The 2022 NBA All-Star Game is less than a month away, as the festivities in Cleveland are lined up for February 20 (pushed back a week from usual now that the Super Bowl is a week later with the NFL’s new 18-game schedule).
Over the next few weeks, we’ll learn what players will be making the pilgrimage to northeast Ohio to participate in the various events, from the revamped Rising Stars Game to the Saturday night competitions to the game itself on Sunday. Thursday brought word of the first 10 players who will be heading to Cleveland as the All-Star starters (albeit with at least one likely to be replaced due to injury).
The Inside the NBA crew unveiled the starters (delivered in a fancy locked briefcase to ensure no leaks) on Thursday night and there were few surprises. As a reminder, the starters are determined by the fan vote (50 percent), player vote (25 percent), and media vote (25 percent). We’ve gotten weekly fan voting updates throughout the process, so we were aware of who was in the drivers seat for spots, and there only seemed like one position of real question, with Andrew Wiggins holding the third West frontcourt spot with the fans.
Along with the questions about the final West frontcourt spot behind LeBron James and Nikola Jokic, there was some intrigue regarding potential first-time All-Stars landing spots, namely Ja Morant.
Kevin Durant (captain)
LeBron James (captain)
Once again, like last season, LeBron and KD will be holding the All-Star Draft in a couple of weeks once the coaches make their selections for reserves. Unfortunately, also like last year, Durant will likely be drafting a team he won’t be playing on as he continues his recovery from a sprained MCL .
Wiggins remained in that third frontcourt spot the fans had him in, as the West frontcourt picture beyond Jokic and James was muddied by injuries to the usual suspects (Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, etc.) and Wiggins’ career-year on one of the league’s best teams earned him the nod.
Wiggins is joined by fellow first-time All-Star Morant, who has jumped into not just All-Star position but a starting spot with his play this season. Young, meanwhile, earns a second starting nod (after missing out on the All-Star Game last year). The backcourts in both conferences are loaded with talent and securing a spot from the fan/player/media vote is important because there will undoubtedly be a player or two from each conference who felt they belonged as All-Stars this year who will miss out when the reserves are announced.
The full voting breakdown shows how the fan voting carried Wiggins to the third starting spot in the frontcourt as the media and players were split on Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert for third and fourth, with Gobert only getting ninth in fan voting and Green getting sixth. The only other area of contention was the players having Zach LaVine ahead of Trae Young in the East backcourt.