Thursday, the NBA's All-Star starters will be announced with voting having closed at midnight Monday night. The starters were more or less set in the East, as nobody expects anything to change from the last returns. Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving will start in the backcourt with LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in the frontcourt. The fans probably got these completely right.
The reserves is where the intrigue is and that includes the potential for Arron Afflalo to make his first All-Star team. The coaches will have their vote with the results revealed Jan. 30.
Afflalo is very much in the running in this round to make the All-Star team. One could say he is among the favorites, despite the Magic's less than stellar 11-31 record.
Several media outlets are beginning to take their shot at naming the NBA's full All-Star rosters and most are including Afflalo in that bunch, if not as a surefire backcourt reserve then as a wildcard getting one of the final two spots on the team.
Zach Lowe of Grantland is the latest to comfortably consider Afflalo as an Eastern Conference All Star:
Afflalo’s defense has been overrated most of his career, but he’s been super efficient carrying an Orlando offense bereft of long-range shooting and legit scoring options. He’s worked hard to make himself an effective post player, and it has paid off hugely this season. He’s shooting 51 percent on post-up plays, per Synergy Sports, and among 79 players with at least 50 post-ups to their name, Afflalo ranks ninth in points per possession. He ranks even higher if you broaden the data search to include shots Orlando attempts after Afflalo kicks the ball out of the post, per Synergy. No. 1 on that list, by the way? LeBron James. Yup. LeBron didn’t just remake himself into an effective post player; he might be the very best post player in the league. This is bananas.
Afflalo's numbers are simply hard to ignore. He is averaging 20.6 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting with a 24.1 percent usage rate. His PER sits at a very solid 18.1 and he has posted a 53.3 percent effective field goal percentage.
A few weeks ago, a Kirk Goldsberry shooting analysis and ShotScore metric determined Afflalo is one of the five best high-usage shooters in the NBA. Take a look at his shooting chart from earlier this month:
Afflalo certainly deserves mention in the All-Star race.
Lowe is not the only member of the national media putting their weight behind Afflalo's candidacy. D.J. Foster and Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk selected Afflalo as a "Wild Card" pick. The fact of Afflalo's All-Star candidacy is very very real. The only thing that seems to be holding him back is his team's poor record.
There are several guards that should be in the running for the two backcourt spots and potentially two wild card spots that the NBA's Eastern Conference coaches will be voting on in the next week.
John Wall, DeMar DeRozan, Lance Stephenson, Joe Johnson, Kyle Lowry, Michael Carter-Williams, Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings will be among the players Afflalo will have to beat out. Frontcourt players like Chris Bosh, Andre Drummond, Joakim Noah and Al Jefferson.
There are plenty of competitors for a spot in this year's team. Wall, Teague and Stephenson figure to be favorites along with Afflalo. It is tough to see all four making the roster (unless they consider Afflalo a frontcourt player).
His fate is in the coach's hands.