The first returns of the fan All-Star voting was announced Thursday, and the Knicks were nowhere in sight. There was the perfunctory appearance from Derrick Rose as No. 9 among Eastern Conference guards, but those 220,000 votes were based on the point guard’s popularity from another era and with a different team, the Chicago Bulls.
It was a predictable shutout even though the Knicks are a marquee franchise with two legitimate All-Star considerations. After all, those two players, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, are neither flashy nor as popular as the higher vote-getters like Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even Knicks fans don’t seem convinced about Randle, alternating between booing the power forward and chanting ‘MVP’ at him over the last two seasons. Also the Knicks, under the all-business Tom Thibodeau and the franchise’s smothering media policies, don’t seem very interested in marketing their players. The less personality, the better.
Not a recipe for many All-Star votes.
So an All-Star appearance from the Knicks in 2023, if it happens, was always going to be on the reserves as a coach’s choice. We’ll examine the chances below by analyzing the Eastern Conference field. Keep in mind that while voting concludes in less than two weeks, there’s still almost a month before the seven reserves are announced for each conference.
THE 7 LOCKS
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets).
THE 13 FIGHTING FOR 5 RESERVE SPOTS
Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), Jalen Brunson (New York Knicks), Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), James Harden (Philadelphia 76ers), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks), DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Darius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Kristaps Porzingis (Washington Wizards).
You get the picture. It’s a crowded field. Scoring is up across the NBA and statistics are inflated, giving the Eastern Conference 24 players averaging over 20 points as of Thursday afternoon. Randle (averages of 24.2 points, 10 rebounds, 3.8 assists) and Brunson (20.8 points, 6.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds) are in that mix.
First, the important caveat: the time left before the announcement can sway the decisions. Teams and players can hit hot or cold streaks. This is still just an early look at the All-Star field.
Second, the Knicks won’t get two All-Stars. Although you could make an argument for Brunson AND Randle, a team in the middle of the conference won’t get two representatives. With that in mind, Randle is the obvious pick now as one of only two players averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds.
So what are his chances? It’s really a matter of priorities from the coaches choosing the reserves. If it’s about the statistics, Young, DeRozan and Siakam will get more consideration. If it’s about impacting winning, Holiday and Garland
Harden can fit into both categories but, if availability is a significant factor, his injuries will be a dissuasion (same with Garland and his DNPs).
Randle certainly has a chance and a very good one if he keeps up his production from December. We do know Randle wants a spot — not necessarily for himself, however, but for his family.
“You work hard to put yourself in a position to do that. So it would be amazing [to get selected to the All-Star team]. I love it,” said Randle, who made his first and only All-Star appearance in 2021. “Not necessarily for me, it’s great. But I love it to experience it with my family, with both of my sons. My wife. Because they’re the ones who make the true sacrifice of letting me dedicate myself to the game the way I’ve been able to do. Summers and night-in, night out. They’ve been the ones making the true sacrifices so I love to be able to let them enjoy it and see the rewards of it. That’s why it’s important.”