2023 NBA All-Stars: Young Stars, Surprises, and Snubs
The National Basketball Association announced players selected for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The National Basketball Association announced its 2023 All-Stars on Feb. 2. After a thrilling first half of the season, some of the league's top talent will be spending a weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah, to put on a show in front of the whole world. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown from the Boston Celtics were selected as all-stars, with Tatum being selected as a starter.
For those who are not familiar with the complexities of the recent NBA all-star format, the voting process features a 50% vote from fans, 25%t from players, and another 25% from the media. This gives the two All-Star captains, the most popular players from each conference, a pool of 22 other players – 11 from each conference – to “draft” and play alongside them. This year’s All-Star draft will take place right before the contest on Feb. 19, adding more uncertainty and potential surprises to the already exciting event. As for the game itself, both teams will play through three 12-minute quarters, determining a final “target score” to seal the win. The “target score” will be the leading team’s cumulative score of the first three quarters played adding 24 points – in memory of the legendary Kobe Bryant.
The final list of the 2023 NBA All-Stars features superstars such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and many more. And just as this NBA season has showcased, we can observe some young talents and surprises in the selection. Among the player pool, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Haliburton, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Utah’s very own Lauri Markennen entered the All-Star category for the first time in their career. Averaging career-highs in both scoring and assists, Haliburton has done a great job leading the Indiana Pacers and surprising the critics amid low pre-season projections. Gilgeous-Alexander has been bringing the Oklahoma City Thunder some clutch-time wonders, making a strong case for being the most improved player of the year. Compared to his first-year colleagues, Jackson Jr. is arguably a questionable selection. He did not make the list as one of the fans’ favorites and has missed a significant number of games due to injuries.
This leads us to look into some of the biggest snubs of this year’s list, where some of my subjectivity will come into play. Also playing at the position of a power forward, Aaron Gordon from the Denver Nuggets could deserve the frontcourt spot more than Jackson Jr. While Gordon and Jackson have put up similar numbers on the stat sheet, with similar team records, Gordon has done it in a much more efficient fashion and has suited up for more contests. In the Eastern Conference, James Harden is possibly the biggest snub of the year. Currently ranked 7th on the Kia Most Valuable Player ladder, Harden is averaging 21.4 points while leading the league in assists. Comparing the selected guards to Harden’s significance and his team record, Jrue Holiday has much less of an offensive contribution while Demar Derozan is failing to lead the Chicago Bulls into playoff contention. This controversy demonstrates how competitive it is to play as a guard in the NBA. De'Aaron Fox has worked hand-in-hand with his selected teammate Domantas Sabonis in making the Sacramento Kings one of the winningest teams in the Western Conference but remained unselected despite impactful performance. Lastly, there were also debates around whether Jalen Brunson or Julius Randle is the more deserving New York Knick to be chosen as an All-Star. Brunson has been putting up Curry’s level of offensive efficiency and has stepped up more consistently during clutch times. He has also improved the Knicks game by putting the scoring pressure off of Randle and lifting the team into the 7th in the East. With the recent leg injury sustained by Curry, followed by the trade of Kyrie Irving to the Western Conference, Brunson has a chance to earn his All-Star honor and play in Utah on Feb. 19. At the end of the day, again, being a guard in the NBA is not easy, but Brunson definitely deserves the credit.
The NBA All-Star weekend will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, from Feb. 17 to 19. In addition to the wonders of the All-Star game, this year’s All-Star weekend will feature a mini-tournament among four teams of rising NBA stars and G League talents. The dunk contest will, reportedly, spotlight the first-ever G League player participating in the event – Mac McClung. If injuries stop disrupting our wait for the All-Star game, the fans can expect James soaring in his 19th All-Star contest, Tatum and Brown sinking signature jumpers, and Ja Morant dunking over whoever’s in his way live from the Utah Jazz’s home, Vivint Arena.
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