First off, I’d like to make it known that I am battling what appears to be the onset of a pretty nasty cold/flu, so it’s courageous that I’m even writing this at all. It’s true that not all heroes wear capes, because I’m certainly not sporting anything resembling one. Whatever- as we all know, pain is just weakness leaving the body. Better to get this sickness out of the way now so I come out of the woods stronger for the Super Bowl and All Star Weekend. Speaking of All Star Weekend, after last Thursday’s All Star starter revelation, the reserves are being announced tonight. I made my starter picks on Thursday as well, and keen-eyed readers will notice that I did not, in fact, get them 100% correct. I’m not too beat up about it since, in my mind, Embiid and Cousins were locks to make the team, anyway. So as long as my two guys still make it, the NBA can consider it water under the bridge. But, in the immortal words of Stephen A. Smith, you don’t want to make an enemy out of me. Put in Horford and Towns or else! Anyway, here are the only legitimate selections for the All Star reserves in 2017-18.
- Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers– I imagine he’s got Most Improved locked up already, and well deserved. He’s singlehandedly made the Pacers decent (which, depending on your point of view, could actually be a bad thing), and could easily have been named a starter. He’s a stone cold lock.
- Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors– I get that no one takes the Human Peach Emoji or the Raptors seriously, but there’s a reason they have the second best record in the conference. Yes, DeRozan is their best player, but Lowry is just as important. He’s one of the best point guard defenders in the league, knocks down 3s, is a tough rebounder, and just generally makes the team better. I’m not saying they’ll make the Finals or anything, but the 6 deserves two All Stars again.
- Al Horford, Boston Celtics– Already covered.
- Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks– He’s been iiiicccccccccceee cold lately, but the body of work is still there. Finally freed from the shackles of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps became the number one option on a team devoid of scoring. His field goal percentage isn’t great, but he’s also the only guy on the team that can even come close to creating their own shot on a regular basis. He also leads the league in blocks and is a 7’3″ person who handles the ball and shoots 3s. Plus, there would be a riot in New York if he wasn’t named.
- Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons– I get that the team is terrible, but every East team is terrible so it’s okay. Drummond leads the league in rebounding and brought his free throw shooting from “worst in the history of basketball” to “just plain bad,” which means he can actually play the whole game now. Going back to the rebounding, I feel like everyone is just glossing over the fact that he’s getting 15 a game. 15 a game is pretty darn impressive, and the fact that he has to play with Reggie Jackson shouldn’t be held against him. Also, I don’t know if you knew this, but I went to UConn. At the same time as Drummond. It’s almost like we’re friends.
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards– With John Wall having an injury-plagued and weirdly lethargic season, Beal finally makes his All Star debut after a couple years of being left on the outside looking in. Listen, the Wizards stink and I’m glad they stink, but don’t blame Beal. He’s been filling it up all season and playing better D than he ever has. He’s shooting a bizarrely low percentage from 3 for a guy with one of the three most perfect jumpers in the league, but that can’t keep him out.
- Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers– If I could name Erik Spoelstra or the Heat’s Miami Vice jerseys to the team, I would. The Heat piecing together a top-4 record on the strength of a bunch of weird lineups and grit is one of the best stories of the year, but I just can’t see them having an All Star. Goran Dragic comes closest, but his numbers aren’t even his career best. So, I decided to give it to Simmons, because why the hell not? It’d be more fun to have another freak athlete generational passer in the game. He’s a rookie averaging 16-8-7. I’d call that pretty decent.
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder– It’s somehow gone under the radar that he’s almost averaging a triple double again this season.
- Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors– Second greatest shooter of all time having his best shooting season? Yes please.
- Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves– Already covered.
- Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors– Yes, all four Warriors make it. That’s what happens when you’re one of the greatest teams of all time. The reigning DPOY should probably win it again this year, and he’s the Warriors best passer. You don’t have to like him, but you have to respect him.
- LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs– Somehow the Spurs keep on keeping on, and Aldridge turning back into Blazers Aldridge is the biggest non-Pop reason. He’s tying the highest offensive rating of his career and is in the middle of the West’s best defense. Without Kawhi, Aldridge is the annual Spurs representative.
- Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves– I know I was staunchly anti-Jimmy in the offseason, but that was only in regards to the Celtics selling the farm to acquire him. But as long as a different team went all in on him, I like him. And, so far, I’d have to say the Wolves are pretty happy with their investment. He’s just a junkyard dog on both ends of the floor. I think he could play 3 games in one day. He’s changed the proverbial culture in Minnesota.
- Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder– Apologies to Damian Lillard, who I genuinely feel bad for. If he was in the East or born five years earlier or later he’d have a million All Star and All NBA appearances, but, alas, he’s stuck being the fifth best guard in the West. He might make the team this year, but I like George. He’s shooting a career high 3 point percentage and, in my opinion, has been the best perimeter defender in the league this season. Aside from his low field goal percentage, PG can claim the prestigious honor of being the only player Russell Westbrook has ever made better.