With the NBA set to unveil it’s All-Star reserves on Thursday, Knicks fans may have to prepare for some unfamiliar news: They won’t be represented in the weekend’s main attraction for the first time since 2009.
For some perspective, half of the 26 All-Stars that year now are out of the league.
Sure, there’s a chance one of the Knicks’ two star forwards will be chosen for the East squad. Whether Carmelo Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis is more deserving of the honor is up for debate.
With Eastern Conference coaches likely to add only three frontcourt players in addition to starters, here’s the case for each Knicks forward to make the roster along with a look at the competition.
The case for Anthony
Melo’s numbers entering Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks aren’t much different from last season, when he was voted a starter for the fifth time in five tries as a Knick.
His scoring average is up to 22.6, nearly a point more than last season, and he’s shooting better from beyond the arc — 37.1%, up from 33.9% a season ago. Most of his numbers are about the same, aside of dips in rebounds (6.0 per game, down from 7.7) and assists (3.1, down from 4.2).
Anthony ranks ninth in the conference in scoring, and the only frontcourt players ahead of him on that list — LeBron James (Cavaliers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) and Jimmy Butler (Bulls) — already made the squad as starters.
The case for Porzingis
The second-year pro, who will represent the World squad in All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars game, has seen his candidacy take a hit since the calendar flipped to 2017, but he remains worthy of consideration.
Porzingis’ 38.8% accuracy from 3-point range ranks ninth among East forwards. Only one player, the Bucks’ Jabari Parker, has posted a higher scoring average than the 21-year-old Latvian’s 18.9 mark.
The lanky 7-3 big man also poses a threat on the other end of the floor. He’s fourth in the conference with 1.92 blocks per game. No other player in the conference is as much of a threat to both stuff a shot on defense and sink a 3 on the next possession than Porzingis.
Will either make it?
It’s going to be tough.
The case for Kevin Love (Cavaliers) is similar to Anthony’s, but he’s a much better rebounder and plays for a much better team – the latter does matter. Incidentally, ESPN reported Wednesday that Cleveland turned down a swap of Melo for Love. That speaks volumes.
Paul George (Pacers) and Paul Millsap (Hawks) are established two-way threats, and either is more deserving than Porzingis this season.