The NBA’s Eastern Conference has seen many star players move to the West this off-season. Next season, the East All-Star team will be an interesting group of new faces to replace perennial stars Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Paul Millsap. Three of the All-Star spots are reserved for Cleveland Cavaliers players, at least until LeBron James says enough. Still, LWOS is going to boldly predict the roster for the 2018 Los Angeles All-Star game. In this five-part series, LWOS will predict the starters for each position. We’ll name four candidates at each spot before narrowing it down to the top choice.
Starting Shooting Guard Prediction for 2018 East All-Star Team
Shooting guards in the modern era need to be able to put the ball on the floor and create. DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors is proof of most NBA teams’ desire for their two-guard to be a volume shooter. Shooting guards need to consistently lead their team offensively, whether by scoring, playmaking, or a combination of the two. Obviously, they need to be winning games as well, especially in a tight race for the starting spot. Only one shooting guard earned a spot in last year’s game. This year, the East’s shooting guards need to stand out even more than usual.
Any East shooting guards making a bid for the All-Star game will need to have long stretches of scoring binges. They’ll need to come through in the big games as a clear leader. Just like DeRozan, these players need to lead their teams to a winning record. Last year and the one before that, DeRozan propelled the Raptors to new heights, putting up monster scoring numbers to solidify his All-Star status. This year’s shooting guards who hope to be East All-Stars will need to do the same. Here are LWOS’s predictions for this year’s East shooting guards and their pursuit of an All-Star spot.
The Underdog Pick
The most unlikely All-Star of the East shooting guards is first: The Charlotte Hornets‘ Nicolas Batum. Charlotte made a big splash two years ago by signing Jeremy Lin and Batum. Those two helped lead the revamped Hornets to a playoff birth. However, the group did not stay together. Lin left in free agency, and the team suffered last season, missing the playoffs. Batum used to flirt with triple doubles on a nightly basis, but he didn’t last year. The incomplete team lacked a supporting cast needed for Batum’s skills to show. Now, the Hornets have a new identity, an improved bench, and more young players. Batum could find himself stat-stuffing once again. If he helps propel the Hornets back to playoff contention, he’ll make a strong case for his first All-Star appearance.
The Totally Out of Nowhere Pick
Avery Bradley is a long-shot pick to make the All-Star Game. The Detroit Pistons have a team that has worked together but hasn’t completely found a groove yet. The players are all talented, which should translate to a great team, but it just hasn’t worked out. Bradley could be the glue guy who brings it all together. He has a unique combination of smarts, defensive play, and scoring. He can help the Pistons to work as a unit and become cohesive. If Detroit surprises the East and sneaks into one of the bottom seeds this season, people will start to look at the team’s roster come All-Star weekend. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are the best players on the team, but Bradley could sneak in due to his well-rounded game.
The “Chasing the Crown” Pick
Bradley Beal, like most East shooting guards, plays second fiddle to the point guard. However, a sky-high shooting percentage and 20 points per game can draw attention. His four 40-point performances helped him last season, too. Beal led the Washington Wizards in scoring multiple times during the 2017 playoffs. He won’t be in John Wall‘s shadow forever. Beal has shown that he’s ready for the spotlight. If it isn’t yet obvious that he stands shoulder to shoulder with Wall, nobody will doubt it after this season. Beal is the most likely player to snatch DeRozan’s starting spot.
DeRozan has dominated the shooting guard position for years in the East. He’s earned his starter status by doing just that: shooting. He fills it up for his team and shoots some more, and when he wonders what he should do next, he shoots. The modern media find his percentages unsavory. However, his team flirts with a top seed year after year, and he finds himself the top scorer night after night. In truth, DeRozan doesn’t have to do anything different to keep the crown.
Bradley Beal’s combination of scoring and percentages will finally win over the fans and media. The Wizards will be near the top of the conference due to the combination of Beal and Wall. Beal makes it hard to slot DeRozan in again at the shooting guard position. Meanwhile, teams are still working out the kinks, including the Raptors. Beal takes the starting spot with a combination of health, strong play, and a hot start.
Embed from Getty Images