Every All-Star roster unveiling is going to leave certain fan bases feeling miffed. Just ask the Charlotte Hornets fans who were expecting to see either LaMelo Ball or Miles Bridges in Cleveland on Feb. 20.
Ball and Bridges were two of the notable snubs left off of a loaded Eastern Conference roster. Both players are having career-best seasons, elevating the Hornets into the playoff conversation for the first time in six years. However, if nothing else, the two budding superstars can now use their omission as fuel for a big second half in the Queen City.
Neither LaMelo Ball nor Miles Bridges made the All-Star team
One week after revealing the 10 starters, the All-Star reserves were unveiled Thursday night on Inside the NBA.
Starting with the Western Conference, Chris Paul and Devin Booker both made it in as representatives of the league-best Phoenix Suns. The Utah Jazz also had a pair of players in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Finally, the West was filled out with Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who will miss the game due to injury.
The Eastern Conference is where things get interesting. The seven reserves representing the East are Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.
There are a number of omissions out East, including but not limited to Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis, Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, and Miami Heat sixth man Tyler Herro. Though the absence of both LaMelo and Bridges is concerning.
Ball, who’s fresh off of a career-high 38 points, is averaging 19.9 points, 7.7 assists, and 7.2 rebounds … at 20 years old. His playmaking ability makes him one of the most entertaining players to watch on a nightly basis.
If there’s a player who can match LaMelo on the entertainment scale, it’s Bridges. The oop to Ball’s alleys, the 23-year-old is also averaging a career-high 19.9 points. Few players in the league have Bridges’ athleticism, making him the perfect complement to Ball and a worthy All-Star selection.
Both LaMelo and Bridges should use this snub as motivation
Rarely is there a positive to being left out of the All-Star Game. Especially for two deserving players like Ball and Bridges. Though if there is a silver lining, the Hornets stars should be motivated to prove the voters wrong.
LaMelo and Miles have become one of the best duos in the league. And their chemistry is evident in the standings. At 28-24, the Hornets are firmly in the mix for a playoff spot, trailing the one-seed Bulls by just five games. However, consider the teams that have multiple All-Stars:
- Phoenix Suns (Paul and Booker): 41-9
- Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Green): 39-13
- Utah Jazz (Mitchell and Gobert): 31-21
- Chicago Bulls (DeMar DeRozan and LaVine): 32-18
- Milwaukee Bucks (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Middleton): 32-21
- Brooklyn Nets (Kevin Durant and Harden): 29-22
Those are six teams with bonafide championship expectations. While the Hornets aren’t far off from a team like Brooklyn in the standings, they still have a way to go before fans in Charlotte expect the team to raise a banner.
That said, Ball and Bridges will have an entire second half to get Charlotte up to that point. Sure, it would have been nice to see both of them (or at least one of them) in the All-Star Game. But their All-Star resumes for years moving forward can be aided by turning the Hornets into a contender now.
There will be All-Star appearances in Ball and Bridges’ futures
Considering Charlotte is having its best season in six years, it would have been nice to see the franchise get some recognition at the All-Star Game. But its time should come sooner rather than later, especially for the reigning Rookie of the Year Ball, who at the very least will take part in the Rising Stars Challenge.
LaMelo’s overall numbers are right in line with many of the All-Stars selected ahead of him. But soon, the youngest Ball brother will be putting up stats that are so gaudy, he’ll be in the conversation to start an All-Star Game.
As for Bridges, few expected the fourth-year forward to ascend the way he did. But clearly, playing with Ball has helped transform him from a forward with raw potential to the real deal. Assuming his new deal this summer is with Charlotte, you can expect him to continue his rise to certified All-Star.
Ball and Bridges can look at this year’s All-Star team and be ticked off for about 30 seconds. But immediately after, they should focus on lifting the Hornets franchise to new heights.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.