The 2022 NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday night, and, as always, a few deserving players were left off due to the 12-player limit from both conferences. (Perhaps this could be avoided if they expanded the rosters to 15 players, as NBA rosters are now, from each conference, but that’s a question for another day.)
Here, we’ll take a look at some players who certainly merited consideration from the coaches for a spot on this year’s squad, and should be at the top of Adam Silver’s list for injury replacements as Draymond Green confirmed he won’t play in the February 20th exhibition and Kevin Durant may very well miss the game as well.
(Some players who deserve a shoutout for their play this season and have a case, but aren’t included below are: Clippers forward Paul George, Lakers forward Anthony Davis, one of Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Suns center DeAndre Ayton, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam and Heat guard Kyle Lowry, among others.)
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
Record wise, the Spurs are not what they have so often been for the last two decades, and that perhaps hurt Murray’s candidacy. But Murray has unquestionably blossomed into a star this year, developing into a two-way force and the best player on this iteration of the Spurs. He’s near the top of the league in both steals and deflections while maintaining his offensive efficiency despite taking on a much larger role. At 25, Murray looks to be realizing his full potential and looks like one of the best two-way guards in the league. That sounds like an All-Star — and at least Draymond Green agrees, as he stumped for Murray to take his place on the TNT broadcast.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant, an All-Star starter, was a lock to represent Memphis in Cleveland, earning a starter’s spot. But if the ascendent Grizzlies were to nab a second All-Star, Jackson would the choice. As a floor spacer around Morant and a growing flexible defensive presence, he’s starting to realize the unicorn potential he’d flashed in his his previous three NBA seasons. Most notably, he’s averaging a career-high in points (16.6 per game) and blocks (2.3 per game) so far this year, and is a legitimate DPOY candidate.
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
Allen has been one of the most efficient players in the league this year (he’s shooting 67.8% from the field so far this season) and is the backbone of Cleveland’s top-three rated defense. For the year, the 23-year-old Allen is averaging a double-double for the first time in his career.
If Garland — a deserving All-Star in his own right because of the offensive load he’s carried for the Cavs — is the headliner for Cleveland in addition to Evan Mobley, then Allen is the connector. Not everything is built around him, but he makes everything work.
Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are on the up-and-up right now, making a real push towards the top-six of the Eastern Conference as the season gets closer to the All-Star break.
Both Bridges and Ball would have worthwhile All-Star picks. Bridges is averaging 19.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per night and has been a key versatile piece as the Hornets have started to figure it out. Ball, meanwhile, is the engine that makes everything go for Charlotte on offense, averaging 19.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. The Hornets’ top-five offense thrives in large part because of Ball’s ability to pass and create for others in addition to scoring on his own. From a sheer “fun” perspective, these two seem tailor made for an All-Star Game with Bridges high-flying abilities and Ball regularly throwing outrageous passes in actual NBA games.
[Update: Some of the players on this list are now going to the All-Star game as injury replacements.]