2022 All-Star

Trending Topics: Who are your 5 All-Star starters from the Eastern Conference?

NBA.com's writers give their picks for the East starters in next month's All-Star Game in Cleveland.

DeMar DeRozan (left) and Trae Young are popular picks among our writers for East All-Star spots.

The first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2022 will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 6. Ahead of that announcement, NBA.com’s writers and analysts give their take on who the East starters should be.

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Steve Aschburner:

Backcourt: Trae Young and DeMar DeRozan
Frontcourt: Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and
Joel Embiid

Young is pushing Kevin Durant in the NBA’s scoring race and the conference’s most deserving legit point guard. There’s no denying DeRozan — the Master of the Mid-Range — and his All-Star impact with the Bulls or his “clutchiness.” Durant is a Top 2 Kia MVP candidate from the season’s start, he’s been carrying the Nets as the Best Achilles Recovery Ever. Antetokounmpo is on track to become NBA history’s only four-time 25/10/5 player. Embiid has been the king of the road, averaging 28.7 while shooting 51.4% (45.7% 3FG) in away games.

Mark Medina:

Backcourt: Trae Young and DeMar DeRozan
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid

It’s scary to think that Antetokounmpo appears more dangerous than even last season’s NBA championship run. He is currently one of two other NBA players to average at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Should Antetokounmpo maintain those numbers, he would become the first player in NBA history to average those marks in four separate seasons. But what would you expect? Antetokounmpo has remained both dominant with his athleticism and strength, while versatile with his ongoing improvement with his outside shooting and passing. Durant has become a better player than even before he tore his right Achilles tendon with the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. The reasons? Durant had over a year to heal an injury that has become either career-ending or limiting for other players. Durant has still mastered his scoring role with his post-up presence, footwork and length. And Durant has taken on a larger workload without an unvaccinated Kyrie Irving and an occasionally injured James Harden.

Even on a team full of All-Stars, DeRozan deserves both to start and finish in this season’s All-Star Game. Why the start? DeRozan currently ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (26.9 points per game) and has become the primary reason why the Bulls have become a serious playoff contender in only his first season there. Why the finish? DeRozan leads the league in fourth-quarter points (249), and recently became the only player in NBA history to make game-winning buzzer-beaters in back-to-back games. There’s no valid excuse to exclude Young just as he was in last year’s All-Star Game and the U.S. Olympic team. In his fifth NBA season, Young has posted at least 25 points for a career-high 16 consecutive games and came within a point of breaking Dominique Wilkins’ single-game scoring record with his 56 vs. Portland on Monday. Young also entered Monday’s games leading the NBA this season for most double-doubles involving points and assists (17). Embiid has kept the team still in the playoff picture with his on-going dominance in the post. In December, Embiid became the only NBA player to average at least 29 points and 11 rebounds. He also has averaged a career-high 4.0 assists. Embiid has fulfilled this job description despite missing eight games after testing positive for COVID-19 and missing two other games because of minor ailments.

Shaun Powell:

Backcourt: Zach LaVine and Trae Young
DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo 

LaVine is slightly better than his breakout season of a year ago, a certified bucket-getter and suddenly, a bit improved defensively, which was a weak spot for him. He’s shooting 50-40-85 and averaging roughly 26 points while sharing the offensive load, especially in the fourth quarter, with DeMar DeRozan. Young’s Hawks aren’t a top 5 team right now, but unlike the All-NBA selections, team success isn’t massively crucial when it comes to All-Star selections. Besides, Young ranks among the top 5 in scoring and assists, and that’s good enough.

DeRozan is the NBA’s finest fourth-quarter scorer to date and is once again sticking a finger in the eye of the analytics crowd and a foot inside the 3-point line. He’s sixth in the league in scoring and fueling the Bulls’ transformation into a title contender. Durant has been doing it all as a solo star in Brooklyn for a good chunk of the season while surrounded by spare parts and role players. If his current season scoring average holds at 29.7 ppg, it’ll be the third-highest of his career. That’s phenomenal considering the legendary pace he has set for himself. Antetokounmpo is arguably in the early lead for Kia MVP, impacting the game at both ends like nobody else. At 27.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg and 5.9 apg, he’s essentially the same Giannis who won a pair of MVPs.

John Schuhmann:

Backcourt: DeMar DeRozan and Trae Young
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and
 Joel Embiid

Of the four groups, this was the toughest, because, if you consider DeRozan a forward, there was no obvious pick (good team, elite player) on the first pass. So the best thing to do was to slot DeRozan here — he is officially listed as a guard on the All-Star ballot, after all — to make room for Embiid in the frontcourt (not sure if we’ll be able to do that in the actual selection process). The analytics crowd is fine with DeRozan, by the way. He gets to the line a ton (and shoots well there), he has better than a 2/1 assist/turnover ratio, and if you’re going to shoot mid-range shots, you just need to make ’em. He’s not Kevin Durant in that regard, but he’s not Andrew Wiggins either. The second spot is between Young and Zach LaVine. LaVine has obviously had more team success and has been the more efficient scorer and better defender (wild). But Young ranks third in the league in usage rate for the team that ranks second in offensive efficiency. If the Hawks weren’t so bad defensively (and he certainly has something to do with that), that usage/success combination would put him in the Kia MVP conversation.

Once you move DeRozan to guard, this becomes fairly easy, especially with Embiid and the Sixers having won four straight games to push themselves comfortably into the “above .500” group in the East. He hasn’t shot as well (especially from mid-range) as well as he did last season, but is still the anchor for Philly on both ends of the floor.

Michael C. Wright:

Backcourt: Trae Young and DeMar DeRozan
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Joel Embiid

This starts out pretty simple if you just take a quick glance at the NBA standings, where Chicago, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee occupy the top three spots. DeRozan, Durant, and Antetokounmpo are the best players on those three teams. It’s time DeRozan returned home to the NBA All-Star Game, where he hasn’t been since 2017-18. Yeah, I’m a little biased towards DeRozan, but let’s not forget this man is definitely a part of the Kia MVP conversation right now. Young is second in the NBA in scoring (28.4 points per game) and No. 3 in assists (9.5) and is probably the most deserving of a starting backcourt spot among East guards. Hopefully, Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball gets some love as one of the reserves because he deserves to be there, too.

> More Trending Topics: Who are your 5 West All-Star starters?