Who should start in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game?

Siakam vs. Embiid (NBA Getty Images)

On Thursday, the NBA revealed the second fan vote returns for this year's All-Star Game.

Once again, the leading vote-getters were Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and James Harden, followed by Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam.

Rounding out the top-10 were Trae Young and Kyrie Irving.


Based on those returns, which account for 50 percent of the total votes for the All-Star Game (the other 50 percent being made up by current players and a media panel), they would be the 10 starters if voting ended today.

It's hard to argue with most of those selections, but my ballot looks a little different.

Western Conference starters

Guard: Luka Doncic, James Harden

Frontcourt: Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Anthony Davis

This isn't complicated. Doncic, Harden, James and Davis are four of the five leading candidates for MVP so far this season, while Leonard is coming off one of the most dominant postseasons runs we've ever seen and is the main reason the LA Clippers have gone from being a good story in the Western Conference to legitimate contenders.

His efficiency is down slightly compared to last season, but Leonard's averages of 28.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per 36 minutes are the highest marks of his career. And even though he's missed some time due to load management, there's still a case to be made that he's the best player in the world, with his Christmas Day performance against the Los Angeles Lakers being one of the more recent examples of his all-around brilliance when he's firing on all cylinders.

In consideration: Paul George, Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic

George has missed a couple more games than Leonard and hasn't been as dominant as his All-NBA teammate when he has played. Lillard is having another terrific individual season, but Harden and Doncic have just been on another level. As impressive as he and the Denver Nuggets have been lately, Jokic got off to a slow start to the season, whereas Leonard, James and Davis hit the ground running.

Eastern Conference starters

Guard: Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal

Frontcourt: Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam, Giannis Antetokounmpo

This is where it gets interesting.

Antetokounmpo is a no-brainer. He's taken his game to another level this season and is widely considered to be the front-runner for MVP.

The two other spots in the frontcourt are more up for grabs. I have Butler and Siakam joining Antetokounmpo, with apologies to Embiid.

There are nights where Embiid looks like the most dominant player in the league, but both he and the Philadelphia 76ers have been a little too up-and-down for my liking. Butler and Siakam, meanwhile, have each been the driving force on teams that have exceeded expectations. Butler has been a perfect fit in Miami and Siakam has made the leap from being a No. 2 to a clear No. 1 in Toronto.

Siakam's injury could open the door for Embiid to start over him - he's been sidelined him since the middle of December and has no return date - but for now, Siakam gets my vote.

MORE: Siakam has become an entirely new player - again

Speaking of perfect fits, Walker has been everything the Boston Celtics could have wanted and more. Despite losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in the offseason, Boston has the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, with Walker being a huge reason why. His scoring is down, but he's still leading the Celtics with 22.0 points and 5.2 assists per game on 39.5 percent shooting from 3.

All things considered, Walker is an easy choice for one of the guard spots.

Who is most deserving of the other guard spot is a little trickier. It depends on what you value, as the likes of Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry are difference-makers on winning teams while Young and Beal are putting up monster numbers on losing teams.

Of the four, I side with Beal, who is averaging career-highs of 27.8 points and 6.6 assists per game. The Washington Wizards have won only 12 games - mostly because they can't defend anyone - but they have the eighth-best offensive rating in the league, ahead of teams like the Heat, Spurs and Trail Blazers.

Considering the talent that's around Beal and the amount of injuries the Wizards have dealt with, that's a remarkable feat.

In consideration: Joel Embiid, Trae Young, Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis

I've already touched on the case for Embiid, Young, Simmons and Lowry. As for Brogdon and Sabonis, the two of them have been at the forefront of Indiana's success without Victor Oladipo this season. Neither of them will probably get the votes needed to start, but at least one of them should be voted in as a reserve.

I didn't consider Irving because he's played in only 11 games this season. If the Brooklyn Nets do get an All-Star, it should be Spencer Dinwiddie. As Irving's replacement in the starting lineup, Dinwiddie is averaging 24.8 points and 6.9 assists per game. The Nets are 12-13 during that stretch, which has been good enough for them to move up to eighth in the Eastern Conference standings.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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