With almost a quarter of the NBA season in the books, we've got just enough of a sample size to make way too early All-Star game predictions. When it comes to the Celtics' guys, the question isn't whether or not one of them will make the game, but rather, how many of them will. Since the "Big 3" era, the Celtics have only had two players make the All-Star game in the same year once -- in 2017-2018 when Kyrie Irving and Al Horford both made it. This year, its starting to look like they'll have at least two players making the trip to Chicago that weekend, and the only question is which two it will be, and whether or not they can get a 3rd or 4th guy there as well.
For starters, it should be noted that it's extremely rare for 4 players on the same team to all make the All-Star team given that each conference only has 12 selections. Since 2000, that feat has only been accomplished by 5 teams -- The Warriors in 2017 and 2018, the Hawks in 2015, the Celtics in 2011, and the Pistons in 2006. Each of those teams won at least 56 games on the season and finished 1st in the conference. This year's Celtics team hasn't yet gotten the chance to showcase it's ceiling when fully healthy, but it's fair to say that they probably aren't the same caliber of team as those previously mentioned teams.
Still, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibilities that the Celtics get 4 players into the game when you look at how their guys stack up league-wide and more specifically against other Eastern Conference players.
The only non-Celtics on that list from the Eastern conference are Giannis, Siakam, Embiid and Sabonis -- the first three of whom are essentially All-Star locks. If you lower the qualifications to players from the Eastern conference that are averaging at least 15 points and 5 rebounds while shooting above league average from three, the list becomes just 9 players, 3 of whom are Tatum, Brown and Hayward. The other 6 players that meet those qualifications are Siakam, Morris Sr, Middleton, Love, Collins and LeVert. Of those 6, Siakam is a lock and Middleton will probably make his second straight All-Star team; but Marcus Morris and Kevin Love probably aren't making the team while putting up empty stats for bottom-feeders, and John Collins and Caris LeVert face the same "games played" issue that could prevent Hayward from making the game.
If Hayward ends up coming back in time for the Celtics' Christmas day matchup with Toronto, he'll have the opportunity to play about 15 or so games before fan voting concludes for the All-Star Game. That would put him at a total of only 23 games played on the season. If I was to guess, that's probably not enough for him to earn the necessary votes from the media and players to make the team even though his stats will likely more than qualify him for a spot. If Hayward fails to play enough games to make the team, that makes it even more likely that both Tatum and Brown earn spots on the roster.
Another thing going in Tatum and Brown's favor -- and Kemba's as well -- is fan voting. One of the benefits of playing for a team with as passionate and large of a fanbase as the Celtics' is that when it comes time to vote on All-Star teams, the fans come out in bunches. Last season, Kyrie Irving won the fan vote in the Eastern Conference backcourt by nearly tripling the votes of the next highest vote getter, Kemba Walker. Kyrie received nearly 3.9 million votes to Kemba's nearly 1.4 million. Kyrie also received enough fan votes to just barely edge out Steph Curry for the most votes among all backcourt players in both conferences, and fell only 500,000 votes short of defeating Giannis to become one of the game's two captains. Kyrie wasn't the only Celtic who felt the support of "Celtics Nation" as Jayson Tatum received the 4th most votes among Eastern Conference front-court players despite the fact that the general perception of him last year was that he was regressing or failing to take a leap. Additionally, even Gordon Hayward finished in the top 10 of fan voting last year among Eastern Conference front-court players despite struggling mightily all season long. If anything prevent's these Celtics from making the game, it's going to have to be the voting from the players and media, because there's no doubt that the Celtics main 4 guys will all receive a significant push from the fan vote.
If you look at the players in the Eastern Conference, sorted by descending points, how many Celtics are you taking for your All-Star team?
If I was picking the team right now, my selections would be as follows:
Backcourt Starters: Kyrie Irving + Bradley Beal
Backcourt Reserves: Trae Young, Kemba Walker, Malcolm Brogdon
Frontcourt Starters: Pascal Siakam + Giannis Antetokounmpo + Joel Embiid
Frontcourt Reserves: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jimmy Butler, Domantas Sabonis
Of those selections, the only ones that I don't really feel confident in are the two Pacers players -- Brogdon and Sabonis. I would strongly consider putting both Lowry and Hayward on the team but I'm not too confident that the players and media members will look past their limited games played when voting. At the end of the day though, there seems like a pretty clear and feasible path for the Celtics to have at least 3 players in the All-Star game for the first time since the 2010-2011 season -- a true symbol of how much this year's roster is embracing team basketball.
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