Klay and Steph Are Out, So Who Is In?

The consecutive All-Star appearances-5 and 6 years respectively- for Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are over. Injuries have interrupted the Splash Brothers All Star Game shooting clinic. This year in Chicago the Splash Brothers will be forced to give up their spot in the annual exhibition.

Klay Thompson’s first All-Star appearance was in 2015, one year after Steph Curry’s first All-Star bid. Last year in Charlotte, Steph’s hometown, he scored 17 points in 29 minutes in a loss while Klay Thompson was on LeBron James team and scored 20 points in 22 minutes in a win. Steph and Klay are familiar assassins in the 3-point shooting contest.  Klay won it in Toronto in 2016. Steph won it the year before in the Garden.

The Sunday exhibition game will miss the Splash Brothers but someone’s bad luck is another person’s opportunity.

The Possible Replacements:

Point Guard

De’Aaron Fox. It’s difficult to make the All-Star game on a losing team but Fox’s game is so sweet and he is the best player on the Kings. In the early going, he hasn’t vaulted out the box and bypassed his last year’s numbers. Currently, he’s averaging 18 points and 6 assists. His PER has fallen from last year to 15. 7. (It was 18.1 in 2018-19). But Fox can turn it up in the next few months. He has to if the Kings are going to bust out of the defensive hell hole they are in and make the Luke Walton hiring pay off.

Jamal Murray. I suppose you can call Murray the best point guard never to make the All-Star game but Murray is only 22 years old. His numbers- particularly from three-are a little bit down to start the season but he’s averaging 18 points. His 4 assists aren’t a knock against Murray; he’s a combo guard, more of a shooting guard than a point. Nikola Jokic is the playmaker on the Nuggets which is another reason Murray has a very good shot at being in Chicago. He’s the second best player to Jokic, his team will be at the top of the conference, and he is consistent in the back court, an athletic talent who has the versatility to drain threes and finish at the rim.

Ja Morant. Voters aren’t going to want to give Morant much love because he’s a rookie on a developing team but look at what the kid is doing. 18 points per game on 50% shooting and 42% from three. He’s also responsible for 5 dimes. Morant makes perimeter shots but also midrange buckets. He’s a long shot for the All-Star team because he hasn’t paid his dues yet but he’s a front runner for ROY.

Shooting Guard

Luka Doncic. The Larry Bird-LeBron James hybrid nearly made the All-Star game last year. He is a lock this year. Luka is special.  His field goal percentage is better than last season. He’s rebounding more, dishing dimes right and left. His 26 points ppg is five points higher than last season. The reigning Rookie of the Year has a PER of 25.9 and an offensive rating of 112.

C.J. McCollum. C.J. could have made the All-Star many a year had Klay Thompson not been breathing NBA air. With Thompson out, McCollum is a more than adequate Klay replacement. Once again C.J. is doing things with the rock. 23 ppg. He’s shooting 42% from three, very Klay-like.  One of the knocks on C.J. is he doesn’t make players better. He isn’t a versatile player, not much for grabbing boards and moving the ball. But still. 23 ppg don’t lie.

Andrew Wiggins. We’ve been waiting for the frozen one to show up. And so far, he has. Wiggins is averaging 20 ppg.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for him to pass the ball. He averages one assist. But he pulls down more than 6 boards. He is playing with intensity and desire, like he really cares about winning and losing. Minnesota has been an early surprise thanks to Wiggins.

Lou Williams. I fully expect Sweet Lou to be snubbed when it’s time to cast All-Star ballots. What Williams does for a living is misunderstood. It’s hard to come off the bench and drop 20 points. But it’s more than that. Williams is a crafty scorer that very few can stop. His 19.6 PER pays tribute to the Lou Williams game even if the All-Star votes pass him by.

Devin Booker. I think this is the year for Booker to make the All-Star game. Booker is a scorer and came into the league dropping buckets. But an All-Star is about more than just scoring for yourself. You have to score to elevate the team which is what Booker is doing this year. Taking away point guard responsibilities has helped Booker’s overall game. He is a finisher and scorer. He’s making more shots this year, particularly from three. He’s playing the best defense of his career. Finally, Devin Booker has matured.

Donovan Mitchell. All-Star no brainer. The Jazz will be a top Western Conference team. Mitchell has relished having Mike Conley run things. It doesn’t matter if Conley has struggled. The ball in his hands has forced Mitchell to do what he does. Put the ball in the hole. He’s shooting 50% and 38% from three, averaging 24 ppg. His offensive rating is a Curry like 118. His PER is 26.0. Like I said, a no brainer.

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