The 2022 NBA All-Star Game is just over six weeks away! It's time to make some predictions for who will be representing the league's elite. In this article, I will be providing my selections for this season's Western Conference starters. Keep in mind, the All-Star Game follows a draft format, so the players you see below won't necessarily be playing together on February 20. With that being said, let's discuss some of the NBA's best in the 2021-22 season.
Curry is continuing to dazzle, remaining in contention for Most Valuable Player at 33 years old. Not only did he break the all-time 3-point record, but he leads a Warriors team with the best record in the league. He has struggled in his last 15 games, shooting just under 38 percent from the field. Nonetheless, the way he attracts defenses like a black hole creates opportunities for his teammates.
The 13-year vet is first in the league in 3-pointers made per game (5.3), first in real plus/minus (11.2), and fifth in points per game (27.2). He’s converting a career-low 42.7 percent of his shots, but there’s a good chance that he raises that figure before the All-Star Game and through the remainder of the season. Curry's a unique talent that can leave his mark on a game in a matter of minutes—we could see a few half-court rain-makers on February 20.
Morant is bursting onto the scene in year three. After averaging 18.5 points per game over his first two seasons, the 22-year-old is pouring in 25.1 points per game. He’s hitting a career-high 40.0 percent of his 3-pointers, and he’s upped his steals while cutting down on fouls and turnovers. Things just seem to be coming together for Morant, picking up where he left off after a knee sprain in late November that cost him a month.
He’s cemented himself as the Grizzlies’ franchise superstar, guiding them to the fourth seed in the West after finishing eighth last season. And he’s been fearless—Morant scores 13.6 points per game (first in the NBA) off of 20.7 drives to the basket per game (second). The sky is the limit for Morant, who will look to make his first of many All-Star appearances.
It’s been a difficult season for the Lakers, but James is enjoying one of the best statistical seasons of his career. Oh, and he turned 37 years old in December. Talk about aging like fine wine. He’s averaging his most points per game (28.6) since 2010, and he’s second in the league in field goals made per game (10.6). James’ field goal percentage of 52.0 percent and 3-point percentage of 37.0 percent are his most efficient since 2018 and 2014, respectively.
James has been stellar without a reliable supporting cast besides Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. But even Davis and Westbrook have had their question marks—the former is out with an MCL sprain and the latter has been inefficient and careless with the ball at times. But James has done it all for Los Angeles. The Lakers have recently been deploying a small-ball lineup featuring James at center, and it’s worked scarily well. It’s not a sustainable change, but it’s a testament to the versatility and basketball IQ of one of the best players in NBA history.
Green sports pedestrian counting stats (8.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.3 BPG), but All-Star voters would be remiss to leave him off their ballots. He’s a glue guy in every sense of the word and the epitome of a team player. Green’s a defensive mastermind (leads the league in defensive plus/minus)—he locks up 7-footers with ease because he understands tendencies better than anyone. This is demonstrated by his defensive box plus/minus of 4.7, which leads the league. At 31 years old, he has lost a step but still knows when to reach in for a steal or elevate for a block.
The Michigan State alum’s balanced statline is just a microcosm of his ubiquitous impact on the court. He’s an elite playmaker and is trusted to bring the ball up the court. His All-Star case is definitely helped by being a Warrior and boasting the best record in the NBA. But his presence cannot be overstated, as a player, entertainer, and voice in the locker room.
After becoming the first center to win MVP since 2000 last season, Jokic is having another dominant season. He’s near the top of just about any basic statistic you look at, averaging 25.7 points (eighth), 14.0 rebounds (second), 6.9 assists (12th), and 10.1 field goals made (second). Look through a more advanced lens, and he sits on a pedestal. Jokic leads the league in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), box plus/minus, Player Efficiency Rating, FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR, and more.
It’s been a tough season for Jokic and the Nuggets, who are missing two of three core members in Jamal Murray (torn ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery). Somehow, Denver still sits at fifth in the Western Conference, an attestation to Jokic’s importance. It’s plausible that he is named MVP once more if he manages to drag the Nuggets to a top-four seed going into the playoffs.
Note: All statistics are accurate as of Wednesday night.