Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
If this were just based on numbers, it’d be hard to keep Karl-Anthony Towns out. Averaging 26.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 blocks in 33.4 minutes per game is absurd.
But Towns has two big strikes against him. His team is 15-29 and almost as close to 15th place as it is to eighth. He’s also missed nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s games.
Players from bad teams are often chosen. Plenty of All-Stars have missed some time before the game. It’s tough to overcome both hurdles, though.
An underrated cog in the Milwaukee juggernaut, Eric Bledsoe is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds in just 26.1 minutes per game. If you expand those to per-75-possession numbers, he’s at 19.5, 6.7 and 6.0.
That and his typically strong perimeter defense make him a real threat to get in.
His true shooting percentage is down quite a bit this season, but Nikola Vucevic’s basic numbers aren’t far off the marks he put up during his first All-Star campaign in 2018-19.
If Orlando were above .500, it’d be tougher to hold Vucevic out.
Montrezl Harrell making the Los Angeles Clippers better when he’s on the floor may be more impressive than the 19.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28.8 minutes per game off the bench.
L.A.’s net rating is 2.8 points per 100 possessions better when Harrell is in the game. That’s not easy to do for a team that starts Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (when available).
This might be the toughest omission in the East. Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 assists with an above-average true shooting percentage.
But he’s missed 11 games and is posting a negative net rating swing for the second time in his last 11 seasons.
- Fred VanVleet: His basic numbers aren’t quite as gaudy as Lowry’s, but they’re not far off, either.
- Zach LaVine: Averaging a career-high 25.0 points, but he’s posting a negative net rating swing for a 17-29 team.
- Jaylen Brown: Averaging 20.0 points for a winning team, but his impact pales in comparison to Tatum’s.
- Ja Morant: A human highlight reel averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 assists for a playoff contender as a rookie.
- Bojan Bogdanovic: Averaging 21.1 points with a 60.7 true shooting percentage and rocking a net rating swing in the 99th percentile.
- Paul George: Posting good basic numbers, but he’s appeared in just over half of his team’s games.
All stats, unless otherwise indicated, courtesy of Basketball Reference, NBA.com, PBPStats.com or Cleaning the Glass and current heading into games on Thursday.