The Eastern Conference sent five frontcourt 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) own a combined 26 All-Star nods, and all should be locks for yet another appearance under the bright lights among the league’s best players. After that, though, the pool in the frontcourt becomes murky for potential Eastern Conference All-Stars, especially when considering a couple of viable candidates play on teams currently sitting below .500.
As explained before, the starting groups for both conferences consist of two guards and three frontcourt players. The reserves are comprised of two guards, three frontcourt players and two wildcard selections. Because of a Durant injury, just four frontcourt players participated in 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 as an injury replacement).
Listed alphabetically, here’s a look at eight frontcourt players from the Eastern Conference that figure into the mix for spots in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game:
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Season stats: 31.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 5.2 apg
Antetokounmpo helped Milwaukee start its current five-game road trip at New Orleans on a strong note Monday by pouring in 42 points on 12-for-17 shooting to hand the Pelicans their fourth consecutive loss. The performance registered as the 28-year-old’s fourth 40-point showing this season (Milwaukee is 3-1 in those games), as the two-time Kia MVP scored 18 points in the second quarter alone on 8-for-10 shooting. Antetokounmpo is currently on track to become just the eighth player in NBA history to average 30 points or more, 10-plus rebounds and five-plus assists in a season. In the previous seven instances, just three of those players shot better than 50% from the field — and Antetokounmpo is currently shooting 53.3%.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Season stats: 21.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.9 apg
Missed seven games in November due to a sore right knee, but Miami is 6-3 since Butler’s return to the lineup on Dec. 2. Bam Adebayo could fit in this space, too, given his production (20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 52.8 FG percentage). But it’s more likely that Butler would make his sixth All-Star appearance for a Miami squad on a four-game winning streak that has largely flown under the radar. In 20 games so far this season, Butler has scored 20 points or more on 13 occasions heading into Tuesday’s matchup against Chicago (7:30 ET, League Pass).
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Season stats: 30.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.3 apg
The Nets overcame some adversity Sunday en route to their sixth-consecutive victory, trailing by as many as 19 points in that game before defeating the Pistons, 124-121. Durant contributed a game-high 43 points (his second outing of the season with 40-plus points), scoring 20 of his 26 third-quarter points in the final 3:18 to become the first player in the last 25 seasons to produce that many points in the final four minutes of any quarter. Durant also moved into 16th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (26,398 points), and is well on his way to All-Star Game No. 13.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Season stats: 33.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 4.6 apg
Embiid owned 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 against the Toronto Raptors. Embiid notched his 13th double-double as Philadelphia won its fifth-straight game — a must considering that five teams in the Eastern Conference boast win streaks of at least four games. Another lock for the 2023 All-Star Game — which would mark his sixth in a row — Embiid is averaging career-highs in scoring, field goal percentage (52.9%), assists (4.6) and steals (1.2).
Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards
Season stats: 22.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.7 apg
Washington’s record could keep Porzingis from making his second All-Star appearance, but the 27-year-old is low-key balling in just his second season with the Wizards. Most don’t associate Porzingis with defense, but the hustle stats say the big man ranks fifth in the league in contested shots per game (11.9) and he’s contested 345 total shots so far this season, good for fourth in the NBA. Now for the hard part: Washington is currently fighting through a 10-game losing streak and is 3-13 on the road. So, while Porzingis is producing like an All-Star, the team’s record might leave the veteran on the outside looking in when it comes to Salt Lake City.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Season stats: 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 riding a league-best seven-game win streak with Randle leading the team in scoring and rebounding. The one-time All-Star has tallied 25 points or more in five of his last six outings and his 13 double-doubles ranks 14th in the NBA. Randle hit two 3-pointers in Sunday’s win at Indiana to move past Nate Robinson for ninth in franchise history (415) in addition to passing Walt Bellamy for 28th on the team’s all-time scoring list (5,083 points).
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Season stats: 25 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 6.8 apg
He scored a season-high 38 points in Monday’s loss to the Sixers, which registered as his fourth performance of 30 points or more. But Toronto dropped its league-high sixth game that was decided by three points or fewer. Additionally, the Raptors are mired in a six-game losing streak, which is just the third skid of five games or more in coach Nick Nurse’s five seasons with the team. Toronto’s record could prevent Siakam from making what would be just his second All-Star appearance. But he’s already got the most career games (five) in Raptors history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Season stats: 30.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.1 apg
Tatum is averaging 30-plus points for one of the league’s best teams and is considered one of the favorites for the 2023 Kia MVP Award. Essentially, Tatum is a lock for his fourth-straight All-Star appearance. The 24-year-old is currently averaging career highs in scoring 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 is already up to 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).
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