Once the 10 starters and 14 alternates from each Conference chosen to be part of Team West and Team East are known, we have been able to verify that some of the most relevant players in the league have been left out.
Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolwes)
Minnesota Timberwolves standoutRudy Gobert is emerging as the favorite to win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award. After overcoming minor injuries last season, he has resumed his role as a dominant player in the paint, being the key anchor of the defense that has the Wolves leading the NBA.
While not surprising with his offensive prowess, Gobert has surprised by crashing the glass with force and demonstrating excellent chemistry with point guard Mike Conley. His average of over 13 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks per night not only highlights his defensive skills but also his ability to contribute on the scoreboard. Without Gobert's presence, it is hard to imagine the Timberwolves maintaining their current leading position in the Western Conference with an impressive record of 34 wins and 14 losses.
A year ago, Gobert was considered a key pick after a disappointing season, especially considering the trade of five first-round picks the Wolves made to get him. This season, however, Gobert is back to full health, and his impact in Minnesota is undeniable. The Wolves boast the league's best defense, thanks in large part to the elite rim protection and defensive rebounding provided by Gobert.
De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings)
De'Aaron Fox, despite his standout performances and the Kings sitting atop the Western Conference standings, Fox was left out of the All-Stars despite earning this recognition for the first time last year. The Kings' 5 has had a fantastic performance, averaging 27pts/4rebs/5asits. His evolution as a shooter has been remarkable, hitting an impressive 38% on three-point shots, and his speed remains one of the best in the league.
Despite these individual accomplishments, the competitiveness at the point guard position in the Western Conference has left Fox out of the All-Star Game. The point guard has raised his scoring average to a career-high 27.5 per game thanks to an improved triple-double. This increase in his production has been pivotal for the Californian's franchise, who have experienced a significant turnaround with the presence of Fox and Sabonis on the court.
Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks).
The Hawks' 11, despite having an excellent individual season, finds himself in a complicated situation with his franchise as the team faces struggles and fights for a playoff spot. Young, a 25-year-old point guard, stands out as an offensive catalyst, ranking 10th in scoring with an average of 27 points per game and second in assists with 10.9 per game behind only Tyrese Haliburton. His three-point shooting has improved, hitting 36.8%, and he remains adept at generating free throws at a high rate. However, the team's lack of success has affected his individual recognition, as the Hawks have disappointed by falling below 50% wins. The Hawks may need adjustments, but Trae Young remains a valuable asset who could be critical to the team's future.
Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento Kings)
The Kings center has been ignored for All-Stars despite earning recognition last season. Sacramento's mediocre defensive performance could have contributed to this omission, but the saturation of elite players at the center position in the West could also be a factor.
Despite this, Sabonis has proven to be a key player for the Kings, averaging nearly 20 points and leading the league with over 13 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 61% from the field. His ability to generate extra possessions for Sacramento, both offensively and defensively, has been vital to the team's success. Sabonis continues to be one of the best inside scorers and rebounders in the league. His versatility in the post game makes him an impactful force for the Kings. Despite not receiving the attention he deserves in the awards, Sabonis has been a significant contributor to the Kings' solid performance, winning 60% of their games thus far. The Lithuanian's role as a playmaker and his pick-and-roll ability for the team's offense are crucial aspects that have gone unnoticed in the selection for the All-Star game.
ScottieBarnes (Toronto Raptors)
Scottie Barnes has emerged as a standout for the Toronto Raptors this season. While the wins have not come in a big way, Barnes' development has been evident. The 21-year-old has become one of the league's most versatile small forwards in his third season, exhibiting an improved three-point shot, impressive vision as a passer. Despite not being selected as an All-Star, the leap Barnes has made this season should not be overlooked. He's in the conversation for the season's Most Improved Player award.
The Raptors' 4 previously struggled with his outside shooting and has improved it dramatically, hitting a respectable 36.3%. This progress has fueled a five-point increase in his scoring average, which now stands at 20 per game. In addition, he has proven to be a key playmaker for the Raptors, averaging 5.7 assists per game. Barnes' defensive season has also been outstanding, showing his versatility by wreaking havoc with his weak-side rim protection and ability to disrupt passing lanes. His ability to play a variety of positions has been essential for the Raptors.
The franchise put its trust in Barnes when trading Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, and so far, the move looks promising. While the results in terms of wins may not have fully materialized, Barnes has established himself as a key piece for the Raptors' future.
Also worth mentioning is Victor Wembanyama, who, despite his brief time in the NBA, has made a lasting impression. Playing from the center position and having a pure point guard such as Tre Jones to accompany him on plays, the Frenchman is scoring prominently, averaging 20.6 points per game along with 10.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Individual recognition is often influenced by team performance, but it's important not to overlook the individual contributions that shape the narrative of an exciting season. With the playoffs on the horizon, these players will be key to their teams' success in the quest for the coveted NBA ring.