Selecting the NBA All-Star Game reserves in each conference

We know the starters, but what about the men off the bench?Jalen Brunson tries to drive past Donovan Mitchell

That’s the question about the NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis on Feb. 18, and the actual reserves will be announced Thursday night.

Here are our picks:

Eastern Conference

Backcourt: Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers) and Jalen Brunson (Knicks). Either of these guys could be starting over Damian Lillard, voted in by the fans. That’s not a knock against Lillard — it’s just that Mitchell and Brunson have been that good, playing for two of the hottest teams in the entire NBA. 

That could leave out the 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, who is also having a banner year. But it’s hard to leave Mitchell or Brunson off the squad, for any reason, so that may mean Maxey is the odd man out.

Frontcourt: Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Bam Adebayo (Heat) and Julius Randle (Knicks). There aren’t any doubts that these three belong, though Randle has a separated shoulder and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be rushed back to play in a meaningless game.

With that in mind, the NBA could still select Randle, then go with an alternate. Our pick would be either the Magic’s Paolo Banchero or the Cavs’ Jarrett Allen, with Banchero getting the slightest nod. Allen has been better lately, but Banchero has gotten it done all season for an Orlando team on the rise.

So let’s go with Maxey and Banchero as the final two.

Western Conference

Backcourt: Steph Curry (Warriors) and Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves). Yeah, these are no-brainers. But man, would it be tough to leave the Kings’ De’Aaron Fox out of the game? The guy is just so good and a major reason why Sacramento remains a threat.

Still, you just can’t leave off Curry and Edwards. And Fox and outstanding candidates Jamal Murray (Nuggets) and Devin Booker (Suns) may pay the price for that. Yes, it also means James Harden (Clippers) gets snubbed.

Frontcourt: Kawhi Leonard (Clippers), Anthony Davis (Lakers) and Domantas Sabonis (Kings). This was the toughest spot to pick of them all. Leonard is an obvious selection, but do the Lakers — who have hovered around .500 all season — really deserve two players on the team? Well, when you consider how good Davis is, the answer is probably yes.

That leaves out the Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen, the Rockets’ Alperen Sengun, the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson, and even the Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama, who truly has been magnificent on a terrible team. You could make a case for any of those guys over Sabonis, or Davis, in the event you want to reward a player from a winning situation first.

I’d keep Davis, then add Fox and Gobert or Towns, take your pick.

So, there you have it. Let the arguments and angry emails and social media responses ensue. Again, the real reserves will be announced Thursday evening. You can find the starters at this link.

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