Nikola Jokic Denver
Photo: Denver Nuggets

The two starting rosters for the NBA All-Star game were released recently. When you look at the ten names listed, it is hard to really disagree with either the Eastern or Western Conference teams. Giannis Antetokounmpo will captain the East as you might expect, and he will be joined on-court by Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam. Over in the West, LeBron James will lead out a star-studded line-up that also includes Luka Doncic, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard.

The way the starters are voted for means the system is fair, transparent and beyond criticism: players, fans and the media all get to have their say, with fan voting accounting for 50% of the final shake-up and the player/media votes enjoying equal weighting for the other half.

It’s a voting system with integrity, but that’s not to say that there aren’t ‘mistakes’ made in choosing the starting fives. We put mistakes in inverted commas because, ultimately, it is just a question of opinions as to who makes the starting roster. And, realistically, you would be hard-pressed to argue against the quintet that will make up the Western Conference’s representatives.

Having said that, there is surely a case for Nikola Jokic’s current heater run to earn him a spot in the February 17 showpiece, while over in the East there has to be question marks next to the names of a couple of the starting five.

So here’s a look at three players who arguably should be starting in the NBA All-Star game of 2020.

Nikola Jokic

If the All-Star teams are selected based on whole season form, then it would be hard to make a case for Nikola Jovic. But the giant Serbian has hit form recently, averaging 22.8 points and 6.6 assists per game, and the Nuggets’ defense has also improved in-line with Jokic’s own resurgence.

That momentum should arguably give him the edge over Anthony Davis, who has missed plenty of game-time this season and who looks lost at times in offence when he doesn’t have LeBron alongside him. AD is the safe play, given that he is one of the favorites to win the regular season MVP prize in the William Hill betting odds. But Jokic is the player that the Eastern Conference will fear the most.

Jimmy Butler

The East’s frontcourt roster will evolve around Giannis, of course, but otherwise you would have to argue that Siakam and Embiid’s starting positions are under the most intense of scrutiny.

The former has been battling a catalogue of injuries, and you suspect his scoring percentage is down as a result of his ongoing groin problem. Embiid, while putting up All-Star numbers over the course of the whole season, has also suffered from a slump in form just lately, and he has almost played his way out of a starting berth. Instead, it could easily be argued that Jimmy Butler is a far safer pair of hands.

The Miami man is delivering big numbers this term, including 20.3 points per game to go with 7.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists that represent career highs for the versatile forward. At this moment in time, Butler can better handle the pressures of being a playmaking force alongside Giannis and taking the game to the West.

Bradley Beal

When a player is serving up outstanding stats in a losing team, you really do have to take notice. That notion extends to Trae Young, in fairness, but its Bradley Beal who appears to have suffered the most in the voting given the paltry status of the Washington Wizards this term. But dig a bit deeper and you will note a player who is achieving incredible things despite minimal support from those around him. Beal is delivering career highs in points (27.5) and assists (6.3), with 44.5% overall on shooting, and he can count himself unfortunate not to be a starting All-Star.

All of which being said, we’re still in for an absolute treat when the NBA’s finest lock horns in the 2020 All-Star game!