The True All-Stars, 2022-2023 Western Conference
Not who will be, but who should be
Yesterday, we looked at the most deserving All-Stars in the East. Now, we turn our heads toward the land of the setting sun.
The Western All-Stars will have more variability than the Eastern side, thanks to injuries to many of the best players. I generally use games played more as a tiebreaker than anything else, but as you’ll see, exceptions apply.
We’ll stick to the rules: two starting guards, three starting frontcourt players, the same number of backups, and two positionless wildcards for a 12-man roster. In addition, I’ll add a few honorable mentions, the guys who should be next in line if there is an injury.
G: Luka Doncic, Mavericks
G: Steph Curry, Warriors
FC: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
FC: LeBron James, Lakers
FC: Domantas Sabonis, Kings
The starters gave me a lot of trouble this year.
Doncic, however, did not. He’s played a ton of games and is averaging 34/9/9. Those numbers are so good my keyboard italicized them automatically, like it knew they deserved special attention. Despite the Atlas-level load he’s carrying, Doncic is still posting above-average shooting numbers, and he might look even more impressive if his entire team hadn’t been ice-cold for the first two months of the year. A promising defensive start has slowly given away to some of the same old bad habits, but he’s still improved on that end.
Incredibly, two old-ass players are having seasons rivaling their best. Steph is about to turn 35 in a couple of months but rains plasma from his fingertips from every spot on the court. Golden State’s starting lineup is the best high-usage lineup in the league by far (although they’ve tweaked it of late to put in Jordan Poole instead of Kevon Looney — we’ll see how long that sticks). LeBron is 38 — 38! — and averaging 30/9/7 while shooting 60% from two and approaching his career-high in rebounds per game. They both are locks as starters.
Jokic is on track for a third-straight MVP. You all know how I feel about Jokic. He’s starting.
The last frontcourt spot is tricky. I think Anthony Davis has been the best center in the West, not named Jokic, but he’s barely played half the season. Zion, too, has suffered through absences and can’t be my starter despite otherworldly performances and vastly-improved defense.
So that leaves us with Domantas Sabonis, the steel rod upon which the Kings’ incendiary offense rests. Sabonis is averaging more than seven assists per game as a center, which would be jaw-dropping if not for that darn Jokic ruining statistics forever. Domantas is tenth in touches per game. He’s leading the league in rebounding and shooting 61% from the field. Sabonis is setting career-highs in FG%, FTA, FT%, and DRB, and he’s steering a punch-line franchise to a top-four seed in the West. There’s not much more he could be doing, honestly.
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