NBA All-Star Game 2022: An early look at locks, likely reserves and potential snubs

On Dec. 25, voting for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game began.

Like the last few seasons, the starters for this year’s All-Star Game are voted on by the fans, media and NBA players. (Fans account for 50 percent of the vote, whereas current players and a media panel account for 25 percent each.) The reserves will then be voted on by the NBA’s head coaches.

Both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference starters will be made up of two guards and three frontcourt players. The reserves in each conference will feature two guards, three frontcourt players and two players at any position.

That means there are a total of 24 spots up for grabs.

There’s still a lot that can change between now and when voting ends at midnight on Jan. 22, but it’s becoming clear which players are going to be All-Star locks this season and which players they’ll be some debate about.

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NBA All-Star Game 2022: An early look at locks, likely reserves and potential snubs

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The no-brainers

Let’s just go ahead and lock in these seven players (in no particular order):

Antetokounmpo, Durant, Curry and Jokic are the leading MVP candidates so far this season. The Lakers have been a disappointment, but LeBron continues to defy Father Time. (His numbers in December? 30.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks. Unreal.) Embiid has missed some time, but he’s been nothing short of dominant in the games he has appeared in.

As for DeRozan, he’s putting together the best season of his career and has been a driving force in Chicago’s early-season success. Whether it’s as a starter or reserve, it’s hard to imagine him not earning his first All-Star bid since 2017-18.

The safe assumptions

They might not be no-brainers, but here are nine more players who are almost certainly going to be All-Stars this season (again, in no particular order):

Mitchell and Gobert form one of the best one-two punches in the league. Ditto for Paul and Booker. Morant’s play has one of his teammates wondering if he’s the best point guard in the league. (The answer is still Curry, but safe to say Morant has worked his way up the point guard rankings since the start of the season.) Similar to LeBron’s case, the Hawks have been quite disappointing but Young has been pretty dang incredible. (Atlanta is almost 20 points per 100 possessions better offensively when he’s on the court. That’s not a typo.) LaVine’s numbers are almost identical to last season’s, only now he’s doing it on a Bulls team that has the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Harden’s having a down season by his standards, but he’s still flirting with a 20-point triple-double on a nightly basis and has played a key role in the Nets having one of the best records in the Eastern Conference.

Last but not least, Green. His numbers might not scream All-Star, but he’s the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year and his passing unlocks a lot of what the Warriors do offensively. He’s a worthy All-Star this season, to the point where I penciled him in as one of the five Western Conference starters when I did this exercise on Christmas Day.

In consideration (and potential snubs)

Here’s where it gets interesting.

For those keeping count, that leaves us with three frontcourt positions and two wildcard spots in the Eastern Conference.

Here are some notable players in the running for those:

In the Western Conference, that leaves us with two frontcourt positions and one wildcard spot.

Here are some notable players in the running for those:

Yeah… some tough decisions are going to have to be made when the NBA’s head coaches select the reserves.

Where and when is the 2022 NBA All-Star Game?

Cleveland is hosting the NBA 2022 All-Star Game, which will be played on Sunday, Feb. 20. 

Cleveland last hosted the All-Star Game in 1997 when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary. The league is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season.

In the first week of the season, the NBA released a list featuring the 75 greatest players of all time to celebrate the league’s 75th anniversary.

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