Blogtable: Who's on your Eastern Conference All-Star ballot?

Our scribes chime in on which 5 players they are choosing and why

From Staff

Jan 22, 2020 10:23 AM ET

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons are among the East's best players in 2019-20.

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Who do you have on your Eastern Conference All-Star ballot and why? 

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Steve Aschburner

Backcourt: Trae Young and Kemba Walker.
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler.

Why I picked them: I changed my mind a few times as I was working up my ballot for the media panel that contributes to the actual voting. And I’ve second-guessed myself a couple times since. Giannis is the East’s no-brainer, and Embiid is close to that despite some injury absences. Trae Young has played himself into a spot despite Atlanta’s record -- I think “team success” is a misguided standard for All-Star status -- and Kemba Walker has been almost as significant for what he hasn’t done (be Kyrie Irving, basically) as for what he has.

That leaves Butler, who probably should be snubbed this year after the stunt he pulled in 2018 (declining to play after it was too late to replace him with Lou Williams or another eager candidate). But nobody who’s eligible is outplaying him in my view. Besides, with the game in Chicago (one of three markets Butler has burned through with unhappy endings), he should hear enough boos on general principle to make the day less than ideal for him.

Shaun Powell

Backcourt: Trae Young and Kemba Walker.
Frontcourt: Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler.

Why I picked them: Let's address the Atlanta elephant in the room first. I do not care that Young can't lift the Hawks from the basement. This isn't a team award; this is an individual award. Feel free to weigh wins and losses when it comes to choosing the All-NBA Team if you wish. The guy is among the top five in scoring and assists and playing efficiently. Besides, Trae in a game with no defense will be fun to watch. Also, choosing Kemba was done only with slight hesitation in the direction of Ben Simmons. Otherwise, the East front court was easy pickings.

John Schuhmann

Backcourt: Ben Simmons and Kemba Walker
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam.

Why I picked them: Antetokounmpo's name was the only one that I put in pen on the initial pass-through. But it wasn't too difficult to settle on Simmons and Walker for the two guard spots in what isn't the strongest field of candidates. Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown and Kyle Lowry deserve some consideration, but Walker leads the league's sixth-ranked offense in scoring and assists, and Simmons has been a two-way force. We too often focus on his one glaring weakness without appreciating how good he is at everything else.

I had five candidates for the last two frontcourt spots: Jimmy Butler, Embiid, Khris Middleton, Domantas Sabonis and Siakam. Embiid has missed 14 games, but is the best player on the floor almost every time he steps on it. Siakam would have been an easier pick earlier in the season and he's seen a dip in efficiency with his increase in usage. But he's carried a heavier load for the third best team in the East than Butler has for the second best team.

Sekou Smith

Backcourt: Kemba Walker and Ben Simmons.
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam and Jimmy Butler.

Why I picked them: It's hard for me to separate winning from any honor "team" (All-Star, All-NBA, etc.), so Walker and Simmons get the nod in the backcourt. Trae Young has earned a spot on the team, but not a starting nod. Giannis is a no-brainer pick and Siakam and Butler have been the catalysts for teams that most of us didn't believe would be thriving the way they have this season. 

Michael C. Wright

Backcourt: Kemba Walker and Trae Young.
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam and Jimmy Butler.

Why I picked them: The criticism will rain down for the Young choice, given Atlanta’s losing record and the guard’s defense. But he’s been so brilliant as a shooter and a playmaker I can overlook those shortcomings. Walker gets the nod as the other guard. Antetokounmpo is the best player on the team with the league’s best record. Easy pick. The reigning Kia Most Improved Player, Siakam continues to get better, and Butler is the catalyst for a fun resurgence in Miami.

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