The Los Angeles Lakers currently enjoy the third-best record in the Western Conference and are tied for the most wins in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers. LeBron James is in the MVP conversation as he and his teammate Anthony Davis appear to be locks to start next to each other in the NBA All-Star Game.
It did not appear as if the league was going to hold its annual All-Star festivities as that was the original plan. However, the league and the Players’ Association are nearing an agreement to go forth with the All-Star Game and skills competitions in Atlanta.
With the All-Star Game being a much-improved product over the last two years, this is a welcome sign for any basketball fan.
Last year we saw LeBron James and Anthony Davis team up as if they were on the Lakers as LeBron had the first overall pick and drafted AD in his starting five alongside him. This year, that might not be the case. LeBron will probably still pick first, as he is the face of the NBA and will get the most votes, but he should not be able to pick AD first overall.
That is because AD does not deserve to be voted into the starting lineup for the All-Star Game. He absolutely should be in the game, but it is easy to cast a ballot with five players from the Western Conference without AD in it.
Los Angeles Lakers: Why AD should be left off of starting All-Star Game ballots
You can vote for the NBA All-Star Game here and they have a really smooth voting system in which you select the position on either team and a list of players appears to vote on. The important thing here is that LeBron James ie being voted on for the frontcourt, not the backcourt.
If LeBron was in the backcourt then AD would be in the Western Conference starting five. Instead, he is the first guy out.
Anthony Davis has not been 100% himself to start the season but he has still played really solid basketball. AD is averaging 22.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He is shooting 52.4% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc.
Those are solid numbers for 95% of the players in the NBA but are not fully up to AD’s standards. And quite frankly, if he was putting up typical AD numbers then he would deserve to be in the starting lineup.
Let’s break down what I think is the proper starting five for the Western Conference this year.
- Luka Doncic: 27.3 points, 9.4 assists, 9.0 rebounds
- Damian Lillard: 28.9 points, 7.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds
- LeBron James: 25 points, 7.7 assists, 7.5 rebounds
- Nikola Jokic: 26.8 points, 8.6 assists, 11.8 rebounds
- Kawhi Leonard: 25.9 points, 5.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds
So the big one here is Kawhi Leonard, who is replacing Anthony Davis in the starting five of my Western Conference starting ballot. Before we get into that, I have to acknowledge the other two forwards.
I just do not think you can make a legitimate case for AD over either LeBron or Jokic. Both are playing at an MVP level and are simply playing better than Anthony Davis this season. It is not deeper than that.
Kawhi and AD are closer but I do give the slight edge to Kawhi. While there is not one singular stat that jumps out, Kawhi has been great in all areas of the game and is the best player on, right now, the best team in the league (record-wise). That is important.
And to be honest, this would create a really fun scenario. Assuming LeBron is the top vote-getter, which he probably will be, AD could be easily stolen from him and we could watch the two teammates going at it in the All-Star Game.
LeBron would get the first overall pick among the starters while the top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference would get the first pick among the reserves. That is when AD can be taken to go up against his Lakers teammate.
Now, this is not a guarantee either. Joel Embiid should be the top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference if all things are fair and he and AD are not necessarily the biggest friends. Embiid recently said that playing FIFA is harder than guarding Anthony Davis.
As someone who has broken multiple controllers playing FIFA in my day, I can tell you that guarding AD is probably harder.