So, naturally, it’s time to turn attention to the Eastern Conference, which added a couple of 2022 All-Star guards from the West in Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray to an already deep pool that features a total of 17 All-Star nods between two players — James Harden and Kyrie Irving — that aren’t even locks to make this year’s squad.
The starting groups for both conferences feature two guards and three frontcourt players and the reserves are made up of two guards, three frontcourt players and two wildcard selections. Seven guards from each conference played in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
Here’s a quick look at eight guards from the Eastern Conference that should figure prominently in the mix for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, listed alphabetically:
1. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Season stats: 26.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.7 apg
It’s hard to believe Brown has played in only one All-Star Game. But the 26-year-old dropped 22 points with eight rebounds and eight assists on Monday in helping the Celtics drop Toronto to 9-3 at home. Interestingly, Brown and MVP candidate Jayson Tatum have each poured in 30 points or more in 16 games together, which is tied for the third most by any duo in NBA history (the Celtics own a record of 15-1 under those circumstances). Brown is currently averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, field goal percentage (50.4%) and free throw percentage (83.2%), and Monday’s performance marked the 88th career game he finished without a turnover.
2. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
Season stats: 25.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.7 apg
The 14-year veteran and five-time All-Star isn’t slowing down. DeRozan ran off a string of seven straight games from Nov. 16-30 with 25 points or more, marking the second time he’s accomplished that feat as a member of the Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan did it 30 times). Both DeRozan and 2022 All-Star Zach LaVine have struggled somewhat this season with bouts of inconsistency and Chicago has lost four of its last five outings on a six-game road trip that closed Sunday at Sacramento. The Bulls are 9-14 entering Wednesday’s matchup against the Washington Wizards (8 ET, NBA League Pass).
3. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Season stats: 22.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 7.7 apg
Donovan Mitchell lights up the scoreboard, but you could argue that Garland is the engine that makes Cleveland run. The fourth-year guard made his first All-Star Game last season and is currently averaging career-bests in scoring, minutes per game (35.9) and 3-point percentage (40.8%). Garland has dished 10 dimes or more in five games this season and currently ranks among the league’s top five in assists. Still, it might be difficult this season to get two Cavaliers guards into the All-Star Game.
4. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
Season stats: 21.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 9.7 apg
Harden returned from a 14-game absence on Monday, scoring 18 points with seven assists in a 114-112 double-overtime loss at Houston. His potential game-winning shot didn’t quite go as planned. The truth is, Tyrese Maxey is probably the All-Star guard on these Sixers, but he’s missed the last nine games due to a foot fracture. As for Harden, he’s played in just 10 games this season … but he’s also been an All-Star in 10 straight seasons since becoming a full-time starter in 2012-13, his first season with the Rockets. Is this the year Harden finally misses?
5. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
Season stats: 19.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 10.9 apg
Missed his first game since joining the Pacers on Sunday due to a left groin injury, then sat out Monday against the Golden State Warriors. But, over the course of 22 games this season, we’re seeing the rise of one of the NBA’s best facilitators. During a three-game stretch from Nov. 25-28, Haliburton became the first player with 40 assists or more and no turnovers during such a span since individual turnovers became a tracked statistic (1977-78). The 22-year-old currently leads the league in assists.
6. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
Season stats: 28.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.9 apg
So far, Mitchell is living up to his billing as arguably the most significant acquisition of the offseason. He has scored 30 points or more in 12 games this season, which was tied for fifth in the NBA entering Monday. The 26-year-old is scoring at a career-best level and is one of two players (Stephen Curry is the other) this season that has knocked down 75 or more 3-pointers at a clip of at least 40%. Check out Mitchell and the Cavaliers on Tuesday as they host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on TNT (7:30 ET).
7. Dejounte Murray, Atlanta Hawks
Season stats: 21.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 6.7 apg
The pairing with Trae Young seemed promising at first, but it’s still a work in progress 24 games into the season with more positives than negatives. Murray scored a team-high 24 points in Monday’s loss to Oklahoma City, shooting 3-for-5 on 3-pointers with two steals. Murray currently ranks No. 3 in the NBA in steals per game (1.8), and he’s had 14 games with two or more steals to go with six outings with three steals or more. Murray was selected as an injury replacement for Draymond Green in the 2022 All-Star Game.
8. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Season stats: 27.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 9.6 apg
Dished plenty of nice dimes, but they proved insufficient Monday as the Atlanta Hawks surrendered their sixth double-digit lead of the season (which ties for sixth in the NBA) in a 121-114 loss to the Thunder. The 24-year-old has now put together 141 games with 10 assists or more to go with 139 point-assist double-doubles, which ranks as the most in team history. The two-time All-Star also found himself in the news on Monday discussing a recent disagreement with Hawks coach Nate McMillan. Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks likely won’t get two guards into this year’s All-Star Game.
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