Now that the NBA has announced their All-Star starters (no true power forwards and centers on both lineups, by the way), we got to follow suit but with some minor differences than the celebrated February classic.
Instead of three “Frontcourt” players, we will be selecting the best 5 from each traditional position and one Utility guy. Here are your 2016 Eastern Conference All-Stars:
PG: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
In the point guard position, you can either choose Lowry or Washington Wizard’s John Wall but this season, the Villanova product trumps his counterpart even in categories where you would think Wall has an advantage. J-Wall has significantly more assists per game (9,7 to 6.5) but Lowry has slim advantages in all others including scoring (20.9 to 20.1), rebounding (5.0 to 4.3), steals (2.3 to 2.2), FT% (88% to 78.6%), 3PM (2.7 to 1.5), and 3PFG% (38.3% to 34.9%).
Additionally, the Raptors currently stands at second place behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (while the Wizards is a below .500 team) and that counts, as well.
SG: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Butler is playing excellent basketball for the Bulls (22.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks) but as outstanding as his production is, he is even better when Derrick Rose is not around. D-Rose has a penchant of missing large chunks of games due to injuries and if that doesn’t happen, he could still be in line for DNP-rest as the season winds down in an effort to preserve him in the playoffs. If that happens, Butler could be the best fantasy asset this side of Stephen Curry!
In six games without Rose, Butler has averaged 34.3 points, 1.7 3s, 6.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals– all significantly up from his season averages. If you can target Butler with a sweet deal, you can reap the benefits later.
SF: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
In the East, LeBron James is the best SF in reality, but in fantasy, he is supplanted by PG13 but not by a mile. James still has time to gain ground, but as of this writing, “The King” trails by a slim margin to George, who edges him in FT%, 3PM, rebounds, and steals.
PF: Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Millsap’s counterparts in this position are not true power forwards but small forwards like Carmelo Anthony, James and George who is fantasy-eligibile for the slot. However, when it comes to dyed-in-the-wool 4-men, Millsap is head and shoulders above conventional power forwards like Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh.
The 30-year-old Millsap is averaging career-bests in scoring (18.4), rebounding (8.8), assists (3.5), steals (1.9), and blocks (1.4). His FG% is a little below average in his position (49.4%) but he doesn’t hurt you anywhere in percentage categories.
C: Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat
Again, as far as true centers in fantasy go, Whiteside is almost peerless in the East. Andre Drummond is the nearest and probably better overall than Whiteside, but his atrocious 35.8% free throw shooting on 7.8 attempts hurts his overall value that he recently dropped to 89th in the ESPN Player Rater, ranked below guys like Omri Casspi, Gorgui Dieng, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Whiteside, meanwhile, reigns supreme in big man numbers like blocks (3.9) and FG% (61.3% on 8.4 attempts) and his rebounding (11.2) could probably challenge the league-leading Drummond (15.5) if only he could play as many minutes as the Pistons big man does (28.9 to 34.1).
UTL: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
You really think a four-time MVP and arguably the best player on this planet will be left out in this fantasy All-Star thing? John Wall may have a better statistical season but James can probably be a 30-10-5 guy if he wants to. His season averages are not so bad: 25.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.7 blocks. Outside shooting remains a relative weakness but since that much-publicized statistic about James being the worst jump shooter in the NBA this season, his three-point shooting has improved significantly in 11 January games (42.8 percent in 2016, 18-of-42).
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