8 candidates to be Eastern Conference All-Stars in the front row

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant appear to be some of the locks for the front row spots in the 2023 All-Star Game.

The Eastern Conference sent five frontline players to the NBA All-Star Game in 2022, and it’s almost automatic that four will return in 2023 for the Feb. 19 contest in Salt Lake City.

Kevin Durant (12), Giannis Antetokounmpo (six), Joel Embiid (five) and Jayson Tatum (three) boast a total of 26 All-Star nominations, and all should be locked in for another appearance under the bright lights among top players. of the league. . After that, however, the pool in the frontcourt becomes murky for potential Eastern Conference All-Stars, especially considering a few viable candidates are playing on teams currently below .500.

As previously explained, the starting groups for both conferences consist of two guards and three frontcourt players. The reserves consist of two guards, three frontcourt players and two wildcard selections. Due to Durant’s injury, only four frontcourt players made it to the 2022 NBA All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference, which used its two wildcard spots on guards Darius Garland and LaMelo Ball (who served replacement for injury).

In alphabetical order, here’s a look at eight Eastern Conference front row players who are in the mix for spots in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Season statistics: 31.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 5.2 apg

Antetokounmpo helped Milwaukee start its current five-game road trip to New Orleans on a high Monday by scoring 42 points on 12-for-17 shooting to hand the Pelicans their fourth straight loss. The performance was the 28-year-old’s fourth 40-pointer this season (Milwaukee is 3-1 in those games), as Kia’s two-time MVP scored 18 points in the second quarter alone on 8 shooting. against 10. . Antetokounmpo is currently on track to become the eighth player in NBA history to average 30 or more points, 10+ rebounds and more than five assists in a season. In the previous seven instances, only three of those players have shot more than 50% from the field – and Antetokounmpo is currently shooting 53.3%.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 42 points, 10 rebounds and 70% shooting in a big win over New Orleans.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

Season statistics: 21.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.9 apg

Missed seven games in November with right knee pain, but Miami is 6-3 since Butler returned to the lineup Dec. 2. Bam Adebayo could also fit into this space, given his production (20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 52.8 FG percentage). But Butler is more likely to make his sixth All-Star appearance for a Miami team on a four-game winning streak that has flown largely under the radar. In 20 games so far this season, Butler has scored 20 or more points 13 times heading into Tuesday’s game against Chicago (7:30 a.m. ET, league pass).

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Season statistics: 30.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.3 apg

The Nets overcame some adversity on Sunday en route to their sixth straight win, trailing as many as 19 points in that game before defeating the Pistons, 124-121. Durant contributed a game-high 43 points (his second 40-plus-point outing of the season), scoring 20 of his 26 third-quarter points in the 3:18 Final to become the first player in the last 25 seasons to produce that. many points in the last four minutes of any quarter. Durant also moved up to 16th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (26,398 points) and is on course for All-Star Game No. 13.

Kevin Durant catches fire in the 3rd, dropping 26 points to lead Brooklyn’s comeback 19 in Detroit.

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Season statistics: 33.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 4.6 apg

Embiid had the longest active streak of 30-point games, but it ended at six on Monday when he scored 28 points (and had 11 rebounds) in a 104-101 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors . Embiid notched its 13th double-double as Philadelphia won its fifth straight game — a must-have given five Eastern Conference teams boast four-game or more straight wins. Another lock for the 2023 All-Star Game – which would mark his sixth straight – Embiid is averaging career highs in scoring, field goal percentage (52.9%), assists (4, 6) and flights (1.2).

Kristaps PorzingisWashington Wizards

Season statistics: 22.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.7 apg

Washington’s record could prevent Porzingis from making his second All-Star appearance, but the 27-year-old is in only his second season with the Wizards. Most don’t associate Porzingis with defense, but Bustle stats show the big man ranks fifth in the league in shots contested per game (11.9) and has contested 345 total shots so far this season good for fourth place in the NBA. Now for the tough part: Washington is currently fighting a 10-game losing streak and is 3-13 on the road. So while Porzingis produces like an All-Star, the team record might leave the veteran on the outside when it comes to Salt Lake City.

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Season statistics: 22.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.6 apg

The NBA is in a better place when the Knicks are in the mix, and they’re currently enjoying a league-best seven-game winning streak, with Randle leading the team in scoring and rebounding. The former All-Star has had 25 or more points in five of his last six outings and his 13 double-doubles rank 14th in the NBA. Randle hit two 3-pointers in Sunday’s win at Indiana to pass Nate Robinson for ninth in franchise history (415) in addition to passing Walt Bellamy for 28th on the franchise’s all-time scoring list. the team (5,083 points).

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Season statistics: 25 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 6.8 apg

He scored a season-high 38 points in Monday’s loss to the Sixers, which recorded his fourth performance of 30 or more points. But Toronto lost its league-high sixth game, which was decided by three runs or less. Additionally, the Raptors are mired in a six-game losing streak, which is only the third five-game or more skid in coach Nick Nurse’s five seasons with the team. Toronto’s record could prevent Siakam from making what would only be his second All-Star appearance. But he already has the most career games (five) in Raptors history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Season statistics: 30.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.1 apg

Tatum is averaging more than 30 points for one of the league’s top teams and is considered a favorite for the 2023 Kia MVP award. Essentially, Tatum is a lock on his fourth straight All-Star appearance. The 24-year-old is currently at career highs in points and minutes (37) in addition to shooting a career-best 55.7% on 2-point field goals. The sixth-year veteran missed Sunday’s loss to the Orlando Magic for what the team called “personal reasons.” But the forward already has four 40-point games this season and 15 for his career, which is tied for third most in franchise history behind Larry Bird (47) and Paul Pierce (21).

Jayson Tatum has had a solid grip on the top perch of the Kia MVP ladder all season.

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Michael C. Wright is Senior Writer for NBA.com. You can email him herefind his archives here and follow him on Twitter.

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