The Surefire Starters
Nobody should be under any impression that either Paolo Banchero or Franz Wagner can get themselves into the starting lineup for All-Star Weekend.
The Orlando Magic are getting more notice these days, but not that much notice. And not to the general fan. The team is still not on national TV -- the only traditional national TV game is the Tuesday before the All-Star Break and they get an NBATV game in San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 2. Orlando is a nice story, but fans have to look under the surface.
The starters for the All-Star Game, at least the players who get voted in, are already established names. There is no shame not being on this list. You establish your credentials in the playoffs in a lot of ways. So the Magic will get noticed once they compete in the postseason.
Banchero and Wagner are not starting unless they are replacing someone who is injured.
Even at this point, it is hard to see the voters deviating from these five players for the Eastern Conference starters:
The Philadelphia 76ers came through the chaos of their early season to still be one of the best teams in the league. We will get to the surefire All-Star debutante that is coming. But everything still revolves around last year's MVP.
Embiid leads the league in scoring and is still doing all the things he has done for years now. With no other big men really to challenge him in the East, Embiid is going to be starting. He has been the model of consistency and the Sixers are off to a strong enough start.
No doubt, Giannis Antetokounmpo is still adjusting to playing alongside another big-time scorer in Damian Lillard. The Bucks have stumbled a bit out of the gate and have had to find their way. Antetokounmpo is willing to cede the late-game stage to Lillard. And the team is finding its defense.
Antetokounmpo is still putting up monstrous numbers. And in the Eastern Conference, at least, there is probably no more marketable star. Antetokounmpo is likely to be the leading vote-getter in the East and he will be in the starting lineup.
The Boston Celtics have the Eastern Conference's best record and there are going to be a lot of Celtics vying for spot on this team. Boston is guaranteed to have at least one starter in Jayson Tatum. Even if Tatum's Q score is not high, he is on a marquee franchise and the best team in the East.
Tatum is having a strong season with his most efficient field goal percentage. He is still putting up big numbers and is definitely an All-Star moving forward.