The NBA‘s All-Star ballot is now open, allowing fans to vote their favorite players into the All-Star Game.
As it stands right now, the Wizards have three All-Star candidates: Deni Avdija, Will Barton and Rui Hachimura. Okay just kidding, it’s Kristaps Porzingis, Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. Please note that by “candidates,” I do not mean that they deserve to make the All-Star Game — I simply mean that in a vacuum, their numbers warrant at least a passing thought about an All-Star selection.
Of the three, Beal has the weakest case. He has played in just 20 of the Wizards’ 32 games, and he’s scoring just 23 points per game. The NBA All-Star selection process has proven to be very strict in the past when it comes to Beal — in 2019-20 he averaged 30.5 points per game but failed to make the All-Star team. Statistically, Beal is having a subpar year by his standards and is consistently missing games, so don’t expect him to be an All-Star.
Kuzma has a case for consideration, but his selection would require the Wizards’ record to rocket back above .500 by the All-Star break. Kuz is having a career year statistically, but those improved statistics are not contributing to winning, as the Wizards just narrowly managed to snap a 10-game losing streak and sit at 12-20 on the year. Don’t expect Kuz to be an All-Star, but crazier selections have been made (see: Kyle Korver, 2015).
With Porzingis, the Wizards actually have a fighting chance to be represented in the All-Star game. In Porzingis’ lone All-Star season, he averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 40% from three and 44% from the field overall. This season he is putting up very similar per-game averages of 22.4 points and 8.9 rebounds on 47.5% from the field, but his three-point percentage has dipped to 33%.
Porzingis making the All-Star Game would be a symbolic step forward for the Wizards, as no Wizard other than Bradley Beal or John Wall has made the All-Star Game in a decade and a half — the last to do so was Caron Butler in 2008.
Even though he is the most likely of the Wizards’ “Big Three” (I use that term very generously), to make the All-Star Game, Porzingis faces some steep opposition in a stacked Eastern Conference. For those unaware, each conference gets 12 All-Stars: four guards, six frontcourt players and two additional players without regard to position. Porzingis is eligible for all six frontcourt spots, plus let’s assume that both additional spots are up for grabs. If we call that eight open frontcourt spots, does Porzingis make the cut? Here are the East’s frontcourt players that I consider “locks” to make it over Porzingis:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Joel Embiid
- Kevin Durant
- Jayson Tatum
- Pascal Siakam
- Evan Mobley
After these six, there is one Eastern Conference frontcourt player I find more deserving of an All-Star selection than Porzingis: the rookie Paolo Banchero. Banchero, Orlando’s recent number one overall pick, has quietly been putting up grown-man stats in a grown man’s league despite having just turned 20 in November. Porzingis has slightly better stats, but Banchero’s stats are far more impressive because of his youth. It’s also entirely possible the Magic have a better record than the Wizards by the All-Star break.
That leaves one spot open, and I think Porzingis is in a tier of players who will be battling for this last spot. He’s right there with guys like Bam Adebayo, Jarrett Allen, Julius Randle, Jimmy Butler and OG Anunoby. This means that it is unlikely, but possible, that the Wizards send a representative to the All-Star Game, and if they do, it will almost certainly be Porzingis.
The link to vote can be found here.