Early NBA All-Star predictions: How many Sixers are in contention?

Joel Embiid, Sixers All-Star (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers All-Star (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Eastern Conference NBA All-Star predictions

Starting Five

Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton is one of most impressive guards in the NBA right now. He leads the league in assists per game (11.0) and barely ever turns the ball over (2.7 per game). He’s averaging 20.2 points on .488/.410/.859 shooting splits, making the leap in turns of volume without sacrificing efficiency. The Pacers are over .500 in a year many expected them to rebuild, largely because of how good Haliburton is.

Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers: He’s making the leap to full-blown superstardom. Donovan Mitchell has posted borderline MVP numbers for a Cavs team that looks more than ready to compete right now. He’s shooting out of his mind from everywhere on the floor (.496/.424/.890), delicately balancing his ability to bulldoze through defenders in the paint with his ability to rain down pull-up jumpers or create for teammates.

Jayson Tatum, Celtics: If the season ended today, Jayson Tatum would probably win MVP. He’s the best player on the best team, posting an efficient 30.0 points per game and helming the most harmonious offense in the league. He’s also an excellent wing defender, truly living up to the “two-way superstar” label.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: Living up to the mantle of “NBA’s best player,” Giannis has anchored the Bucks on both sides of the ball. Milwaukee is pretty definitively the second-best team in the NBA right and Giannis could quite feasibly win both MVP and DPOY at this stage in the season.

Joel Embiid, Sixers: The depth of superstar-level talent in the NBA right now has obscured just how insane Joel Embiid‘s production is. He’s averaging 33.4 points per game, the highest mark in the NBA, on impressive efficiency. His defense wavers night to night, but he’s mostly elite in that respect. He would be the MVP favorite if not for injuries and Philly’s relative struggles (and, again, the abnormally high volume of other absurd performances around the association so far).


Kevin Durant, Nets: Surprise, surprise, Kevin Durant is still the most nutty, unguardable offensive player in the NBA. His 3-point volume is momentarily down, but he’s supremely efficient inside the arc and still an unusually dynamic playmaker at 6-foot-10. He’s not done keeping Brooklyn on the map, it would seem.

Jaylen Brown, Celtics: Jaylen Brown is having the best season of his career, making another offensive leap for the best offense in the NBA. He’s an elite slasher and versatile defensive wing posting 26.8 points per game on .501/.345/.841 splits — pretty good!

Pascal Siakam, Raptors: The Raptors need to get the train back on the track as a team, but no one can fault Pascal Siakam. He has cemented his status as a top-25 player, dominating as a physical slashing scorer while averaging 8.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists and anchoring the Raptors’ unique switchy defense.

Jimmy Butler, Heat: Miami has to win more games, but Jimmy Butler has been as productive and efficient as we’ve come to expect. He still gets after it on both ends and, should the Heat’s record improve between now and February, it probably won’t take much convincing for NBA coaches to vote him in.

Trae Young, Hawks: Inefficiency has been the story of Trae Young’s season to date, as have rumors of discord in the locker room. But he’s still supremely productive (27.5 points and 9.5 assists) and the offensive fulcrum of a winning team. I’m willing to bet the shooting numbers will come around in time.

Darius Garland, Cavaliers: The arrival of the aforementioned Donovan Mitchell has only empowered Darius Garland more. He’s posting 21.6 points and 7.8 assists for the most balanced and potent offense west of Boston.

James Harden, Sixers: He can’t afford another extended absence (only 11 games played so far), but despite some local concerns about James Harden‘s play style, the production is undeniable. He’s the best set-up man in the NBA behind Haliburton, gifted at manipulating the defense off the dribble and leveraging his gravity to create for teammates. If the Sixers only get one injury-riddled guard in the All-Star game it will probably be Harden, by reputation if nothing else.

Honorable mentions: Evan Mobley (Cavaliers), Brook Lopez (Bucks), Jrue Holiday (Bucks), DeMar DeRozan (Bulls), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Tyrese Maxey (Sixers), Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers), Jalen Brunson (Knicks), Bam Adebayo (Heat), Franz Wagner (Magic)

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