The Toronto Raptors will have two representatives in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto, as DeMar DeRozan has been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, the league announced on TNT on Thursday.
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported the news about an hour beforehand.
The seven reserves for each conference are voted on by the coaches, who have a little more flexibility with positions than fans did for starters. Kyle Lowry jumping Kyrie Irving in the final stage of fan voting helped secure DeRozan a spot, as the competition for East guard spots was tight. John Wall, Jimmy Butler, and Isaiah Thomas also made the team as reserve guards, with two of the four requiring a wild card spot to make the team.
The East’s final roster looks like this:
G: Dwyane Wade
G: Kyle Lowry
FC: LeBron James
FC: Paul George
FC: Carmelo Anthony
G: Jimmy Butler
G: John Wall
FC: Paul Millsap
FC: Chris Bosh
FC: Andre Drummond
WC: DeMar DeRozan
WC: Isaiah Thomas
DeRozan will join his teammate and partner in crime, Lowry, who was voted in as a starter by the fans. That’s just the second time the franchise is sending a pair of players to the All-Star Game. The only other occasion was in 2000-01, when Vince Carter and Antonio Davis took the stage. DeRozan also joins Lowry, Carter, and Chris Bosh as the only multi-time All-Stars in team history.
It’s a nice nod for the host team but not at all one that’s been influenced by the location of the game. At 30-15, the Raptors have been the second-best team in the East so far this season, and both Lowry and DeRozan are worthy of their All-Star berths.
We’ve covered Lowry’s candidacy plenty, and DeRozan’s been nearly as good on offense. The 26-year-old is averaging career highs with 23 points and 4.1 assists while also posting career-best marks in player efficiency rating, true-shooting percentage, and usage rate. He’s still average, at best, defensively, and his impact on the team hasn’t been as paramount as Lowry’s, but it’s really difficult to argue with his scoring volume and new-found level of efficiency. Comparing to his previous All-Star season, he’s been just as good or better, eliminating some of his mid-range shots for more forays to the rim, improving as a playmaker, and even hitting just north of 30 percent from outside.
The argument against DeRozan would be that the Raptors have been far better when he sits than when he plays, but some of that has to do with Lowry propping up bench units so well. It’s a concern, particularly in the event Lowry were to go down, but it’s not enough of one to look past his robust production when voting for the All-Star Game. I’m confident that DeRozan would have been a near-unanimous selection if coaches and media were polled league-wide.
The Raptors have two All-Stars for the second time ever, with the game in Toronto. It’s awesome.
The Western Conference side will look like this:
G: Steph Curry
G: Russell Westbrook
FC: Kobe Bryant
FC: Kevin Durant
FC: Kawhi Leonard
G: Chris Paul
G: James Harden
FC: Draymond Green
FC: Anthony Davis
FC: DeMarcus Cousins
WC: Klay Thompson
WC: LaMarcus Aldridge
So, who are the biggest snubs in each conference in your mind? On the East side, I think they mostly got it right, though I had Reggie Jackson in (at the expense of Dwyane Wade) on my ballot. In the West, I think one of Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki would have had a case, particularly over Aldridge, but there’s nothing egregious here.
The game takes place on Sunday, February 14, at the Air Canada Centre.