Southeast Division All-Stars
The NBA All-Star game is set to hit Chicago on Sunday night, and ahead of the game, I take a look at what an All-Star team would look like if the roster was made up of players exclusively from the NBA's Southeast Division.
PG: Trae Young. Trae is set to become not only a first-time All-Star this year, but an All-Star starter at that! Without a doubt, he has been one of the best players in the league this season, averaging career-highs in points per game (29.3), field goal percentage (44.5%), three-point percentage (37%), free throw percentage (84.5%), as well as per-game high-marks in rebounds (4.6), assists (9), and steals (1.1). Young’s second season has seen him become one of the most spectacular offensive talents in the game; his Atlanta Hawks may have only won 14 of their 53 games this season, but that doesn't eclipse Ice Trae's dominant, night-in-night-out performances.
SG: Bradley Beal. Beal’s snub in this year's All-Star game is hands down one of the worst we have ever seen. The Wizards shooting guard has played more minutes than any other player in the Southeast, and truthfully, his numbers speak for themselves. In the absence of teammate John Wall, Washington has had to lean hard on Beal, and head coach Scott Brooks has needed the 26-year-old to literally put this team on his back. Beal has led the Eastern Conference in scoring since January 22, averaging 37.6 points per game; he has scored at least 25 points a game in nine straight games this season. From January 22nd to February 3rd, he had 30+ points in seven-straight games, marking the second-longest such streak in franchise history. He may have been snubbed for the main game, but Beal is certainly not missing out in this year’s Southeast All-Stars.
SF: Jimmy Butler. Since Jimmy's arrival in South Beach, the Miami Heat have emerged as an serious contender in the Eastern Conference, and its largely because Butler is actually enjoying his basketball environment for the first time in his NBA career. With his team sitting 4th in the East, there is no doubt that a playoff series is heading to Miami this season, and Butler has been instrumental in helping Eric Spoelstra’s team reach new heights. Butler is averaging 20.5 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, and 7.8 free-throws makes a game, all of which lead the Heat. Among his peers in the Southeast, Jimmy is third in scoring, tied for third in assists, first in per-game steals (1.8), and is tied for first in triple-doubles (3). There is no doubt that Jimmy is probably the most lethal all-around player in the Southeast, and for that reason, he is an automatic choice at the small forward spot.
PF: John Collins. He may have only featured in just 28 of the Hawks 53 games this season after he was suspended to start the season, but since his return, the 22 year-old is playing some of his best basketball. Averaging career-highs right across the board, Collins is establishing himself as one of the best power forwards in the league. His shooting has improved, and his ability to get it done on both ends of the court is supremely rare. Collins has scored at least 30 points four times this season while also recording 16 double-doubles. He has recorded four straight games of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 made field goals, which is the longest active streak in the league. If that doesn’t make him an All-Star, then nothing will.
C: Bam Adebayo. Adebayo, much like teammate Jimmy Butler, has been one of the biggest reasons why the Heat are building something special in Miami. Playing in his third season, Bam has undoubtedly justified Erik Spoelstra’s decision to trade away Hassan Whiteside and make him the first choice at the five-spot. Bam is averaging career-high per-game marks in points (16), rebounds (10.4), assists (4.9), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.2). His volume numbers have shot up, and so has his efficiency - a rare growth spurt for NBA youngsters. His athleticism is absolutely game-changing, and his skills range from catching alley-oops to shot blocking; his ability to find teammates with his court vision is uncanny. Adebayo deserves his All-Star status and also deserves his crown as the 2020 Southeast All-Stars starting center.