NBA All-Star 2020: With starters revealed, which East, West players should earn reserve spots?

Thursday night's reveal of the 2020 NBA All-Star starters didn't stir up much controversy.

The Western Conference starting five was easy enough to predict, and while some fans might quibble with the Eastern Conference selections, that could be more a product of positional designations than the actual votes. Jazz center Rudy Gobert speaks for a lot of frustrated NBA fans and analysts — sorry, Jimmy Butler.

NBA ALL-STAR 2020: Final results from fan vote

How about we rectify the situation with the reserve picks? There will be snubs with only seven spots left in each conference (two guards, three forwards, two wild cards), but that's always the case ahead of All-Star weekend.

(Note: Sporting News did not have an official media vote for All-Star starters this year. Reserves are chosen by NBA head coaches.)

Eastern Conference All-Star starters

Position Player Team Fan rank Player rank Media rank Weighted score
G Kemba Walker Celtics 3 1 1 2.0
G Trae Young Hawks 1 3 2 1.75
F Giannis Antetokounmpo* Bucks 1 1 1 1
F Pascal Siakam Raptors 2 3 4 2.75
F Joel Embiid 76ers 3 2 2 2.5

*Captain

Eastern Conference All-Star reserves

G: Ben Simmons, 76ers

Simmons has been a defensive monster this season. He leads the NBA in steals per game (2.2) and is fourth in deflections (3.8). His aversion to the 3-point line will always be a problem, but he is averaging 16.3 points and a career-high 8.4 assists per game while shooting 58.0 percent from the field. He is also a primary reason why the Sixers went 6-3 without Joel Embiid.

G: Kyle Lowry, Raptors

The veteran point guard makes his presence felt every second he is on the floor. His efficiency isn't great (41.0 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from 3-point range), but he is averaging 19.8 points, 7.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds with the usual defense, hustle and leadership. The Raptors are one game ahead of the Heat for second place in the East. They wouldn't be in that position without Lowry.

F: Jimmy Butler, Heat

Again, Butler has a strong case to start, but you know, positions. He is thriving individually in Miami (20.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists per game) without swallowing up possessions (a usage percentage around 25, similar to Kristaps Porzingis or Montrezl Harrell). Butler is a legitimate two-way star. Just ask Heat coach Erik Spoelstra about his impact.

F: Bam Adebayo, Heat

And Butler's buddy is coming with him. Adebayo is the perfect small-ball center. He is a capable scorer and rebounder (16.0 points, 10.4 boards per game), not to mention an underrated passer (4.7 assists). He can protect the paint, but he is quick enough to switch on the perimeter without getting dusted by smaller guards. The scary part? He is 22 years old.

F: Domantas Sabonis, Pacers

Sabonis is a double-double machine, third in the NBA (37) behind only Antetokounmpo and Andre Drummond (38 each). He has terrific footwork and feel around the basket, giving Indiana's guards an ideal pick-and-roll partner. It's no surprise he is second in screen assists (7.0) after the masterful Gobert (7.6).

WC: Khris Middleton, Bucks

The NBA's best team deserves another All-Star, and Middleton is the logical choice. He is hovering around 20 points per game and shooting the lights out (50.3/43.2/90.0 splits on field goals, 3-pointers and free throws). He has also been a key contributor for the Bucks' dominant defense (No. 1 in defensive rating by a significant margin).

WC: Jayson Tatum, Celtics

Tough call on the last wild card between two Celtics forwards. Tatum slides above Jaylen Brown despite being less efficient. Both players are strong defensively, but Tatum has to shoulder a heavier offensive burden and is closer to the No. 1 option when Kemba Walker isn't running the show. There is also a much larger dip in performance when Tatum sits compared with Brown.

Snubbed: Jaylen Brown, Celtics

It would be completely understandable if Brown receives the nod over Tatum, but it's hard to kick any other reserves out. Don't be wicked mad, Bostonians!

Western Conference All-Star starters

Position Player Team Fan rank Player rank Media rank Weighted score
G Luka Doncic Mavericks 1 1 1 1
G James Harden Rockets 2 2 2 2
F LeBron James* Lakers 1 1 1 1
F Anthony Davis Lakers 2 2 2 2
F Kawhi Leonard Clippers 3 3 3 3

*Captain

Western Conference All-Star reserves

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

Sure, the Blazers aren't very good. Don't blame Lillard. He is averaging a career-high 29.0 points per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent on 3-pointers. That would be impressive on its own without factoring in the brutal run of injuries for Portland. It's basically been "Dame Time" all season long.

G: Devin Booker, Suns

Booker is right around his scoring numbers from last season but way more efficient in 2019-20 (58.4 true shooting compared with 63.4). He has taken a few steps forward as a defender (like trying), and Phoenix goes from a top-12 team with Booker on the floor (3.0 net rating) to the bottom five when he's on the bench (minus-6.0 net rating). Give the guy his first All-Star appearance.

F: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Speaking of first-time All-Stars, this has to be a lock. Gobert is once again a worthy candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and he's scoring 15.7 points per game on nearly 70 percent shooting. He was the biggest snub last year, so let's not do this again. Jazz fans might riot.

F: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

"The Joker" started slow, but before you yell about his placement here, check out his numbers since Dec. 1 (30 games): 22.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game on 53.2 percent shooting and 37.9 percent on 3-pointers. He is one the top offensive creators in the game, regardless of position.

F: Brandon Ingram, Pelicans

When the Pelicans dropped down in the West standings after a 13-game losing streak earlier this season, it felt like they took Ingram's All-Star chances with them. However, New Orleans is not yet out of the race for eighth, and Ingram should be recognized for his efforts. He is averaging 25.0 points per game (14th in the NBA) and has seen a major jump in efficiency (40.4 percent from 3-point range, more than 7 percent better than 2018-19 with the Lakers).

WC: Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

Mitchell has been a major contributor during the Jazz's recent stretch of 19 wins in 23 games. He reaches his usual individual totals (25.0 points, 4.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds) but doesn't seem to hurt Utah's ball movement. Gobert's case is more airtight, but Mitchell is a solid pick.

WC: Chris Paul, Thunder

Thought Paul would disappear in Oklahoma City? Nope. The 34-year-old has been outstanding for the Thunder, especially when the game is on the line. He is the top clutch scorer in the league and shooting an absurd 54.3 percent in crunch time. Once he reaches the elbow, defenders should simply walk back toward the other end because it's cash. Glad to have you back, CP3.

Snubbed: Paul George, Clippers/Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

George and Towns are unquestionably All-Star-caliber players, but the lack of playing time is too much to ignore. George has logged only 26 games (799 minutes) this season, and Towns is at 30 (1,004 minutes). Compare them with someone like Ingram (43 games, 1,482 minutes) or Paul (48 games, 1,516 minutes), and there isn't a ton of room for debate.