In just about 9 weeks, on January 18, 2018, the 12 All-Star players from each conference will be announced on a nationally broadcast event. Will fans, coaches and media elect a Miami Heat player to be on that elite team?
After 12 games Hassan Whiteside’s Fantasy Point numbers give him a chance, provided people believe his maturity issues are behind him. Only 12 men are selected, but here are the top 15 Fantasy Point players in the Eastern Conference.
Player - Fantasy Points
Giannis Antetokounmpo 57
LeBron James 53
Kristaps Porzingis 46
John Wall 44
Ben Simmons 44
Andre Drummond 44
Joel Embiid 41
Hassan Whiteside 40
Bradley Beal 37
Victor Oladipo 37
Kyrie Irving 37
DeMar DeRozan 36
Kemba Walker 36
Kevin Love 36
Aaron Gordon 36
Fans get 50% of the vote, coaches 25% and media 25%. Who will finally wind up playing in Los Angeles ultimately depends as much on personality as on performance. Moodiness kicks anyone off an elite team. The mix of two squads will be radically different in 2018, because this time around the two captains pick their other 11 teammates, regardless of conference.
Selections usually only include starters, so Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow are the other likely South Beach possibilities. Dragic has a solid chance to join Whiteside on the team, because of his good numbers and excellent respect among NBA peers.
So far Waiters, Richardson and Winslow haven't elevated their games enough to be contenders, but enough time remains for them to get serious about putting aside games and focusing only on basketball. They're getting enough opportunities to score, but have a difficult time finishing off what they start, whether it's at the 3-point line or the rim.
Whiteside's main problem making the All-Star team is himself, since 100% of the voters are, i.e. fans, coaches and media. Statistics do not cast ballots. A huge part of their decision hinges on whether they view a player as always giving his team maximum effort to win a game. The 2nd half Hassan in Utah would be an All-Star. The disengaged one from the 2nd half in Oakland gets snubbed.
As we saw last season, winning plays a big part for All-Star consideration. Starting this afternoon in Detroit, the Heat face Eastern Conference rivals in 9 out of their next 10 games. These games have double value, since a win for Miami means giving an EC rival a loss. Winning 4 of the next 5 games would put the Heat in good place to start the season
How Whiteside handles Drummond may sway voters in determining which one is a legitimate All-Star. Next up Miami takes on Wall and Beal twice. After them comes Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers, followed by the Boston Celtics. Topping them would be achievements for both the players and the team.
The rest of November tests the emotional strength of the Heat players, who sometimes give the impression that giving 100% is enough to win games or become an All-Star. Surprising as it seems, players on other teams also give 100% effort, if not more. Winning comes from competing at a consistent level of 150% while on the court.
The rewards for always being engaged are happy Heat fans, a top-4 playoff seeding, and recognition from fellow players and coaches. No NBA All-Star wants a moody Whiteside on their team. They would rather have European MVP Goran as a teammate. Or will Dion finally finish at the rim for an LA appearance? Coach Erik Spoelstra made Richardson and Winslow starters. Do they realize they have to produce like playoff-caliber ones?