All 24 spots have been filled in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City on Feb. 19.
The 10 starters were revealed last week, and we now know who will fill in the 14 reserve spots.
Joel Embiid being left off the starter list was one of the biggest surprises last week, but there’s no surprise that he made it as a reserve. However, his Philadelphia 76ers teammate James Harden was left off the roster completely despite putting up a solid offensive season so far. Jimmy Butler, Trae Young, De’Aaron Fox, Darius Garland and Jalen Brunson join Harden as the backcourt stars that were left out this year, while Jrue Holiday made it in with mostly a defensive résumé.
A handful of young players made their first All-Star Game, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Haliburton and Lauri Markkanen. Jaren Jackson Jr. will also make his first All-Star appearance in one of the more surprising selections of the night.
Our experts break down the biggest surprises and snubs from this year’s All-Star reserves, and with what they’re most looking forward to seeing at this year’s event.
1. Who is the biggest surprise?
Tim Bontemps: I didn’t expect Jaren Jackson Jr. to make it after missing a chunk of games to start the season, but he’s been the most dominant defensive player in the league for one of the best teams in the West, so I can see why the coaches rewarded him.
Jamal Collier: If I had to choose one New York Knicks player, I would’ve gone with Brunson over Julius Randle. When looking at the position breakdown, I can see how the East needed another big on the roster, but Brunson’s addition in free agency has been the biggest offensive difference in New York’s season.
Nick Friedell: Holiday. I would have given Brunson the nod here but Holiday has been his same solid self and got rewarded for it. The Bucks aren’t up near the top in the East without him.
Mark Spears: Biggest surprise was the Holiday making it. Holiday has respectable offensive numbers, but not stellar nightly. But defensively, he is one of the most menacing players in the league and doesn’t get the accolades he deserves there. Milwaukee also has the second best record in the East, and was deserving of two All-Stars.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Holiday. Certainly, he is an All-Star caliber player — especially defensively where he is elite — and a huge part of what the Bucks do. But there was serious competition at point guard in the East with the likes of Brunson, Harden, Young and Darius Garland getting snubbed.
2. Who is the biggest snub?
Bontemps: Jimmy Butler has missed time with injuries, but he’s one of the best players in the league and should be in this game. I’d have had him make the team over Randle, but the truth of it is there are several players in the East — including Harden, Brunson and Pascal Siakam — who all deserved to make it, but there just weren’t enough spots for them all.
Collier: Harden isn’t the player he once was in Houston, but he’s having an excellent season for a team that’s right there at the top of the East with Boston, Milwaukee and Brooklyn, each of whom got two All-Stars. But you could build an entire All-Star team with the players snubbed and there are only 12 spots in each conference.
Friedell: If Butler hadn’t missed so much time due to injury he would be on the team, so the biggest real snub to me is Brunson. He has really played well under Tom Thibodeau and has stabilized the Knicks this season. I would take Randle off and have Brunson be the Knicks’ representative.
Spears: I was very surprised that Kings guard De’Aaron Fox didn’t make it. Fox has been the engine that has driven the Kings to be in position to make their first postseason appearance since 2006. Ultimately, the West coaches didn’t feel that Sacramento deserved two All-Stars and went with Domantas Sabonis. I’m sure Fox is crushed, but making the playoffs will cure that pain.
Youngmisuk: Fox. He has led the high-octane Kings to the third-best record in the West and is averaging 24.3 points and 6.1 assists. He is shooting 50.6% from the field, has been clutch for the Kings and has played stellar defense. The Kings aren’t where they are without Fox. Surely he will be on a short list of injury replacements if needed.
3. How has getting snubbed as a starter affected Joel Embiid’s play?
Bontemps: It hasn’t. Embiid was deservedly named the East’s Player of the Month on Thursday after a dominant performance throughout January, not because of a couple games after finding this news out.
Collier: Embiid has a right to be upset. The position limits on the ballot this year were silly and left voters with an impossible choice to leave one of four deserving players out of the starting lineup. If this slight leads to him being even more dominant, good luck to whoever tries to stop him.
Friedell: Embiid is playing like the player or coach who says they don’t pay attention to any snubs, real or perceived, but goes out of their way to find all kinds of those snubs wherever they may be. It looks like he is playing at a different level since the announcement — which is good for him — and even better for the Sixers.
Spears: I don’t know that you really have extra motivation playing in a laid-back All-Star game. The biggest way to make a statement is to win an NBA championship or make the Finals. Two of the forwards selected ahead of him won NBA titles and the other played in the last Finals. Getting to the Finals this year is the biggest way to change that.
Youngmisuk: It’s just another chip to add to a shoulder that already has more chips than a Chips Ahoy cookie. Embiid is already motivated to prove voters wrong that he is not the MVP. Look no further than his 47-point, 18-rebound, 5-assist performance against Nikola Jokic on Jan. 28. And now he has this to fuel him even more. Let’s hope he remembers all this in the playoffs.
4. Who do you think will be picked last in the pregame All-Star Draft?
Bontemps: A terrific player. However this draft plays out I suspect there won’t be someone standing by themselves for a long time at center court as the last player picked.
Collier: Does anyone remember who was picked last year? I’ll echo the crowd here, you still get to be an All-Star and can carry some extra motivation to show up in the game.
Friedell: Who cares. You’re still an All-Star. This game, more importantly the prestige that comes with this game, still means a great deal to the players all across the league. They know who is a certified All-Star and what that represents. That selection matters – what doesn’t matter is who might get picked last in some draft.
Spears: I have no idea who will be picked last, but they have nothing to be ashamed about. I would rather be the last player selected to play in the All-Star game, than not being able to be picked at all. Such will be the case for about 430 NBA players. I’m sure the All-Star snubs would love to be the last player taken.
Youngmisuk: It doesn’t matter who is picked last. The All-Stars are all worthy and certainly whoever is picked last will have opportunities to provide highlights and show their worth.
5. What do you most hope to see during the 2023 ASG?
Bontemps: A competitive game with a close ending. The 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago was terrific theater. Give me another one like that.
Collier: Ja Morant repeatedly trying to dunk a basketball he has no business trying to dunk but pulling it off.
Friedell: All I want is competitiveness. The league has tried several different ways to generate more competition over the past few years — just keep doing anything you can to make players care. I don’t like watching an All-Star game when it feels like everyone is just going through the motions. Anything that gets away from that, even for a few possessions here and there, is good with me.
Spears: I’m always a sucker for the NBA slam dunk contest. I hope it is fantastic. A great dunk contest sets the tone for a fun weekend while a bad one always feels like a downer. I also really like how each quarter of the NBA All-Star game that each conference now plays for a charity. It did a great job of making the game play more competitive. I love seeing the excitement of the charities that win the quarter.
Youngmisuk: Just want to see it go down to the end with the All-Stars caring and playing to the end like the game means something. I know in the grand scheme of things it’s best everyone stays healthy first and foremost. But it is always fun when the best in the world go at each other at the end when the game is close and on the line and players don’t look like they’re ready to bounce and get on a private jet to head to a secluded island.