On Thursday, the NBA announced the reserves for the 2023 All-Star Game, as voted on by the league’s coaches. That comes on the heels of starters already been chosen and announced, meaning 24 exceptionally talented individuals have tickets punched for Salt Lake City in mid-February.
As always, there are disagreements on the margins when it comes to which players should, or should not, have been included, and the 2023 slate is no different. DIME’s Jackson Frank put together his choices for the reserves, which did not match the coach’s in perfect fashion, and if you glance at the internet, the word “snub” might be trending by the time you read this. Alas, it is impossible to make every constituency happy, but in an effort to highlight some of the players who narrowly missed the cut, here is a look at the most prominent snubs.
- Kawhi Leonard (28 games played), Anthony Davis (28 games played), and Devin Booker (29 games played)
- Jalen Brunson
- Darius Garland
- Aaron Gordon
If he qualified (34 games), Harden would be leading the NBA in assists with 11 per game. He’s also shooting more than 39 percent from three-point range on the way to a 61.9 percent true shooting mark. Harden will always be a polarizing player given his on-court style, and that was the case even before his playoff flame-outs gained more attention and his exits from Houston and Brooklyn drew widespread ire. He’s still very, very good, though, and his absence could be almost certainly tied to missing 16 of 50 games.
Siakam has never been the most efficient star, and that is the case this year with 56 percent true shooting in 43 games. Still, he is leading the NBA in minutes per game (37.7) and putting up huge counting stats (24.9 points, 8 rebounds, career-high 6.2 assists per game) for a team that badly needs him to carry the load. Siakam was almost certainly dinged for a lack of team success, but it could be argued he’s been better this season than he was a year ago, and Siakam was a second-team All-NBA selection in 2021-22.
I guess the coaches only had room for one member the Heat. Butler is certainly a top-12 player in the Eastern Conference in an overall sense, and he brings two-way value to the proceedings. Is he limited by his jumper at times? Sure. Has he played only 37 games? Sure, and that’s probably part of the reason. But it does feel weird to have Jimmy Butler playing a notable majority of his games, playing quite well, leading a pretty good team, and not making the trip to Salt Lake City.
This is the second snub for Trae Young in three years and, by the numbers, it is wild to leave him off. Young is No. 3 among qualified players in assists (9.9 per game) and No. 13 in scoring (27 per game). Those are league-wide numbers, not just the East, and he’s the only player in the NBA averaging at least 27 points and 8.5 assists per game. Also, the Hawks are much better when Young plays than when he sits, particularly on offense, and he isn’t really at fault for Atlanta’s .500 performance this season. Still, Young will always been controversial for his lack of defense and, as soon as the Hawks didn’t live up to expectations, his absence here was foreseeable.
No player in the NBA has played more minutes (1,977) than Edwards and he has career-highs in true shooting percentage, assist rate, defensive rebound rate, steals, points per game, and myriad additional categories. There is probably a theme on this list in that team success always plays a huge part, and the jokes were flying about Minnesota for the entire first half of the season. Ironically, the Wolves are in the top six of the West on the night of the announcement, and Edwards had a pretty interesting claim on an All-Star spot.
It would’ve been fun to get two Kings players on the list. Domantas Sabonis did make the cut, which was the right decision when choosing one member of Sacramento’s roster, but Fox has a case himself. He has been exceptionally good in clutch situations this season, helping to lead Sacramento to its gaudy record. He also has a career in true shooting percentage (59.1 percent) and a career-best mark in turnover rate to go along with 24.3 points and 6.1 assists per contest. It’s not baffling that he was left off or anything, but there was a real case for him to make it.