This was not unexpected given some of the informal polls circulated on podcasts and in written media over the past week or so, but it is still disappointing to see Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards excluded from the 2022-23 All-Star Game.
2022-23 NBA West All-Star reserves: Ja Morant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Damian Lillard, Jaren Jackson Jr., Domantas Sabonis, Lauri Markkanen, Paul George.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 3, 2023
As a reminder, the reserves are voted on by coaches around the league. They vote in two guards, three frontcourt players, and two “wild card” players. My best guess is that Jaren Jackson Jr. and Damian Lillard are the two “wild card” reserves who theoretically beat out Edwards for one of the final two spots on the team. It is worth acknowledging that Edwards could still make the team as an injury replacement, especially with Zion Williamson (hamstring strain) currently in the starting lineup.
With all of that said, and with all due respect to JJJ, I struggle to see the argument for Jackson Jr. over Edwards. Many have pointed to Ant’s availability as part of his All-Star case, so that is a fine starting point to compare the two players. Edwards has played in every game this year (54 games), while JJJ missed time to start the regular season and has appeared in 35 games.
Beyond that, Jackson Jr. has been limited by foul trouble in games he has played in, averaging just 27.0 minutes per game compared to Edwards 36.6. Ant leads the league in total minutes. Jackson has fouled less this year than in years past, but his 4.4 fouls per-36 minutes is still roughly a top-25 mark in the league. As an aside, when you sort for that statistic on basketball-reference.com, they automatically remove those without enough minutes to qualify. Jackson Jr. does not show up on the list as he does not meet the minutes requirement. Anthony Edwards has played 1977 minutes thus far, compared to 945 for JJJ. The Memphis Grizzlies big man is an outstanding player, but it is very difficult to make the case for him over Ant.
Devin Booker has played more minutes than Jaren Jackson Jr. this season.— Jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) February 3, 2023
That was a puzzling selection
Focusing only on Ant’s availability sells short what he has actually done in those minutes, though.
Edwards started the season slow for a variety of reasons, but has rebounded to put together an impressive complete season to this point. Minnesota has not met expectations as a team yet, but I believe that, if you told everyone before the season that Karl-Anthony Towns would not play in December or January, most everyone would take a 28-26 record and tied for fifth place in the Western Conference.
The raw numbers for Edwards are outstanding. He’s now up to 24.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game. He is making 52% of his two-point attempts and 37% of his three-pointers, giving him an eFG% of .535. Every single one of those numbers are a career-high. He walks into 25-5-5 every night now.
Ant has taken over this team since Towns’ injury, and has given Minnesota the best player on the floor nearly night. He has truly come into his own as both a player and as a leader. It is ridiculous to not have a player as good as the former Georgia Bulldog at the game. To me, it feels like he is being penalized for a perceived underwhelming start to the year for the team, regardless of the fact that they are currently tied for fifth in the conference.
I’m trying very hard not to go full small-market brain here, but this is a disappointing omission nonetheless. This, along with the commentary on Ant and the Wolves of late, has been a bit tiring considering how good and fun the team has been on the court. I could have lived with De’Aaron Fox being an All-Star over Ant. The Sacramento Kings are really good, AND Fox and Ant have had relatively similar seasons in terms of the quality of their play. That Fox and Edwards both missed the game was, frankly, shocking. Hopefully Edwards makes it as an injury replacement, I suppose.