The NBA unveiled the starters for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game this past week, and a few faces familiar to Canadian hoop fans made the cut.
Canadian Andrew Wiggins was selected as a starter in the West alongside LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry and Ja Morant.
Former Raptors star DeMar DeRozan was selected in the East, with Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Trae Young filling in the rest of the lineup.
For Wiggins, the move to Golden State was an absolute rejuvenation for his career, and this season in particular has easily been his best all-around year since being drafted 1st overall in 2014. Wiggins has matured a lot both on and off the court, and the ability to play alongside greats Curry and Klay Thompson has taken his game to the next level. His numbers may not be as high as they were in Minnesota when he was their only real shot taker, but his stats are still impressive at 18.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 2.1 APG. His 3PT% is easily the best of his career at 41.2%, and his 48.3% from the field is the best he’s ever recorded as well. He’s struggled a bit at the free throw line, but other than that stat, this has been the most dominant version of Wiggins we have ever seen, especially on the defensive end where he has become a real lockdown wing. He was helped out by the fan vote, but it’s an incredible honour for Wiggins to be selected an all-star starter (in his first all-star appearance), and it’s the sign of great things to come for him moving forward.
Much like Wiggins, Raptors-great DeRozan has landed in the perfect spot: at the forefront of a Chicago Bulls team that is taking the NBA by storm. DeRozan has rekindled the magic he possessed in his prime Raptors years, and is averaging the second-highest PPG of his career with 26.5, with 5.0 RPG and 4.9 APG being nothing to scoff at. His field-goal percentage has been around his career average at an impressive 49.9%, and his 3PT percentage of 33.8% is respectable considering it’s not what he’s known for. It feels like DeRozan is having fun playing basketball again (no shade to his Spurs years), and his confidence is sky high. The competition was tough in both conferences for starting jobs but DeRozan is a legitimate pick for a starting role, and that should be something that Raptors fans can enjoy.
For Wiggins and DeRozan, the names that accompany them show the value in their selection. Every other starter named this year is a bonafide superstar, and it will be a beautiful sight for Canadian fans to see them take the court in Cleveland.
Beyond the starters, there are a notable list of possible all-star reserves to be voted in by the media.
In the East, there’s an incredible amount of depth in both the backcourt and frontcourt, with a few Toronto Raptors potentially getting the call. Fred VanVleet, LaMelo Ball, Bradley Beal, James Harden and Zach LaVine make up the biggest contenders amongst guards, while Jarrett Allen, Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum and Pascal Siakam are the biggest hopefuls in the frontcourt.
Over in the West the competition is just as fierce. Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards and Donovan Mitchell are some of the likeliest reserves in the backcourt, with Anthony Davis, Paul George (currently injured), Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns making up the favourites amongst the forwards/bigs. Draymond Green is heavily in the mix too.
The star-studded list of reserves will be announced on February 3rd, with the All-Star festivities taking place from February 18th – 20th in Cleveland, Ohio.