8 Eastern Conference All-Stars candidates up front

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant look like safe frontcourt locks in the 2023 All-Star Game.

The Eastern Conference sent five frontcourt players to the NBA All-Star Game in 2022, and it’s almost a given that four will return in 2023 for the Feb. 19 competition in Salt Lake City.

Kevin Durant (12), Giannis Antetokounmpo (six), Joel Embiid (five) and Jayson Tatum (three) collectively own 26 All-Star nominations, and all should be barred from making another appearance under the bright lights among the league’s top players be . After that, however, the lead pool becomes murky for potential Eastern Conference All-Stars, especially considering a few viable candidates are playing on teams currently sitting under .500.

As already mentioned, the starting groups for both conferences consist of two guards and three frontcourt players. The reserve consists of two guards, three frontcourt players and two wildcard selections. Due to a Durant injury, only four frontcourt players competed in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference, which used its two wild card spots for guards Darius Garland and LaMelo Ball (who served as injury substitutes).

Listed alphabetically, here’s a look at eight Eastern Conference frontcourt players in the mix for 2023 NBA All-Star Game spots:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

season stats: 31.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 5.2 apg

Antetokounmpo helped Milwaukee start their current five-game road trip in New Orleans on a strong note Monday, by scoring 42 points in 12-for-17 shooting to give the Pelicans their fourth straight loss. The 28-year-old’s performance was the 28-year-old’s fourth 40-point performance this season (Milwaukee is 3-1 in those games) as the two-time Kia MVP scored 18 points in the second quarter alone in an 8-on-10 -Shooting scored . Antetokounmpo is currently on track to become the eighth player in NBA history to average 30 points or more, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a season. In the previous seven instances, only three of those players shot more than 50% from the field – and Antetokounmpo is currently shooting 53.3%.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has 42 points, 10 rebounds and shooting 70% in a big win against New Orleans.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

season stats: 21.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.9 apg

Missed seven games in November with a sore right knee but Miami is 6-3 since Butler’s return to the lineup on December 2. Bam Adebayo might, given his performance (20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 52.8 FG percent). But it’s more likely that Butler would make his sixth All-Star appearance for a Miami team in a four-game winning streak that has largely flown under the radar. In 20 games so far this season, Butler has scored 20 or more points 13 times before losing in Tuesday’s matchup against Chicago (7:30 ET, League Pass).

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

season stats: 30.4ppg, 6.6rpg, 5.3apg

The Nets overcame some adversity en route to their sixth straight win on Sunday, falling as much as 19 points behind in that game before beating the Pistons 124-121. Durant contributed a game-high 43 points (his second 40-plus point game of the season) and scored 20 of his 26 points in the third quarter in the last 3:18 to become the first player in the last 25 seasons to score that many points in the last four minutes of each quarter. Durant also moved up to 16th on the NBA’s all-time scorer list (26,398 points) and is on track for the No. 13 All-Star Game.

Kevin Durant catches fire in 3rd place, dropping 26 points to lead Brooklyn’s comeback from 19 down over Detroit.

Joel Embid, Philadelphia 76ers

season stats: 33.0ppg, 9.9rpg, 4.6apg

Embiid owned the longest active streak of 30-point games, but it ended at six on Monday when he scored 28 points (and 11 rebounds) in a 104-101 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors. Embiid hit his 13th double-double as Philadelphia won its fifth straight game – a must considering five teams in the Eastern Conference have at least four-game winning streaks. Another suspension for the 2023 All-Star Game — which would be his sixth straight — Embiid is averaging career-best goals, field goal percentage (52.9%), assists (4.6), and steals (1 ,2).

Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards

season stats: 22.4ppg, 8.9rpg, 2.7apg

Washington’s record could keep Porzingis from his second All-Star appearance, but the 27-year-old is playing low-key in just his second season with the Wizards. Most don’t associate Porzingis with defense, but the Hustle stats say the big man sits fifth in the league in contested shots per game (11.9) and has a total of 345 shots conceded so far this season, good for fourth place in the NBA. Now for the hard part: Washington is currently struggling through a 10-game losing streak and is going 3-13. So while Porzingis produces like an All-Star, the team’s record could leave the veteran behind when it comes to Salt Lake City.

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

season stats: 22.5ppg, 9.1rpg, 3.6apg

The NBA is in a better position when the Knicks are in the mix, and they’re currently on a league-best seven-game winning streak, with Randle leading the team in goals and rebounds. The former All-Star has scored 25 points or more in five of his last six games and ranks 14th in the NBA with his 13 double-doubles. Randle hit two 3-pointers in Sunday’s win in Indiana, passing Nate Robinson for ninth place in franchise history (415) and passing Walt Bellamy for 28th on the team’s all-time scorer list (5,083 points).

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

season stats: 25ppg, 8.6rpg, 6.8apg

He posted a season-high 38 points in Monday’s loss to the Sixers, which was recorded as his fourth performance of 30 points or more. But Toronto dropped their league-high sixth game, decided by three points or fewer. Additionally, the Raptors are on a six-game losing streak, which is just the third loss of five or more games in coach Nick Nurse’s five seasons with the team. Toronto’s record could prevent Siakam from making his second All-Star appearance. But he already has the most career games (five) in Raptors history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

season stats: 30.2ppg, 8.2rpg, 4.1apg

Tatum is averaging more than 30 points for one of the best teams in the league and is considered one of the picks for the 2023 Kia MVP award. Essentially, Tatum is a suspension for his fourth straight All-Star appearance. The 24-year-old is currently averaging career bests in goals and minutes (37) and is also shooting a career-best 55.7% in 2-point field goals at 55.7%. The sixth-year veteran missed Sunday’s loss to the Orlando Magic for what the team called “personal reasons.” But the forward already has four 40-point games this season and 15 in his career, which ranks third in franchise history behind Larry Bird (47) and Paul Pierce (21).

Jayson Tatum has held the top spot in the Kia MVP Ladder all season.

* * *

Michael C. Wright is senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him herefind his archive here and keep following him Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs, or Warner Bros. Discovery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *