With the 2023 NBA All Star rosters set, let’s celebrate the cream of the crop and what they did Thursday night.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers
- LeBron James has been an All Star for as long as some NBA rookies have been alive after being honored for the 19th consecutive season. You might have heard that King James is also closing in on a certain auspicious all-time record as well. But LeBron is pacing (pun intended) himself now, after coming under his season average of 30 points per game for the third time in his last four with 26 points in Indy on 11-of-19 shooting. It was just enough for the Lakers to complete a comeback they desperately needed. James added his patented seven boards and seven dimes, while also canning a pair of triples. On a night full of stars, it’s only fitting we start with the brightest of this generation.
- Tyrese Haliburton made his return to the court on the night he was selected to his very first All-Star team. The Pacers’ guard picked up right where he left off with 26 points and 12 assists, to go along with four treys and two steals. Haliburton looks to be a first-round fantasy fixture for the foreseeable future (say that five times fast) with numbers you dream up for your point guard. We’re talking 20 points, 10 assists, two steals, three triples, and gaudy percentages. Even in this era of inflated statistics, it’s enough to rank as the No. 8 overall player in standard 9-cat formats.
Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks
- Bam Adebayo will make a trip to the big game for a second time, after putting together the first 20-10 campaign of his career. Bam led the Heat on Thursday with 32 points on a super efficient 11-of-16 f rom the floor and 10-of-11 from the line, adding nine boards, three dimes, two steals, and a swat. Even though Adebayo’s scoring is at a career-high, the drop-off in assists and stocks from the back-to-back seasons he went 5/1/1 in those cats keeps him from being a top-20 fantasy asset.
- Julius Randle was also a second-time selection, getting the nod from the coaches. His final line from Thursday was indicative of his overall season, with heady totals but middling efficiency. Randle compiled 23 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and three steals, but offset it with 8-for-19 shooting and seven turnovers. He hasn’t been as stellar as his anomalous 2021 season, but he’s been a damn sight better than he was last year.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Memphis was rewarded with two All Stars this season, but only one suited up last night. That was Ja Morant, who recorded 24 points, eight boards, and eight dimes, while sinking all six of his foul shots. Morant has piled up the counting stats this season, achieving career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and triples, but efficiency has been his bugaboo—making overall fantasy rankings the only list you’ll find Ja behind D’Angelo Russell.
- The Cavs had two young first time All Stars in 2022, but their lone representative this time around will be Donovan Mitchell, being named in his first season in the Eastern Conference. Mitchell didn’t have a very starry night, scoring just six points and shooting 2-for-11 from the field before being ejected for getting in a scuffle. It marked the fifth time in his past six outings Mitchell (who’s also missed five games in that span) failed to reach the 20-point mark. But when you’ve got a 70-10 game on your recent resume, you can have a small funk like this without inciting any panic. Mitchell is still a top-20 guy ROS.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls
- Charlotte was the only team in action on Thursday not sending a representative to the midseason classic—not surprising for a squad that has been on the losing end of over 70 percent of their contests. Former All-Star LaMelo Ball also got the boot in this one, exiting early with 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals. The young guard is still a top-30 overall player despite barely cracking the 40 percent mark on a whopping 20 field goal attempts per game. his 3.9 3PTM ranks fourth in the entire league.
- DeMar DeRozan just keeps on trucking. The veteran wing was selected to his second straight All Star team, and his sixth overall. Even at age 33 he’s as smooth as ever, gliding his way to a seemingly effortless 26-5-5 nightly on 51 percent from the field and 89 percent from the line. Those numbers took a small hit on Thursday as DeRozan scored just 15 on 4-of-12 from the field, but made up for it with seven dimes, two treys and two rejections. In this day and age, it’s hard to believe a wing who doesn’t make threes can be a top-25 fantasy player, but DeRozan continues to buck the trend.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks
- New Orleans’ sole All-Star missed yet another game, as the Pels were suffered their 10th consecutive defeat. The silver lining for the Pelicans was that former All-Star Brandon Ingram had his best night by far since returning from a two month absence. The slender wing made half of his 20 shots to finish with 26 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Ingram has the ability to put up numbers similar to this if he can stay healthy, even when the Pelicans’ focal point returns to the fold.
- All-Star starter Luka Doncic needed just 23 minutes to tally 31 points, eight boards, four dimes, two treys, and two thefts. Luka is a usage monster who has added steals to his fantasy arsenal, locking him in as a top-10 fantasy performer. The bad news stemming from Thursday is Doncic had to hit the showers early in this one after hurting his heel on a hard fall. This comes on the heels (sorry) of him missing a couple games at the end of last week. Still, Luka should miss minimal time with this knock and will continue racking up the numbers for fantasy managers shortly.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets
- The other backcourt starter in the West is Stephen Curry, who was his usual efficient self in a loss to Denver. Curry made 10 of his 17 field goals, five of his 10 triple tries, and all three of his freebies to score 28 points, while also grabbing five rebounds and handing out five helpers. Curry is enjoying yet another prime season, with a 30-6-6 average line that includes five three a night and lofty percentages, good enough for a top-5 fantasy rank thus far.
- From one two-time MVP to another, Nikola Jokic dazzled again with his seventh triple-double over his past nine outings. This time it was a ho-hum 22-14-16 night on 9-of-13 shooting with a steal and a block to boot. Jokic is now averaging a trip-dub for the season while converting better than 63 percent of his field goal attempts, good enough to be the No.2 overall player in fantasy on averages. Expect nothing less the rest of the way.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Paul George was perhaps the least exciting All-Star announcement, and his game Thursday was an epitome of that. The veteran wing scored 16 points on 6-for-16 from the field and 2-for-6 from the stripe, with six boards and three swipes. George has gotten no buzz or fanfare at all this season, and his overall numbers are practically pedestrian compared to the world-beaters setting new records seemingly every night around him. Yet his complete package is still enough to earn a top-25 overall fantasy ranking and he should quietly stay in that range for the rest of the season.
- Shoutout to my guy Jrue Holiday for a long-awaited return ticket to the All Star game, but the night belonged to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Whereas Jokic is death by a thousand cuts, the Greek Freak is blunt force trauma and note left at the scene saying “Giannis was here” written in his opponents’ blood. Giannis went supernova on Thursday, making 21 of his 39 field goals to amass 54 points, while also hauling in 19 rebounds as he single-handedly brought Milwaukee back from a 20-point second half deficit. We all know the free-throw percentage (he was 10-for-15 last night) is an anchor to his overall fantasy value in 9-cat formats, but he’s if you’re fine punting free throws he rockets right back up to the top.