Storyline: All-Star Selections

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San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge said he wasn’t surprised to learn he was the last pick in the inaugural 2018 NBA All-Star Draft. “I’m not a flashy player,” the six-time All-Star said. “That’s OK.” Aldridge was the last player chosen by LeBron James’ team, and Boston Celtics power forward Al Horford was the last pick by Stephen Curry’s team, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “We’re all All-Stars, so, at the end of the day, we should be thankful to be here,” Aldridge told ESPN. “Picked first, picked last, it doesn’t matter. We’re all competitive, too. It won’t be the easiest thing to be picked last, but at the end of the day, you’re just happy to be here.”

Dragic made it and will have the chance to participate in the league’s annual, opulent celebration of its best talent. Dragic has been named to an All-NBA team — a much more exclusive distinction that recognizes 15 players instead of 24 (this season 28 made the All-Star team because of a rash of unfortunate injuries). But he wanted the midseason honor because people remember the spectacle, the game, not some list that’s announced after the regular season is over. “I was really happy because this was my wish for a long time. As a kid, you’re always dreaming about those moments. And I put a lot of work in,” Dragic told Yahoo Sports. “I mean, for me, All-NBA was probably a higher honor. It’s kind of big but maybe the All-Star gets more recognition. Maybe because of that, people are more into it. But it’s an awesome experience, a lifetime experience that I’m going to embrace and try to have fun.”

Why do you think your teammate Ben Simmons wasn’t chosen to be an All-Star? Joel Embiid: I think he should’ve been an All-Star because Goran Dragic got picked to play and John Wall. At the time, Miami had the fourth-best record in the East and they didn’t have any All-Stars, so I feel like that was the reason they didn’t pick him (Simmons), and then Drummond, he’s in the playoff race and his numbers are insane and I could see why they picked him because Detroit didn’t have an All-Star either. The only one I didn’t really understand was Kemba because we have the better record. Ben’s numbers are better than all those guys … defensively he’s one of the best defensively in the league. I don’t know. I wouldn’t say there’s anything against rookies in the league, but it’s hard. That’s a hard decision Adam Silver has to make. Starting next year, Ben is going to have many opportunities to be an All-Star, but he should’ve been an All-Star.

Only six players have been named to five All-Star teams before age 25 (Kevin Garnett would’ve made it seven, if not for the 1999 lockout). The other five — Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — are either in the Hall of Fame or will be first-ballot inductees once eligible. But what those other players have on their resumes — playoff success and championship rings — is something Davis is eager to add. Cousins’ presence wasn’t going to carry the Pelicans to be a contender, but he possibly would’ve helped Davis do better than the first-round sweep he encountered in 2015. Without him, the challenge of simply getting into the postseason — even with the Western Conference a little wobblier than usual after Golden State and Houston — is that much greater. “We’re trying to find our groove again. A lot of guys are playing out of position. I’m playing a lot more five now. We’re asking a lot from everybody and we just have to step up as a team and find a way to win,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I just tell them, ‘Keep playing. Keep fighting. Keep believing in each other. Right now is not the time to separate. We’ve got to stay together.’ We’ve got a lot of games left. Nobody is really taking off, fourth [seed] through 10th. We’re going to always stay in the fight, as long as we keep giving ourselves a chance. We’ve got to play hard and keep having fun.”

This season was supposed to be different with the game’s best headed to Los Angeles for another flamboyant and decadent display. The New Orleans Pelicans finally found Davis a running mate in DeMarcus Cousins, a peer who could relieve him from so many gargantuan performances and serve up a few of his own. For once, Davis would show up to the festivities with another Pelican by his side. “Not anymore,” Davis told Yahoo Sports with an exasperated chuckle, reflecting on what’s been lost this season.
3 months ago via ESPN

While Dragic’s confidence wavered, Nash, Grant Hill and assistant coaches kept him afloat as he doubted his decision to come to the U.S. “[Kokoskov] was my second father. When I came to the States, he speaks the same language as I do. He was there for me 24/7,” Dragic said. “I owe them a lot that I even succeed in the NBA because of him and Dan Majerle and those guys. “Igor was the main guy. He always talked to me. He always opened my eyes and my head. I always remember him saying, ‘Just put hard work in and be patient.’ He was always saying patience. At that time, I didn’t understand that well and now I really do, I really do. Even now I don’t see him as a coach. I see him as my friend.”

After saying multiple times over the past few months that becoming an all-star was something he wasn’t worried about, something that would “take care of itself,” Middleton shared Tuesday that getting passed over multiple times did bother him. “It’s definitely disappointing,” Middleton said. “I definitely felt I should have been an all-star this year. If I wasn’t voted in by the coaches out front then I thought I should have been a replacement but they saw it a different way. I’m not going to let that kill my season. I’m not playing for just an all-star (selection); I’m playing for the playoffs, a championship team. “I definitely feel disrespected because of the numbers that I had and we had a good record. It is what it is at this point.”

The case for Ben Simmons to be included in the NBA All-Star team has gone all the way to the Australian federal parliament. MP Tim Watts made an impassioned plea on Thursday for the Philadelphia 76ers player to become the first Australian to make the prestigious line-up. Simmons, from Melbourne, has been continually overlooked for the showpiece game on 18 February, despite delivering an NBA rookie season comparable in terms of numbers to the likes of basketball greats Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

After saying multiple times over the past few months that becoming an all-star was something he wasn’t worried about, something that would “take care of itself,” Middleton shared Tuesday that getting passed over multiple times did bother him. “It’s definitely disappointing,” Middleton said. “I definitely felt I should have been an all-star this year. If I wasn’t voted in by the coaches out front then I thought I should have been a replacement but they saw it a different way. I’m not going to let that kill my season. I’m not playing for just an all-star (selection); I’m playing for the playoffs, a championship team.”

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver does not select Goran Dragic to fill Kevin Love’s Eastern Conference All-Star roster spot – or any other that might come open in the next two weeks– then the Heat this season could something achieve that has never been done in the NBA. No team in NBA history has ever won a playoff series without having a player on its roster that had been in an All-Star Game at any time prior to that, according to a Miami Herald analysis tracing back to the game’s inception in 1951. The Heat has a chance to do that, unless Dragic is added to the roster or barring the addition of a former All-Star via trade or buyout.

This is the world Kristaps Porzingis is entering as a first-time All-Star in a couple weeks, when he also replaces Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks’ top pitchman. He hopes it happens organically. “That’s a good idea,” Porzingis told the Daily News about recruiting his fellow All-Stars over the weekend in L.A. “I’ll get to know them a little better, all the guys. All guys want to play with other All-Stars on their team. But it’s not something I focus on. If it happens, it happens.”

Bradley Beal: I’m never mad about All-Star. It’s guys who get snubbed every year who’ve proven they could be All-Stars. This league, there’s 450 guys, and you’re trying to pick 24 out of the group who are having a good year. It’s a tough assignment, because you’ve got the fan vote, and it’s tough on the coaches because there’s so many guys out here who really are All-Stars. Not everybody gets a spot. I didn’t take it the wrong way. I accepted it for what it was. Like I said before, there’s guys who don’t make it every year who probably deserve to be there. For me, it was a break for my body.

For the most part, the Heat brushed off the fact they won’t be represented in this year’s All-Star Game. But when rookie Bam Adebayo’s name was not on the list of players voted into the Rising Stars Challenge, the Heat were surprised. “That’s crazy. I really didn’t see that coming,” Udonis Haslem said in advance of Thursday’s game against the Kings. “There was no doubt in my mind Bam was definitely going to have a chance to represent the Heat in the rookie game. That’s very unfortunate.

James presumably selected Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant with the first overall pick in the draft, taking away the dynamic duo from his rival Stephen Curry. He was not hesitant to pick Irving, despite their falling out, according to his interview (via TNT): “I just tried to pick the best available players. To be able to team back up with Kyrie is always special. Along with Kevin Love, for us to have another weekend to bring back some of the memories that we had when we were all together. Kyrie was available on the draft board. He’s one of the best point guards we have in our league. It was an easy choice for me.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Paul George hints at OKC return

A day after Russell Westbrook called his All-Star snub “outrageous,” Paul George told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols it was “awesome” to see his Thunder teammate support him, while also noting Westbrook is making George’s future free-agency decision “easier” to make. “Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has],” George said on Wednesday. “A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate’s back.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul said he was “cool” with not being selected for the All-Star Game. His co-star and coach weren’t so accepting of the snub. “I was amazed that people that should be watching games don’t watch the games and see how important a guy is,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s for all the right things — gave up space and personal accolades to make the team better. He did that and is still having one of his better years, a career year. It’s perplexing.”
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May 25, 2018 | 10:09 pm EDT Update
Privately, some members of the front office have been mentioning the same thing regarding the idea of taking a point guard, essentially saying that it wouldn’t make sense to select a PG given the current roster. This would seem to be another sign that the organization is confident in 2017 first-round pick Frank Ntilikina. Again, it’s worth noting that this opinion may not be uniform throughout the Knicks’ front office.