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More likely to become a first-time All-Star this season: Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell?
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Steve Aschburner: Ben Simmons. Look, Donovan Mitchell is a young guy I want on my team. But this is a numbers thing and, after that, a “specialness” thing. The West has more All-Star candidates -- take a look at the East-West breakdown of All-NBA selections from this spring -- so playing in the East favors Simmons. So does his mix of size and skills, on top of how much the basketball will be in his hands. If he’s averaging a near-triple double through January, whether his jump shot has markedly improved or not, the Sixers supersized point guard will force the fans’ or coaches’ hands when they vote.
Tas Melas: Ben Simmons. The Eastern Conference is the best-ern conference if you wanna be an All-Star. This is really more about ‘right place, right time’ than it is about ability. I have no doubt in my mind that Donovan Mitchell has improved this offseason -- I can’t wait to see how that floater/mid-range game has developed. But for the standard five All-Star guard spots in the West, he’s dealing with Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, et al, for a spot. Then again, if the Jazz are a top-three seed when the ballots hit the hands of coaches -- and those Jazz players seem to be very much in-sync -- Mitchell could most definitely be chosen. Just easier in the East.
Shaun Powell: Donovan Mitchell will likely be leading his team in scoring and have the Jazz pushing for second place in the West when the votes are being collected. Therefore, he gets a slight edge here, though it will be a mild surprise if both players aren't in the game.
John Schuhmann: Ben Simmons has to have the edge just because he's in the Eastern Conference, which lost two 2018 All-Stars (DeMar DeRozan and LeBron James) in the offseason and another (Kristaps Porzingis) to injury. Kawhi Leonard will take one of those spots and Mitchell could be the leading scorer on the third best team in the West, but he's in a crowded West backcourt field with Stephen Curry, DeRozan, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson and Russell Westbrook.
Sekou Smith: Simmons gets the slight edge here, due in large part to a clearing of the All-Star ranks in the Eastern Conference. The logjam for All-Star spots in the Western Conference will be much thicker, preventing Mitchell from ascending without a monster individual season and a banner year from the Jazz as a team. Mitchell's going to be the unquestioned No. 1 option for the Jazz and won't have another All-Star to share the spotlight with the way Simmons does with Joel Embiid. But there is a preposterous amount of star talent crowding the All-Star picture out west. There will be some difficult choices to be made for those reserve spots. Simmons won't have quite as much competition to make his first All-Star team.