as anyone else. 

DeRozan, Booker and Williamson were all on another tier, slightly below Conley and SGA despite how good all have been so far this season.

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