The complete list of players competing in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was released on Thursday and there were some surprises.
The Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic will make their first appearances in the game while Blake Griffin became an All-Star for the first time since 2014-15.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis were also obvious reserve selections.
But, as always, there were a few surprises while some notable players were left off the rosters.
Here are the biggest snubs and the surprises to make the 2019 NBA All-Star Game rosters.
D’Angelo Russell and Jimmy Butler
Russell has put the Brooklyn Nets in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15 and Butler has elevated the Philadelphia 76ers into championship contention.
Both of these players could have been in the game and one of them will probably end up there.
Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo was named a reserve on Thursday. However, he suffered a season-ending leg injury last week and will be unable to participate. Russell and Butler are the leading candidates to replace him.
Jimmy G. Buckets
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 30, 2019
The eight-year veteran is having his best season and is undoubtedly the Los Angeles Clippers’ go-to scorer.
He is averaging 21.2 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 43.3 per cent from three-point range in 2018-19. All of those are career highs.
Los Angeles have exceeded expectations this season and are fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Harris deserved an All-Star spot.
He’s made his case. @tobias31 belongs in the #NBAAllStar Game. pic.twitter.com/AGr9QeARE9
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 29, 2019
Doncic has had a fantastic season and many believed he would end up in the game.
The third-overall pick in the 2018 draft is top five among rookies in almost every statistical offensive category. He has registered 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
The Dallas Mavericks are just 23-27 but are much improved this season. Doncic is the main reason why.
Luka with the drive and jam! pic.twitter.com/fSFuN240vU
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 31, 2019
Middleton has certainly been good this season. He is averaging 17.3 points and 4.2 assists in 31.1 minutes per game while shooting 37.6 per cent from three-point range. The Milwaukee Bucks are also one of the best teams in the NBA and enter play on Thursday in first place of the Eastern Conference standings with a 36-13 record. They deserve to be rewarded for their success.
Middleton, however, is clearly Milwaukee’s secondary option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and he has also had better statistical seasons. He tallied 20.1 points per game in 2017-18 and has knocked down more than 40 per cent of his three-pointers three different times during his seven-year career.
While he is deserving of a spot, a case could definitely be made that Russell or Butler should be on the team over Middleton.
Congratulations @Khris22m on being selected as an @NBAAllStar!!#FearTheDeer | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/sHe77t1Gwq
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 1, 2019
Thompson is one of the best shooters of all time and a major reason for the Golden State Warriors’ success since 2014-15. But, he is not putting up his typical numbers from three-point range this season.
Thompson struggled to open the year and while he has rebounded, he is shooting 37.9 per cent from behind the arc, his worst percentage in his eight-year career. He has also connected on 46.2 per cent of his total shots, his worst field-goal percentage since 2013-14.
The 2019 game will be Thompson’s fifth All-Star appearance. He is averaging 21.7 points, but Harris or Doncic may have been more deserving of a selection this season.
The teams will be picked by captains LeBron James and Antetokounmpo on February 7.
The game will be played on February 17 in Charlotte.