The NBA All Star weekend is a fun filled couple of days, with celebrities and players joining up. On Friday, there is the Celebrity All Star game and Rising Stars Challenge, in which rookies and sophomores take each other on. Kevin Hart notwithstanding, the celebrity game is usually is a Nickelodeon type, with 5 foot tall actors and musicians playing out their dreams on an NBA court. It goes about as well as it sounds.
On Saturday, things get interesting. My favorite portion of All Star Weekend is what Saturday night is all about: Skills Challenge, Three Point and Dunk Contest. Me and my friends used to get together during the All Star Weekend every year, have a few drinks, talk smack, place a few bets and go nuts over Vince Carter. Or Jason Richardson. Good times, man, good times.
And finally, on Sunday, the festivities close with the All Star Game itself. The over/under is usually set at about 300 points. It’s a fine way to cap off a great weekend by watching all your favorite players team up and basically play street ball. Which is great and all… unless you’re a Milwaukee Bucks fan. Then, well, you haven’t exactly been used to seeing many players participate in All Star Weekend. In fact, the last time Milwaukee sent more than one player to the All Star Game was the 2000-01 season, in which Glenn Robinson and Ray Allen made it as reserves.
All of that is about to change, for the 2019 NBA All Star Weekend.
With Thursday’s reveal of All Star starters, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks lone player… for now. Milwaukee currently boasts the NBA’s best record (by percentage points, .739, respectively), so the thinking around the league is that at least ONE MORE player should make it. But, why stop there? What about two? Or three? Hell, let’s go four! Imagine, an entire lineup worth of East NBA All Stars. Think it’s out of reach or damn near impossible?
It’s been done before. Well, almost. The following is a list of the years and players selected to an NBA All Star Game, with four players representing one team:
2017 & 2018 Golden State Warriors: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green
2015 Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver
2011 Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo
2006 Detroit Pistons: Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace
1998 Los Angeles Lakers: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel
1983 Philadelphia 76ers: Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney
1975 Boston Celtics: John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, Paul Silas
1962 Boston Celtics: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn
There you have it. So, it’s been done before, with four players making it from a team, but I’m going to show you quickly where today’s Bucks matchup against their presumed competition. Do I think this will happen, five Bucks players making the All Star Game? Absolutely not. But, it’s hard to argue that one or two players don’t at least deserve it or very strong consideration. And when you look a little deeper, it’s not so far off.
Giannis is the lock, this we know, leading the Eastern Conference in total votes across the board (fans, media, players). Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez are the other four who merit consideration as well.
Khris Middleton was seen as a “snub” last year. He was talked about by the TNT gang as though he was going to make it, when the reserves were going to be announced. And then he wasn’t. Surely, the top overall team in the NBA should send its second best player to the festivities being held in Charlotte, NC this year. With a slash line of 17.3 PPG/5.8 TRB/4.1 AST (37.5% from deep), it’s hard to keep him off, regardless of who he is up against.
Eric Bledsoe has also been on a tear as of late, roasting the league for averages of 15.8 PPG/4.4 TRB/5.5 AST (49.6% FG) on the year. His adversaries at the guard position in the Eastern Conference are: Kyle Lowry (14.2 PPG/4.5 TRB/9.4 AST), Ben Simmons (16.6 PPG/9.5 TRB/8.3 AST), Bradley Beal (24.7 PPG/5.0 TRB/5.0 AST) and Victor Oladipo (now out for the year due to injury). Simmons and Beal are locks, with it coming down to Bledsoe or Lowry. Bledsoe is on the better team (by percentage points) and has played in 7 more games than Lowry.
Brook Lopez is the sweet shooting big man, coming in with a slash line of 12.1 PPG/4.0 TRB/1.0 AST for the year. Surely, it doesn’t look like All Star Game participant numbers, but he has arguably been the most underrated (or underappreciated) free agent signee this season. With a little luck (ok, a lot), BROLO could be an injury replacement if a few big men go down. A stretch (pun intended), I know, but would it be so shocking if Blake Griffin and/or Joel Embiid were injured and forced to sit out?
Malcolm Brogdon is known as The President, a former second round pick who became ROY in the 2016-17 season, he’s putting together his best yet. Bringing averages of 15.6 PPG/4.5 TRB/3.4 AST, he matches up very well with a couple of other Bucks (Middleton and Bledsoe). The trio may end up hurting one another with very similar lines, but they have been as reliable as it gets almost the entirety of the season. Brogdon is the one player Milwaukee can always count on to make the correct pass, hit the open three or sink the pressure packed free throws (96% to be exact). No disrespect to Kyle Korver in 2015, but if he can make it, Malcolm Brogdon can make it.
Last but not least, of course, the Milwaukee Bucks have their head coach (Mike Budenholzer) leading them the entire way. Certainly, if their record holds up until then, he will be coaching the East squad. Looking even a little bit more into this, and you’ll note that “Bud” was the coach during that 2015 Atlanta Hawks team that won 60 games. That same 2015 Hawks team who sent, not one, not two, not three, but four players to the All Star Game. Let’s go for five, Milwaukee.