Beal and Wall make strong cases to be chosen as reserves

Plus, All-Star reserve picks for who else should join them in Los Angeles

On Thursday, the NBA announced the five starters for each conference for the 2018 All-Star Game based on fan voting, media voting, and player voting: Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins.

Both Bradley Beal and John Wall received one vote from the media. Wall had 57 player votes and Beal had 43 player votes. Based on the combined weighted score from the fans, media, and players, Wall finished 5th and Beal 6th.

The reserves, two guards, three forwards, and two wild cards per conference, will be announced on Tuesday. These 14 players are selected by the coaches, which will take place over the weekend.

Before the season began, Beal was poised to join his backcourt mate John Wall this season at the NBA’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles in February. Beal, who is averaging career-highs in points (23.7), rebounds (4.3), and assists (3.8) should be an All-Star without question this season.

Beal is 7th in the East in scoring, fourth among guards. He’s recorded 34 games this season with 20 or more points, the most by an Eastern Conference guard. The Panda even became the youngest player in NBA history to make 700 3-pointers.

"Bradley Beal is playing at an All-Star level this year," Cleveland Cavaliers forward and 13-time All-Star LeBron James said earlier this season.

“Absolutely. It’s not even a discussion, right?” Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel said of Beal earlier this month. “He’s 25 points a game, 4th or 5th seed in the East. One of the best scorers in the league. I don’t think it’s even a debate.”

“I thought when John was out, he really carried the torch and he’s really exploded,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “His defense has gotten better, I think. His all-around game has gotten better. He’s a heck of a competitor.”

Beal carried the Wizards while Wall was hurt, when Markieff Morris missed the beginning of the season due to a sports hernia and when Otto Porter Jr. has been out recently with hip and back issues. Beal won Eastern Conference Player of the Week to close out 2017, has played in all 45 of the Wizards’ games, and has undoubtedly been the team’s MVP.

Just ask Wall, who has played with Beal for six seasons now.

“To me, to be honest, I don't think there's any 'hope', should be put in the category," Wall said about Beal's chances. "He's been the MVP of our team. One of four guys to have 50 point games. Been leading us throughout ups and down when I was injured, when Keef [Morris] was injured, when Otto was out. Even when us guys were back, he was still leading our team in scoring. But just doing so much more for our team, I think this should be an automatic lock for him for him to be an All-Star."

Wall may have a tougher time being selected, but he deserves a nod as well. Entering this season, Wall had been selected to four straight All-Star Games, but Beal and Victor Oladipo will likely claim both reserve guard spots. Wall will hope to be picked as one of the wild cards, and has a good chance to be chosen.

The four-time All-Star is the heart and soul of the Wizards, the driving force that gives them another dimension. He's the first guard in NBA history to average at least 19 points, nine assists, one block, and one steal in a season. Wall leads the East in assists per game at 9.3 and the next-closest job is 7.3.

Missing 11 games this season may have hurt his early All-Star candidacy, but Wall has shown in recent play why he deserves to go to Los Angeles for a fifth straight All-Star appearance. In eight games in January, Wall is averaging 24.1 points, 11.0 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game as well as 48.3% from beyond the arc.

Since Wall returned from knee soreness that kept him out for nine straight games in late November and early December, the Wizards are 11-7. During that stretch, the Wizards have had inconsistent play, but Wall has certainly proven why he’s one of the best players in the Eastern Conference.

“They have two All-Star caliber guards and you have to deal with them,” Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe said after Monday’s game.

Beal and Wall’s fate rests in the Eastern Conference coaches now, with voting taking place over the weekend and reserves being announced on Tuesday and drafted rosters on Thursday. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks knows where he stands about his backcourt.

"I think John is the best point guard in the East. I think Brad is having an All-Star year,” Scott Brooks said after practice on Tuesday. “They are definitely in my mind two of the best guards in the East."

Picks for the rest of the 2018 NBA All-Star teams:

East Reserves
G – Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
G – Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
F – Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
F – Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
F – Al Horford, Boston Celtics
WC – Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
WC – John Wall, Washington Wizards

East Honorable Mentions
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

Victor Oladipo and Al Horford arguably deserve to start, but didn't get starting nods. The wild cards are tough decisions, but it's tough not to reward Kyle Lowry for the Raptors' success, even if his statistics are down a bit. Goran Dragic could definitely be picked for the Heat's success, while Ben Simmons is a candidate to sneak in as well with a stellar rookie season. If the Pistons would have finished the first half a bit stronger, Andre Drummond would be picked without a doubt.

West Reserves
G – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
G – Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves
F – LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
F – Karl Anthony-Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
F – Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
WC – Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
WC – Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

West Honorable Mentions
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets
Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

It's really hard to leave out Draymond Green, but Klay Thompson's incredible shooting gets Thompson in over his teammate. Having four players from one team is a lot for only a 12-player selection, though Green is still one of the most valuable players in the league. Paul George's defense has hit another level this season as well, narrowly beating out Green at forward. Damian Lillard finally deserves a return to the All-Star Game with the career season he's put together and the way he's kept that team afloat. If Chris Paul played more games, he'd be in the starters discussion.