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NBA All-Star selections: Steph, LeBron, Lillard face battle to get a start as new generation takes over

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13th January, 2024

The changing of the guard is taking shape with Steph Curry, LeBron James and Damian Lillard facing the prospect of missing out on being an All-Star starter and James Harden getting snubbed again. 

Curry and LeBron are no guarantee to make the Western Conference starting five due to the poor records of their Warriors and Lakers respectively. 

Lillard looked a walk-up starter when he shifted from the crowded West to Milwaukee in the off-season but his output has dropped significantly as a Buck and his defensive limitations are being exposed. 

His points per game were always going to take a hit after being Portland’s go-to guy with the greenest of green lights in the NBA to sharing the limelight in Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo but to go from 32 to 25 is a large step backwards.

Also, his shooting and three-point percentages have dipped from 46.3 and 37.1 in his final year as a Blazer to 43 and 35.2 at the Bucks. Not alarming but one of the reasons why Milwaukee have been in a slump, losing four of their past six outings, prompting Giannis to call out the entire organisation to lift their game when he very clearly was referring mainly to Lillard. 

The 2024 All-Star game will be held in Indianapolis just over a month away on February 18 with the NBA reverting to the traditional East vs West format after six years of the teams being appointed a captain who drafted their squad.

Here’s how the race for the All-Stars is shaping up with the starters announced in less than a fortnight (January 25) and the reserves, selected by the coaches, named on February 1.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 02: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 02, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Eastern All-Stars

Antetekounmpo, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Philadelphia centre Joel Embiid and Pacers guard Tyrese Halliburton are locked in. 

Haliburton should be the main attraction in Indy but he suffered a grade-one hamstring strain earlier this week after a nasty slip led to him doing the splits against the Celtics and being carried off. The Pacers haven’t said when he will be back but he should be right to receive the hometown welcome onto the All-Star floor.

Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell should get the other backcourt berth ahead of Lillard. Despite being in trade rumours, Mitchell has carried the Cavaliers this season, pouring in 45 in their win in Paris during the week over Brooklyn and averaging a tidy 27.9 points, 5.7 assists and 5.5 rebounds.

That leaves Lillard, Trae Young, Tyrese Maxey and Jalen Brunson fighting it out for the bench berths. 


Lillard and Young will likely get the nod as the biggest names even though they are not enjoying their best seasons. 

Brunson has been electric for New York but could end up being an unlucky omission for the second straight year with Maxey having a better case after successfully stepping into the lead playmaking role at Philadelphia. 

Young should be the one to miss out – he’s an elite scorer but his efficiency has again left a lot to be desired and Atlanta are struggling in 11th spot in the East with a 15-22 record.

There has been talk that Derrick White’s improved output at the Celtics could put him in the mix but that’s not going to happen. 

In the front court, Heat duo Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo should be shoo-ins along with Boston wing Jayden Brown. 

The other spot is wide open with Toronto pair Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes, Orlando rising star Paolo Banchero, Knicks forward Julius Randle and Nets wing Mikal Bridges. 

Banchero probably deserves the second wildcard spot at the end of the bench but Randle looks like he will get the nod even though Brunson has again been the better Knicks player but faces greater competition for a backcourt vacancy. 


East All-Stars squad (should be): Tyrese Halliburton, Donovan Mitchell, Giannis Antetekounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid (starters). Damian Lillard, Tyrese Maxey, Jalen Brunson, Jimmy Butler, Jaylen Brown, Bam Adebayo, Julius Randle. 

Western Conference

In the West, Luka Doncic is listed only as a guard after being also listed as a forward in previous years so Curry and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are the other guard frontrunners. 

SGA has been a more consistent superstar for the Thunder but Curry’s reputation, despite a rare recent shooting slump, will likely propel him to the other starting gig. 

Dual MVP Nikola Jokic is the only player you could say is a lock to start in the Western Conference with Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James in a three into two won’t go scenario for the forward spots. 

Kawhi, after casting aside his resting policy, has been back to his 2019 Raptors vintage form. It should be time for LeBron to finally be relegated to the bench but Kawhi or KD will probably miss out. 


For the other five spots, Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards is a sure thing for a guard spot with Phoenix sharpshooter Devin Booker a likely but not guaranteed option. 

Lakers veteran Anthony Davis should be rewarded for his ongoing excellence despite the team’s modest record while Karl-Anthony Towns’ offensive weaponry should outweigh Rudy Gobert’s defensive process to get Minnesota a second spot. 

Paul George being an integral part of the Clippers’ resurgence means he should also get an All-Star nod, which leaves New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram, who has overtaken Zion Williamson, as their go-to guy, Kings duo Domantas Sabonis and DeAaron Fox on the outside looking in 

There’s also rising stars in Lauri Markkanen, Chet Holmgren and Alperen Şengün on the periphery but even if injury replacements are needed, it’s hard to see them stealing a spot.

Nikola Jokic defies LeBron James. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Harden will yet again think he should be an All Star after filling his role as the Clippers’ playmaker since his trade from Philadelphia. 


But it’s hard to see him cracking the 12-man roster. 

Last season his form dropped significantly after he was snubbed for All-Star selection, probably undeservedly so, despite thriving in a similar situation at the 76ers where he checked his ego for the good of the team. 

The Clippers can’t afford for that to happen again as they don’t have too many bites of the championship apple left with Leonard, George and Harden well into their 30s. 

West All-Stars squad (should be): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic (starters). Steph Curry, LeBron James, Anthony Edwards, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George, Devin Booker.