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Setting The Pick – All-Star Snub Redemption

Sacramento Kings Domantas Sabonis - The Canadian Press

The All-Star rosters were officially announced Thursday night and as the discourse typically goes, plenty of noise was made about those who were left off the team.

Everyone’s got their own list of who is and isn’t deserving of making this year’s team.

One thing that I’m sure isn’t up for debate is that all the players on the bubble believe they deserve the All-Star recognition.

Last season, a few notable stars were left off the rosters – James Harden, Jimmy Butler, and De’Aaron Fox.

Harden led the league in assists and had Philly owning the second-best record then.

Butler led the league in steals and had another All-NBA season, eventually taking Miami to the NBA Finals.

Fox was co-leading a Kings team that was the darling of the NBA, seven games above .500.

How did these snubs perform the day after All-Star rosters were announced?

Harden – 17 points, 4 rebounds, 13 assists

Butler – 29 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists

Fox – 29 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists

Harden finished well above the 10.7 apg he averaged, Butler’s 29 points was six points better than his 22.9 ppg clip, and Fox’s 29-point performance was four points above his closing average of 25.0 ppg.

I’m not suggesting it’s guaranteed that this year’s snubs will lash out at the first opportunity they get, but it’s a good narrative to play off of while highlighting who was most deserving.

Domantas Sabonis

As two fellow Californian markets, Sacramento media will surely highlight how the Lakers have two All-Star selections as a .500 team while the Kings are currently 5th in the West at 27-19 with zero selections.

Oh, the injustice.

After making last year’s team in his first full season with Sacramento, Sabonis has put up better numbers across the board this year.

He’s registered 13 triple-doubles, one short of league leader Nikola Jokic.

As an All-NBA Third Team member last season, being a Top-15 overall player in the league should suggest he deserves to be one of 24 All-Stars, right?

With all this talk about the 65-game floor for NBA awards, Sabonis should also get some credit for not missing a single game this season.

Ultimately, the 30 NBA coaches felt Minnesota deserved more credit as the No. 1 seed and went with Karl-Anthony Towns.

At 27-years-old, I’m willing to guess Sabonis cares enough about the snub to warrant a high floor on the betting front tonight.

As an added bonus, he faces his former team, the Indiana Pacers, who allow the third-most points per game and the most points in the paint.

The play: Sabonis over 20.5 points and over 13.5 rebounds

Trae Young

In NBA history, there have been three instances where a player averaged more than 25 ppg and 10 apg and didn’t make the All-Star Team, as per SportsCenter. 


There’s no question Young is a polarizing player.

For all of his offensive gifts, he puts an equal amount of strain on the Hawks’ defence.

He deserves his fair share of blame for Atlanta owning the league’s worst record against the spread (12-35).

To his credit, his 27.0 ppg is 11th in the NBA, and he sits 2nd in apg behind Tyrese Haliburton at 10.9.

I don’t believe a team that sits seven games below .500 deserves an All-Star selection, which is why I disagree with those who claim Scottie Barnes deserves a spot.

But circling back up to my opening note, I guarantee Young looks at himself in the mirror and feels slighted by the omission.

It’s the same energy he likely carries for not being selected to represent Team USA (even on the FIBA squad).

Putting up similar numbers last season, Young went off for 31 points and 10 assists after being left off the 2023 All-Star team.

The Hawks get a decent matchup against a Suns defence that has given up above-average games to similar point guards like Luka Doncic (34-8-9) and De’Aaron Fox (33-2-6).

With Jusuf Nurkic protecting the paint, Young should be able to find easier looks for his teammates at the rim.

The Play: Young over 10.5 assists

Jamal Murray

The defending champion Nuggets are 1.5 games out of first in the West and sit third in the conference.

OKC has one representative in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, while the aforementioned Timberwolves were granted two selections in Anthony Edwards and KAT.

Minnesota is getting credit from the coaches for being atop the West.

Why doesn’t Murray get more credit for being the 1b to the league’s most deadly pick-and-roll duo?

After recovering from a season-ending ACL injury two seasons ago, the Kitchener native has rehabbed his body into the best shape of his career.

He helped lead Denver to a title last season and is putting up career-high numbers this year in points, assists, blocks, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage.

Understandably, there is a massive shadow cast by Jokic, who is on pace for his third MVP trophy.

But if we get into a discussion about impact on winning, I find it hard to argue that Towns has been more integral to Minnesota’s success versus Murray’s impact in Denver.

Towns is nowhere near his career-best in any statistical category, and the strength of this T-Wolves team doesn’t even align with his skillset.

The Wolves are a defensive juggernaut this season, and most of the responsibility falls on Rudy Gobert.

An argument can be made that Towns is the least impactful starter for Minnesota on that side of the floor.

Does Murray feel slighted by this omission? It’s impossible to know without asking.

I do feel, coming off a championship season, he’s not getting the recognition he deserves.

Tonight, Denver faces a Portland defence that ranks 10th-worst in the NBA.

Murray’s minutes have been ramping up in January. He’s averaging 34.3 mpg this month versus 29.8 in the three months prior and is in a prime position to put up buckets.

The play: Murray 25+ points