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Every year, the NBA’s All-Star weekend brings together the best players for a must-watch exhibition game that attracts millions upon millions of viewers from all around the globe. Number of All-Star appearances is an oft-used metric when discussing the game’s best players, so make no mistake – being voted in to this game is a highly sought after accolade. Five players are selected as starters from each of the Eastern and Western Conferences, with a combination of fan voting (50%), media voting (25%) and player voting (25%) determining which five stars will begin the game on the court. The two sides are overflowing with star power every year, and the 2023 edition – set to take place on the 19th of February in Salt Lake City – is no different. Let’s take a look at the ten players who will start the game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (captain): The Greek Freak, as he is affectionately known, will make his seventh All-Star appearance and his sixth as captain, having edged out Kevin Durant in the voting. The two-time MVP has enjoyed another outstanding season; at the time of writing he’s averaging a career-high 31.8 points on a typically efficient 53.6% shooting, 12.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists, while simultaneously being among the best players in the world on the defensive end of the floor. Giannis has never played a game he didn’t want to dominate, and expect that to extend to the All-Star exhibition.
Kevin Durant: Kevin Durant’s glittering career has already seen him notch up an incredible 12 All-Star appearances, and this year he’ll make his 13th after another brilliant season for the Nets. He was the Brooklyn’s shining light in a slow start to the season, averaging 29.7 points on 55.9% shooting (a career-high), but though a knee injury has kept him out for a number of weeks, he was still an easy choice to make the Eastern Conference’s starting line-up. Durant is in something of a race against the clock to be fit for the game, but the latest reports suggest he’s hopeful of being ready to go.
Jayson Tatum: Tatum might be just 24 years of age, but already this will be his fourth All-Star appearance. The talented forward is having the best season of an already excellent career, averaging over 31 points, eight assists and four rebounds, and has been the best player on perhaps the best team in the NBA to date this season. He’s established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate, and though he’s likely to be edged out by a couple of opponents having otherworldly seasons, that he’s even in the conversation is indicative of how good he has been.
Donovan Mitchell: Donovan Mitchell will make his fourth All-Star appearance in Salt Lake City, having been the top-rated Eastern Conference guard by the media, and second by both the fans and the players. Mitchell’s first season in Cleveland has been a raging success thus far; he’s averaging a career-high 27.6 points per game while shooting close to 40% from long range, and alongside his backcourt partner in Darius Garland has been a key cog in the Cavs impressive start to the season.
Kyrie Irving: The second Brooklyn Net starting for the east, Irving struggled to get on the court for a myriad of reasons early in the year, but since Durant has been out he has taken on the role as the Nets’ most important player with aplomb. Averaging over 27 points, five boards and five assists, Irving is arguably the most watchable player in the game, with his extraordinary ball handling and shot making ability meaning he will be great to watch in his eighth All-Star appearance.
LeBron James (captain): By the end of his career, LeBron James will be leading an inordinate number of statistical categories, and with this selection he’s jumped into a tie for first with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star appearances in league history. This will be LeBron’s 19th All-Star appearance and his sixth as captain (in the sixth year in which there have been captains). Aged 38, he may no longer be in his athletic prime, but averaging over 30 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists, it’s safe to say he’s still well and truly worthy of this accolade.
Nikola Jokić: It’s been over 35 years since anybody won three consecutive MVPs, but Nikola Jokić looks well on his way to doing just that, with Getsetbet currently having him as an odds-on favourite to win it. The winner of the last two MVP awards, Jokić has only got better this year, averaging a 25-point triple double and controlling the floor like no other center, and few other players at all, in the history of the game. He is the focal point of his Nuggets team, leaders of the Western Conference, and his uncanny passing ability should be on full show in Salt Lake City.
Zion Williamson: After missing the entirety of last season, Zion Williamson didn’t miss a beat in the early parts of this season, averaging 26 points, seven rebounds and 4.6 assists through his first 29 games. Unfortunately, his season hasn’t continued since, with the tendency for injury which has been such a persistent part of his career to date rearing its head just after the new year. His career has now been on hold for over a month and the Pelicans have fallen off a cliff without him, but nonetheless his performance over the early stages of the year were enough to earn him a second All-Star appearance.
Steph Curry: It’s often overlooked that, despite being 34 years of age, Steph Curry doesn’t appear to have lost a step. Of course, his shooting is his defining characteristic, but his ability to get to the rim and finish, as well as move off the ball, could feasibly be expected to have dropped off somewhat at this age. It hasn’t. He’s averaging close to 30 points per game and over six rebounds and assists, while also shooting nearly 43% from three. This will be his ninth All-Star appearance, and as per usual, expect plenty of jumpers from the logo this time around – many of which will probably drop.
Luka Doncić: He’s got a long way to go, but by the time his career ends, Doncić could very well be right up there for most All-Star appearances in history. At the age of 23, this will be his fourth in five years, and comes in what has been his best season yet. His numbers are eye-catching to say the least; over 33 points per game and nearly a triple-double average, and while that’s partly a result of the heavy load he’s forced to carry on his Denver team, he’s still averaging over 50% from the floor while doing it, so it’s certainly not requiring a great deal of sacrifice in efficiency. Expect him to be a staple of this game for many years to come.
The 2023 NBA All-Star game will be the 30th edition of the event, taking place in the same place where it all began; Salt Lake City. Every year this event sees a collection of extraordinary players, but with the star power at the top of the league in another stratosphere this season, this will be one of the best groups to take the floor we’ve seen. From veteran superstars like LeBron and Curry to the next generation like Doncić and Williamson, there will be a freakish amount of talent on the floor to start this game, making it a must-watch event.