I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts recently of people sharing their All-Star starter picks and I’ve been intrigued by the guard position in the East. Kyrie’s a definite lock. He’s been the best guard in the East so far as our guy Kemba has tailed off some. The other spot is up for grabs. For the first two months of the season, it was easily Kemba’s spot. But, things have changed up until now so I think it’s time to take a look.
The four guys I think should be considered are Kemba, Ben Simmons, Victor Oladipo, and Bradley Beal. The first guy I crossed off that list was Victor Oladipo. This was surprising because a case can be made that he is the best player on this list when healthy because of his two-way play and shooting ability. However, he hasn’t played in the same amount of games as the others because of injury and you can see with his play that the injury has affected him. He’s only shooting 42.3% from the field and he hasn’t had the same ability to affect defenses like he did last season. He’s a great player don’t get me wrong but the injury is obviously affecting him and he has to be docked for it.
The next guy I crossed off was Bradley Beal. If we had another month before the All-Star game, he might be the guy. Since Wall went out, he’s averaged 28.5 PPG, six assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. The Wizards have gone 7-4 in that stretch with quality wins over Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Oklahoma City. He’s been unreal. However, the whole season matters and we have to take into account the dumpster fire that the Wizards were at first. The advanced numbers don’t love him either (probably because of the beginning of the season) as Simmons and Walker beat him out in VORP, WS/48, and BPM.
It comes down to Simmons and Kemba. Both have had really tremendous seasons. Kemba with his shooting (over 36% from three on over 9 attempts a game) and Simmons with his all-around game. The advanced numbers favor Simmons. He has a higher WS/48, BPM, and VORP, and PIPM. Simmons has the higher net rating but I believe that’s more because of Joel Embiid (-2.9 without him as compared to 7.6 with him). Kemba definitely does more with less. But, he does give some back on the defensive end because of his size. Simmons versatility on the defensive end has a lot of value. He’s a better passer and rebounder than Kemba. It’s a real argument between which player has had the better season. Do you take Ben’s positional versatility and play making or Kemba’s offensive prowess? I’m not totally sure. I think you can make a compelling case for either.
I didn’t totally answer the original question. I think you can go with either one. But, I will say that Kemba is definitely a deserving choice. At the end of the day, both guys will definitely be All-Star selections. Being a starter ultimately doesn’t matter because no one counts those. But it matters more for Kemba right now and so for that I hope he gets in as a starter. It’d be not only amazing for him but for the city of Charlotte.