As with every NBA All-Star game, a few deserving players missed the cut in 2020 due to some controversial roster decisions. This is a good problem to have because it shows how talented the league is right now. These type of discussions and debates make the NBA great. Just remember, even if you don’t like a player or a selection, respect greatness while it’s here because it might be gone tomorrow.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James will captain the 2020 NBA All-Star teams. The other Eastern Conference starters are Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, and Trae Young. Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard fill out the rest of the Western Conference starters.
The Eastern Conference reserves include Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Ben Simmons, Domantas Sabonis, and Jayson Tatum. The Western reserves include Rudy Gobert, Brandon Ingram, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook.
This article selects the biggest 2020 All-Star snubs and will mention several other players who missed the cut. With the groundwork laid, let’s jump into the top five All-Star snubs of 2020.
*All numbers accurate as of February 1, 2020
5. Zach LaVine, SG Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are a mess. From the front office to the coaching staff, that organization needs revamping, but Lavine isn’t a problem. The sixth-year shooting guard has played all 51 of the team’s games this season and is averaging 25.1 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. He’s 12th in the league in points per game.
The Bulls are 19-32 under LaVine’s leadership, which puts the team two games behind the eighth and seventh seeds in the Eastern Conference. If the Bulls do make the playoffs, Lavine deserves all of the credit. Lauri Markkanen (15.0) is the only other player on the team averaging at least 15 points per game.
If second options like Tatum and Middleton are All-Stars, then Lavine’s case deserves another look.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, C Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns missed a good chunk of the season. Towns appeared in only 30 of the Timberwolves’ first 47 games. However, Embiid only appeared in 33 of Philadelphia’s first 49 games, and he’s an All-Star starter. Injuries cannot serve as an excuse for Towns’ omission in the All-Star reserves.
Towns’ 26.9 points per game are a career-high. He’s also putting up 4.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game while making 41.2% of his three-point attempts. If not for his questionable defense, Towns would be a perennial All-NBA selection. No center possesses offensive versatility on par with Towns.
3. Bradley Beal SG, Washington Wizards
If the NBA wants to prioritize winning when selecting All-Stars, that’s fine. Why is young starting then? The Atlanta Hawks are 13-36, which is the second-worst record in the league. In comparison, Beal’s Wizards are 16-31. That’s only a minor upgrade, but the NBA chose to bring team records into the All-Star conversation, right?
It’s unfair to judge a good player as unworthy of an All-Star spot because of the team and organization around him. Coaches make a difference. Rotations make a difference. Front offices make a difference. In the case of the New York Knicks, the owner makes a difference.
Beal’s 28.7 points per game are the sixth-most in the NBA this season. Despite shooting 21 times a game, he is still making 45.3% of his field goal attempts. Washington’s second-best scorer this season is Dāvis Bertāns. How can that be held against Beal?
2. DeMar DeRozan, SF San Antonio Spurs
After making four All-Star appearances in his final five seasons with the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan missed the All-Star game in 2019. It looked like he might fade into the background in San Antonio, but DeRozan is looking like his old self this season.
DeRozan is making a career-high 53.5% of his field goal attempts while averaging 23 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. He has not missed a game this season.
DeRozan’s 5.3 win shares and 118 offensive rating compare well to Ingram’s 4.3 win shares and 114 offensive rating. DeRozan’s 5.3 win shares rank 17th in the NBA this season, tied with Walker’s 5.3 and above Leonard’s 5.1.
Despite switching positions and not shooting threes regularly, DeRozan is still an All-Star caliber player.
1. Devin Booker, SG Phoenix Suns
What does Booker need to do to make an All-Star game? The fifth-year shooting guard is playing the best basketball of his career. His 27.1 points per game rank eighth in the NBA and first among Western Conference players who missed the All-Star cut.
Booker is making a career-high 51.0% of his field goal attempts, including 36.4% of his threes. He is also averaging 6.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. His defensive box plus/minus (-1.9), offensive box plus/minus (4.1), and win shares (5.2) are all career-highs.
The knock against Booker is that he puts up great numbers on a bad team and is a slight negative on defense. The Phoenix Suns are 20-28 right now. However, the Hawks are 13-36, and Young is a starter! A second-year player on the second-worst team in the NBA, who is leading in the league in turnovers (212), will start in the All-Star game while Booker will watch from the stands.
Even within the West, Booker could reasonably claim a spot over Ingram, Mitchell, or Paul. Mitchell and Paul contribute more on defense, and Paul brings a lot more to the table that doesn’t show up in box scores, but Booker should’ve made the All-Star game this year.
Injuries contributed to a few familiar faces missing the cut. This season, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and John Wall have not played in any games. Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin saw their seasons cut short by injuries. Victor Oladipo only recently debuted for the Indiana Pacers.
Outside of the players who missed most if not all of the season, Paul George and Kyrie Irving got bit by the injury bug early. George’s lack of playing time and sacrifices made during his adjustment period with the Los Angeles Clippers also contributed to his All-Star game omission. He does not look like himself yet, and his numbers are down across the board.
Irving is averaging a career-high 28.3 points per game and is coming off of a 54-point game against the Bulls. However, that was only Irving’s 19th game of the season. Fans all know how talented Irving is, but did he play enough games to earn a selection? There’s an argument to be made that he should be in over Lowry, Middleton, or Tatum.
Boston’s Jaylen Brown deserves a mention since he’s averaging 20.1 points per game on the third-best team in the East, but he’s the team’s third offensive option. Some nights he’s the fourth option, behind Tatum, Walker, and Gordon Hayward. His career arc is still worth watching, but Brown is not in the position to call himself an All-Star yet.
New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday is in a similar situation to Brown. Holiday is scoring 20.0 points per game while also generating 6.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds per night. However, younger, flashier players receive more attention. Brown and Holiday are both great two-way players, but their teammates overshadow them.
Last season, D’Angelo Russell lifted the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs. This year, his Golden State Warriors are the worst team in basketball. While Russell still puts up 24.0 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game, his VORP (1.0) and win shares (1.4) both suffered significant drop-offs.
Malcolm Brogdon is an important player for the Pacers on both offense and defense. However, his field goal percentage took a significant hit this season. Despite averaging 17.0 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game, metrics suggest that Sabonis and even T.J. Warren are more crucial to Indiana’s success.
For those asking where Ja Morant is, consider this; neither Doncic nor Young made the All-Star games as rookies last season. Not even legends like Carmelo Anthony and James made the game as rookies. So, pump the breaks on the Morant snub train.