How Many All-Stars Will The Indiana Pacers Have This Season?

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How Many All-Stars Will The Indiana Pacers Have This Season?

Post by admin » Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:49 am

NBA All-Star voting officially begins today. The league recently announced that fan voting is set to open on Christmas Day, so now is the perfect time to analyze who might make the All-Star team(s).

The Indiana Pacers currently sit at 21-10, which puts them near the top of the Eastern Conference. Win/Loss record alone can be a starting point in finding All-Stars; most good teams have at least one All-Star caliber player. But the Pacers might have more. With voting becoming possible, now is the perfect time to analyze which members of the blue and gold may be participants in the All-Star game.

Let’s move backwards, for ease of discussion. Which Pacers won’t make it?

Any player who comes off the bench can be eliminated. Starting games isn’t technically a criteria for being an All-Star, but players who aren’t good enough to start for their own team are almost certainly not one of the best 12 players in their conference. That is undeniably true for the Pacers; while their bench has played well as a unit, none of the individuals have been All-Star quality.

That leaves the starting five, but there are still some players who won’t be All-Stars among that group. Jeremy Lamb, for example, has missed too many games to be a worthy candidate. The same fact is true for Myles Turner, and his production is down from years past, making it hard to justify giving him a nod. T.J. Warren won’t make it because...

Well, my intuition was that Warren didn’t have a case for being an All-Star. But mabe he does. At first glance, it seems like he can be written off from this discussion, but that may be too hasty.

Through 31 games, Warren is averaging 17.7 points per game. But unlike in past seasons, he’s doing it on sparkling efficiency, his 54.3 effective field goal percentage is near a career best. Quietly, Warren’s combination of points per game and effective field goal percentage is only being matched by 16 other players in the league. Of those 16 players, only six are in the Eastern Conference; Warren has been one of the most efficient volume scorers in the East this season.

Warren is probably not going to be an All-Star. His defense is spotty, and outside of scoring he doesn’t offer a ton on offense. But his candidacy is better than one would think, and a huge stretch of games could put him into the conversation for an All-Star roster spot.

After Warren’s fringe inclusion into this discussion, that leaves just two more Pacers: Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon. Both players have excellent cases to be a part of the festivities this year.

Let’s start with Brogdon. Brogdon’s statistic-less case is obvious: he’s been the best player on a team that is 21-10. He makes everyone better by making life easier for his teammates on both offense and defense. In his new role, he’s been superb.

Statistically speaking, his case is built on a combination of scoring and passing. Only three other players are matching his current per game averages of 18.3 points and 7.6 assists: LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young. That’s quite the crew, and Brogdon only shares the Eastern Conference with Young.

Brogdon’s effect on the Pacers goes beyond counting stats, Indiana’s offense scores over 5.5 more points per 100 possessions with Brogdon on the court as opposed to on the bench. He simply makes the team more effective.

Looking at other guards in the Eastern Conference, only Young, Ben Simmon, Kemba Walker, and Bradley Beal have a surefire All-Star case. Brogdon is in the tier right after those guys, and he should be in Chicago for All-Star weekend as a result. A solid stretch of play during the voting process should cement his spot.

That bring us to Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is in the middle of his breakout season. He’s now a full-time starter for the Pacers and has translated his uptick in minutes to a large increase in total impact.

If either team clunks a shot in a game involving the Pacers, there’s a good chance the Lituanian big is going to grab the miss. Sabonis is listed at 240 pounds, but he plays more like a 350-pound person when he’s rebounding; he’s impossible to move. That allows him to clear out space and easily grab boards.

At the time of All-Star voting beginning, he’s up to 13,5 rebounds per game, which ranks fourth in the league. He’s no slouch as a scorer either. Fresh off a season setting the franchise record for shooting percentage in Indiana, he’s hitting 50.7 percent of his shots this season.

Sabonis continues to get better year after year, and only Andre Drummond is matching his combined scoring and rebounding production. Seriously, those two are the only guys currently averaging north of both 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The trouble with Sabonis’ All-Star case is that big men are lumped into the “frontcourt” players category for All-Star positional clarification. That means Sabonis has a bigger group of players to compete with for All-Star roster spots. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid are essentially locks to be Eastern Conference frontcourt representatives. Sabonis is in the next group of players, along with Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Drummond, and Bam Adebayo.

That’s a crowded group. A compelling case could be made to put Sabonis’ ahead of most guys in his tier, but each player has their own strengths and weaknesses that make it hard to decipher without more information. If any of those players, including Sabonis, put together standout performances throughout January, they will likely be headed to Chicago.

Because of the congested nature of the Eastern Conference frontcourt, Brogdon is more likely to be an All-Star than Sabonis despite having a worse overall case. But both players have been great this season, and each one has a shot to represent the Indiana Pacers during All-Star weekend. If they keep playing like they have been, there’s a chance Indiana has two All-Stars for the first time since 2014.

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