Pascal Siakam will not heading to Salt Lake City to participate in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.
In a shocking move that indicated perhaps NBA coaches don’t watch as much basketball as they should, Siakam was passed over as a reserve from the Eastern Conference. NBA coaches vote for the 14 reserves, and the selections were announced on Thursday night.
Siakam was voted in as a starter in the 2019-20 season, and hasn’t been back since. This season, he seemed like a lock: he’s averaging 24.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists; those are career highs in points and assists, and his scoring and rebounding numbers lead the Toronto Raptors. He’s also one of only five players in the NBA averaging more than 20 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per night — along with four other All-Stars: LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and GIannis Antetokounmpo.
Siakam remains an excellent defender and although his three-point shooting is still below-average, every other aspect of his offensive game has evolved and he’s a threat from multiple spots on the floor, shooting, spinning, posting up, or passing.
All of which is to say — despite the Raptors’ subpar record, Siakam deserves to be an All-Star, and the coaches got this one dead wrong.
Named as Eastern Conference reserves instead were Joel Embiid, Jaylen Brown, Bam Adebayo, Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, Tyrese Haliburton and Julius Randle. Clearly, the Raptors’ record is a factor here, but I don’t believe there’s any way you can suggest Randle or Holiday or Adebayo, or even DeRozan (love you DeMar) are having better individual seasons than Siakam.
All told, this season has been a waste for the Raptors and this just a drop in the bucket of awfulness Raps fans have withstood. And with the trade deadline coming and another 30 games to play, there are surely more indignities to come.
Out west, the reserves are Ja Morant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Damian Lillard, Jaren Jackson Jr., Domantas Sabonis, Lauri Markkanen and Paul George.
NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off Friday, February 17, with the celebrity game and the Rising Stars challenge, featuring Scottie Barnes. The dunk contest and three-point shootout go Saturday; the game itself is set for 8pm on Sunday. All-Star captains LeBron and Giannis will select their teams before tip-off, so we’ll learn then who’s playing with who; all we know for sure is that Siakam won’t be there. And that’s a shame.