The voting for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game starters wrapped up at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday. Did you submit your picks?
Whether you voted or not, we’ll find out the results of those selections Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on TNT. The new selection format for starters means we’ll also learn how NBA players and media members voted and what sort of impact those groups had on the results.
With all that in mind, let’s predict the full rosters for both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. These predictions aren’t necessarily my choices but rather how I believe the teams will shake out.
But first, we’ll quickly review the new All-Star starter selection system and look over the most recent fan voting returns.
Latest Voting Results and Process Explanation
Below are the most recent voting returns, which the 2017 NBA All-Star Twitter account released last Thursday:
The latest #NBAAllStar Voting presented by @Verizon returns!
Vote: https://t.co/7SYpaqHa1f & the NBA App. pic.twitter.com/SXXAebaxx9
— 2017 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 12, 2017
Remember, the system for fan voting is different this season than it has been in past years. Fans’ choices for the All-Star starters only comprise 50 percent of the entire voting. Players and media members each also make up 25 percent of the results. Each player’s placing among his position group with the three different voting factions is weighted according to the previously stated percentages, and the lowest averages in each position group are the starters.
No one should be worried that the Golden State Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia will actually be an All-Star starter, unless players and media members are all in on the gimmick to make it happen. Below is a feasible hypothetical situation, if the most recent fan voting results hold:
Hypothetical situation created by author
As you can see, it shouldn’t be close. Pachulia‘s (presumed) lack of favor among players and media members will make sure his weighted average is too high to start.
Eastern Conference Predictions
|Kyrie Irving||Backcourt 1||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|DeMar DeRozan||Backcourt 2||Toronto Raptors|
|LeBron James||Frontcourt 1||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Frontcourt 2||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Kevin Love||Frontcourt 3||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Kyle Lowry||Backcourt 1||Toronto Raptors|
|Isaiah Thomas||Backcourt 2||Boston Celtics|
|Jimmy Butler||Frontcourt 1||Chicago Bulls|
|Paul George||Frontcourt 2||Indiana Pacers|
|Dwight Howard||Frontcourt 3||Atlanta Hawks|
|John Wall||Wild Card 1||Washington Wizards|
|Kemba Walker||Wild Card 2||Charlotte Hornets|
Predictions are author’s opinion
My predicted Eastern Conference backcourt starters are not the ones I would choose myself. But considering Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan are No. 1 and No. 3 in voting (sandwiching Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls) and are having great seasons for elite teams, I think they’ll get enough player and media support to earn the starting spots.
In the frontcourt, LeBron James is a shoo-in. He leads his position group in voting and is still a top-five MVP candidate. Giannis Antetokounmpo should also be a relatively easy choice, considering his No. 2 spot in the voting and the huge breakout he’s having for the surprising Milwaukee Bucks.
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images
Jimmy Butler has been a top-10 player in the NBA this season. Will players and media members give him the support he needs to start for the East?
The final starting spot comes down to Jimmy Butler and Kevin Love. Both are having outstanding seasons, but Butler’s has been better. I have a feeling players and media members will reward Love for his bounce-back campaign and for the Cavs‘ success, however, to help him barely stave off Butler.
On the bench, Butler, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas and John Wall are all cut-and-dry cases. They’re all the best players for teams in postseason position and are playing the best basketball of their careers. After them, I think Paul George gets in on reputation, and Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker both narrowly get in for having excellent seasons for mediocre-to-good squads.
Honorable mention: Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks), Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks), Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
Western Conference Predictions
|James Harden||Backcourt 1||Houston Rockets|
|Stephen Curry||Backcourt 2||Golden State Warriors|
|Kevin Durant||Frontcourt 1||Golden State Warriors|
|Kawhi Leonard||Frontcourt 2||San Antonio Spurs|
|Anthony Davis||Frontcourt 3||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Russell Westbrook||Backcourt 1||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Damian Lillard||Backcourt 2||Portland Trail Blazers|
|DeMarcus Cousins||Frontcourt 1||Sacramento Kings|
|Marc Gasol||Frontcourt 2||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Draymond Green||Frontcourt 3||Golden State Warriors|
|Gordon Hayward||Wild Card 1||Utah Jazz|
|LaMarcus Aldridge||Wild Card 2||San Antonio Spurs|
Predictions are author’s opinion
The Western Conference has more star power than the East, which makes these picks a bit tougher. Chris Paul’s thumb injury, which Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com says will sideline him for six to eight weeks, does open up one spot.
It’s going to be very close with Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook in the backcourt. Curry is the clear third banana in terms of performance this season, but he has the leg up on both of them in voting for now. Here’s how I think it could end up:
Hypothetical situation created by author
So Westbrook could be relegated to a reserve spot, which he obviously will earn if he isn’t a starter. It’s not every year that a player averages a triple-double while also scoring 30 points per game, after all.
Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard couldn’t be much more obvious choices as starting frontcourt players, and they’ve both done well in the voting thus far. The third spot should go to Anthony Davis, who’d need someone like Draymond Green or DeMarcus Cousins to get an extremely favorable look from players and media members to pass his performance in the voting. Davis is also producing amazing numbers on the court, too, with 29.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
I see DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol and Damian Lillard as near-locks as reserves. After that, the selection of Draymond Green is defensible, considering he has a great shot at the Defensive Player of the Year and is the third-best player on the best team in the league. My predicted wild cards are Gordon Hayward and LaMarcus Aldridge, though Hayward and Utah Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert are probably the more deserving picks. Players and media members will probably want to reward at least one Utah player for the team’s strong season and two San Antonio Spurs for their excellent campaign.
Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Despite getting easier shots this season in the Golden State Warriors’ vaunted offense, Klay Thompson’s efficiency has slipped a bit. Will that hurt him in the All-Star selection process?
Also, here are my thoughts on Klay Thompson, who many probably expect to make the cut: His player efficiency rating (15.9) and win shares per 48 minutes (0.105) are both three-year lows, per Basketball-Reference.com, and worse numbers in those categories than any other player listed on either of the predicted rosters and honorable mention candidates.
Thompson is important to the Golden State Warriors, but he hasn’t quite played at an All-Star level this season, especially in the stacked Western Conference.
Honorable mentions: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), C.J. McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies), DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)