The race for the Eastern Conference’s second backcourt spot for this year’s NBA All-Star Game was a tight one with Damian Lillard barely edging out Jalen Brunson. 

The New York Knicks’ lead guard may not have made it to the starting line-up, but he should have no problem making it to the East’s reserves list given how spectacular he has played this season.

Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers is expected to join Brunson as the second guard on the Eastern Conference bench although Tyrese Maxey and Trae Young also have done enough to warrant this spot. Mitchell should get the nod here for his efforts in keeping the Cavaliers afloat in the playoff race despite the extended absences of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. 

Over in the East’s frontcourt, NBA All-Star Game veterans Bam Adebayo, Julius Randle, and Jaylen Brown are all tipped to make the reserves list. They have all played essential roles on teams that are in the thick of the postseason race which makes their likely selection a no-brainer. 


The pair of East wild card spots may ultimately come down to Maxey, Trae Young, and Scottie Barnes. Maxey is in the midst of his breakout season and is well deserving. He has helped keep the Philadelphia 76ers close to the top of the standings despite losing James Harden which definitely warrants him a spot in the All-Star game. 

The last wild card boils down to Young and Barnes who are having strong seasons, yet their candidacy is bogged down by the so-so records of their respective teams. The fact that Barnes has taken a major leap this year could end up giving him an edge over Young and may secure him his first ever NBA All-Star Game appearance in just his third season in the league. 

Meanwhile in the West, there are several players who were deserving of starting spots who should have no problem being named a reserve. 

Stephen Curry leads this group and was right behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the voting for the second West backcourt spot. The Golden State Warriors have struggled this season, but Curry is not to blame for this as he continues to put up stellar numbers at the age of 35. The reputation and resume that he has built through the years definitely helps, though this is far from a “lifetime achievement award” type of NBA All-Star selection as he still continues to play at an elite level. 

The other guard spot is likely to go to Anthony Edwards who is now unquestionably the best player on the Minnesota Timberwolves who have been leading the West for most of this campaign. Kawhi Leonard and Domantas Sabonis should earn spots in the frontcourt as well as their teams are right behind the Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder in the standings. 

The third frontcourt reserve spot may go to Anthony Davis of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament champion Los Angeles Lakers. Davis has defied his reputation as an injury-prone player and is slowly taking over from LeBron James as the Lakers’ best player.

The two wild cards in the West should be awarded to Devin Booker and Lauri Markkanen. Both players have been on a tear over the past few weeks and this has helped push their teams up the standings. Recent bias definitely helps their case to make the All-Star roster and gives them an advantage over other potential candidates such as De’Aaron Fox, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George and Rudy Gobert. 

The challenge in selecting the reserves for this year’s NBA All-Star Game continues to reflect the ever deepening talent pool across both the Eastern and Western Conferences. Regardless of who is selected though, this year’s festivities should be memorable as the league brings back the classic East versus West format.