Eastern Conference All-Star Reserves Power Rankings
The Surefire Guards
Jalen Brunson probably has the biggest complaint of any player to be a starter, at least in the East. Brunson has been dynamic and vital to the New York Knicks' success as they separate themselves from the Play-In hopefuls to ensure they have a solid spot in the playoff picture.
Many people doubted Brunson could match his 2022 Playoff run with the Dallas Mavericks. When he got a big contract to sign with the Knicks, everyone wondered if he could be the lead guard.
He has shown that he can be that and a whole lot more. And this season, he has been a whole lot better. Everyone is puzzled why Knicks fans could not propel him into a starting spot. He missed a starting bid by finishing fifth in fan voting.
It is kind of easy to take Donovan Mitchell for granted. He has been an excellent scorer for so long, and the conversation with him is always less about what he is doing on the court and more about where he might head next off of it.
In the meantime, Mitchell remains one of the most consistent scorers in the league. And with Darius Garland out, he has helped the Cleveland Cavaliers establish themselves as the clear-cut favorite to grab the 4-seed -- or at least ensure they stay in the 4/5 matchup for a potential rematch with the New York Knicks.
To that point, then. Since Garland's injury, Mitchell is averaging 27.7 points per game and 7.8 assists per game. He has stepped his game up as the Cavaliers have surged despite those major injuries.
The Philadelphia 76ers could have easily gotten upended by the trade and drama surrounding James Harden. Joel Embiid has picked up the slack to become the front-runner for MVP -- the only thing that might stop him is the league's new game requirement. But Embiid needed a running mate.
He found one in Tyrese Maxey. And Maxey has been just as dangerous as any player Embiid has played with.
Just look at the Philadelphia 76ers' win over the Orlando Magic last week. Sure, Embiid had 35 points. But it was Maxey's 32 points and his ability to push the pace and score when Embiid was on the bench that left the Magic with no chance to win in the second half.
Maxey has been doing that to everyone. He should get his first All-Star invite this year.