NBA 5-on-5 – Our experts break down 2023 All-Star reserves

All 24 seats are taken at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on February 19 in Salt Lake City.

The 10 starters were announced last week and we now know who will fill the 14 reserve spots.

Joel Embiid being dropped from the entry list was one of last week’s biggest surprises, but it’s no surprise that he made it as a reserve. However, his Philadelphia 76ers teammate James Harden was dropped entirely from the roster despite a solid offensive season so far. Jimmy Butler, Trae Young, De’Aaron Fox, Darius Garland and Jalen Brunson join Harden as the backcourt stars left out this year, while Jrue Holiday made it on a mostly defensive resume.

A handful of young players were named for their first All-Star game, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Haliburton and Lauri Markkanen. Jaren Jackson Jr. will also make his first All-Star appearance in one of the more surprising selections of the night.

Our experts explain the biggest surprises and snubs from this year’s All-Star Reserves, and what they’re most looking forward to at this year’s event.

1. Who’s the biggest surprise?

Tim Bontemps: I didn’t expect Jaren Jackson Jr. to make it after missing a majority of games earlier in the season, but he was the league’s most dominant defensive player for one of the best teams in the West, so I can see why Die Coaches rewarded him.

Yamal Collier: If I had to choose a New York Knicks player, I would have gone with Brunson over Julius Randle. Looking at the positional breakdown, I can see the East needed another big player in the roster, but Brunson’s free-hand acquisition was the biggest offensive difference of New York’s season.

Nick Friedell: Vacation. I would have given Brunson the nod, but Holiday was just as solid and was rewarded for it. Without him, the Bucks aren’t at the top in the east.

Marc Spears: The biggest surprise was that Holiday made it. Holiday has respectable but not outstanding offensive numbers. But defensively he’s one of the most influential players in the league and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves there. Milwaukee also has the second-best record in the East, earning two All-Stars.

Ohm Youngmisuk: Vacation. Certainly he’s an all-star caliber player — especially defensively where he’s elite — and a big part of what the Bucks do. But there was serious competition at point guard in the East with the likes of Brunson, Harden, Young and Darius Garland being snubbed.

2. Who is the biggest snub?

Bontemps: Jimmy Butler missed time through injury but he is one of the best players in the league and should be in this game. I would have picked him over Randle, but there are several players in the East – including Harden, Brunson and Pascal Siakam – who all deserved it, and there just weren’t enough spots for all of them.

Necklace: Harden isn’t the player he once was at Houston, but he’s having a stellar season for a team that tops the East with Boston, Milwaukee and Brooklyn, teams that have each had two All-Stars. But you could build an entire all-star team if players get snubbed, and there are only 12 spots in each conference.

Friedell: If Butler hadn’t wasted so much injury time he would be on the team so Brunson is the biggest real nuisance to me. He’s played really well under Tom Thibodeau and stabilized the Knicks this season. I would depose Randle and make Brunson the Knicks rep.

spears: I was very surprised that the king’s guard, De’Aaron Fox, didn’t make it. Fox has been the engine that has positioned the Kings to make their first postseason appearance since 2006. Ultimately, West’s coaches didn’t believe Sacramento deserved two All-Stars and settled on Domantas Sabonis. I’m sure Fox is devastated, but making the playoffs will heal that pain.

Youngmisuk: Fox. He has led the high-octane Kings to the third-best record in the West, averaging 24.3 points and 6.1 assists. He shoots 50.6% from the field, has played for the Kings and has played excellent defense. The Kings aren’t where they are without Fox. Surely he will be on a short list of substitutes should the need arise.

3. How did being snubbed as a starter affect Embiid’s game?

Bontemps: It has not. Embiid was deservedly named the East’s Player of the Month on Thursday after a dominant performance in January, not for a few games, after finding out he was being snubbed as an All-Star starter.

Necklace: Embiid has a right to be angry. The positional restrictions on voting this year were silly, leaving voters with the impossible choice of removing one out of every four deserving players from the starting lineup. If that little thing causes him to become even more dominant, good luck to anyone trying to stop him.

Friedell: Embiid plays like the player or coach who says he doesn’t look for real or perceived snubs, but goes out of his way to find all kinds of snubs, wherever they may be. It looks like he’s been playing at a different level since the announcement – which is good for him – and even better for the Sixers.

spears: I don’t know if you really have extra motivation to play in a relaxed All-Star game. The better way to make your mark is by winning an NBA championship or reaching the finals. Two of the forwards selected before him won NBA titles, the other played in the final finals. Reaching the finals this year is the best way to change that.

Youngmisuk: It’s just another chip added to a shoulder that already has more chips than a chip ahoy cookie. Embiid is already motivated to prove MVP voters wrong. Look no further than his performance of 47 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists against Nikola Jokic on January 28th. And now he has that to drive him even more. Let’s hope he remembers all of that in the playoffs.

4. Who do you think will be picked last in the All-Star Draft before the game?

Bontemps: A great player. Whatever the outcome of this draft, I suspect no one will be left alone on center court for long.

Necklace: Anyone remember who was chosen last year? I will repeat the amount here. You still become an All-Star and can take extra motivation to show up in the game.

Friedel: Who cares. You’re still an all-star. That game, and more importantly the prestige that comes with that game, still means a lot to players across the league. You know who a certified All-Star is and what that means. This choice is important. It doesn’t matter who is picked last in a draft.

spears: I have no idea who will be picked last, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. I’d rather be the last player selected for the All-Star Game than not be selected at all. This will be the case for about 430 NBA players. I’m sure the All Star Snubs would love to be the last player taken.

Youngmisuk: It doesn’t matter who is picked last. The All-Stars are all worthy, and surely whoever is picked last will have an opportunity to highlight and show their worth.

5. What are you most hoping to see during the 2023 All-Star Game?

Bontemps: A competitive game with a tight ending. The All-Star Game 2020 in Chicago was great theater. give me another one

Necklace: Ja Morant repeatedly tries to dunk a basketball which he doesn’t have to do but pulls off.

Friedell: All I want is competitiveness. The league has tried a variety of ways to create more competition over the past few years – just do whatever you can to get players interested. I don’t like watching an all-star game when it seems like everyone is just doing the moves. Anything that comes away from it, including a few belongings here and there, is good for me.

spears: I’m always a sucker for the slam dunk competition. I hope it’s fantastic. A great dunk contest sets the tone for a fun weekend, while a bad one always feels like a downer. I also really like how every quarter of the All-Star Game is played for a good cause. This did a great job of making the game more competitive. I love seeing the excitement from representatives of the charities that win the quarter.

Youngmisuk: I just want to see it go to the end with the All-Stars caring and playing like the game means something. I know, by and large, it’s best that everyone stays healthy first and foremost. But it’s always fun when the best in the world go head-to-head towards the end of the game and players don’t look like they’re ready to hop on a private jet to a remote island. NBA 5-on-5 – Our experts break down 2023 All-Star reserves

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