The 2024 NBA All-Star game is still more than two months away. But it’s not too soon to think about who will participate in the game.
Could this be the season that the Thunder get two players in the game again? That hasn’t happened since Russell Westbrook and Paul George represented OKC in the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
As a personal amusement over the years, I started looking at potential All-Stars around Thanksgiving (except for those seasons impacted by lockouts or a global pandemic). I’ll have another look at the landscape around Christmas.
As a reminder, the NBA holds a fan vote for five starters in each conference — two guards and three frontcourt players. The reserves are selected by the coaches, who aren’t necessarily beholden to positions.
The media and players also vote for the starters, but the fan vote carries more weight. The additional voting is sort of a backstop to decrease the chances of an unusual player making the leap to All-Star starter. In 2016, a straight fan vote almost rewarded journeyman center Zaza Pachulia with a starting spot. The league installed some guardrails after that.
Also, injuries and trades can shake up this list. It’s also possible that a player who has been sidelined much of the season so far, such as Phoenix’s Bradley Beal, could emerge over the next couple of months. This list is just a snapshot of how I’m feeling as of the end of November 2023.
Without further ado, here are the players I expect will win the fan vote:
F — Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns; LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
C — Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
G — Steph Curry, Golden State Warrior; Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
These are all pretty self-explanatory. Fan voting is a popularity contest. Curry, James, Jokic, and Doncic were west starters last season, and remain immensely popular around the globe. It seems reasonable that Durant would get more votes than last season’s fifth starter, Zion Williamson (Anthony Davis had more fan votes, but media and player votes moved Williamson up even though he ultimately was unable to play in the game).
However, don’t discount the possibility of Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander getting in over Doncic. SGA was fourth among west guards last season, just slightly behind Ja Morant, and his Q-rating is on the rise.
G — Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves: Edwards is also becoming wildly popular and was named an All-Star last season. He’s a virtual lock to make the team again, especially if the Wolves continue to crank out victories. Edwards is averaging over 26 points per game this season.
G — Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: The 27-year-old Suns guard keeps finding ways to improve. Whether he will be healthy in mid-February is another topic, but unless a long-term injury sidelines him soon, he’s another shoo-in.
G — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder: Like Edwards, Shai made his All-Star debut last season. Pull out the sharpie and write his name on this season’s roster as well. Again, the only question will be whether he starts or comes off the bench.
G — De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings: The West is crazy loaded with terrific guards. Fox missed some time earlier this season but not enough to squeeze him off the team so far. He’s averaging nearly 30 points per game so far this season.
C — Anthony Davis, LAL: Davis’ offensive production is down from last season but he’s still dominant. As with Booker, the only thing that could keep him off the roster and out of the actual game is his health. He was not named an All-Star in 2023 largely due to an injury suffered in mid-December last season.
C — Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings: Here’s where you can start splitting hairs about who makes the squad. I’m going with Sabonis for now because he’s still playing at an All-Star level and coaches tend to stick with who has made it before. If the Kings are near the top of the west, that would help his cause as well.
F — Paul George, LA Clippers: George still has star power and has a case to earn yet another All-Star nod. But if his team doesn’t turn things around, coaches might choose to reward another player instead.
C — Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder: The redshirt rookie is off to an incredible start to his career. Some advanced metrics — such as Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares, and Value Over Replacement Player — place him among the players on this list. He looks like an All-Star mainstay in the near future. If OKC remains near the top of the west and Holmgren continues to establish himself, coaches may have a tough vote. If he misses the initial cut, he may be on the shortlist of injury replacements.
C — Alperin Sengun, Houston Rockets: This is hard for some Thunder fans to hear, but Sengun is excellent. The Rockets look competent and Sengun is leading the team in scoring and rebounding. Whether he would have fit what OKC is building is a story for another time, but Houston did extremely well picking him up and he’s delivering on the hype that surrounded him in the lead-up to the 2021 draft.
F — Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: Towns is a former All-Star so that could work in his favor when coaches sit down to vote. He has All-Star level stats and the Wolves are winning. If that continues then he could easily join Edwards on the team.
G — Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets: Murray’s stats don’t jump off the page like some others on this list. But some have wondered if Murray would finally be rewarded for being a perennial playoff killer. He seems more likely to be named as an injury replacement.
G — Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks: Irving got the most votes among Eastern Conference backcourt candidates last season. Because he remains a popular and recognizable name, he could conceivably rack up votes in the West this season. Maybe it’s him and not Gilgeous-Alexander that sneaks into the starting lineup. If he isn’t named a starter, it’s tough to see him getting into the game over the guards listed above.
F — Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans: Both players have ASG-worthy stats, and both are former All-Star participants. As mentioned above, Williamson was named a starter due to his play and the fact that the Pelicans were second in the west in early January. But that success has not carried over to this season so far. If the Pels go on a hot streak in the next month, we may need to revisit these two. It seems unlikely both would make it, but the healthiest of the two has a shot.