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By Patrick Whalen
So Celtics Fans we’re just past the half way point of the season and I know it has not gone as most of us thought but instead of talking about the under performing first half lets talk about one of the more exciting events coming up in the NBA, All Star Weekend. Yes in just under 4 weeks the All Star weekend festivities will begin down in the great city of Charlotte, North Carolina from February 15-17. Of course many of the players on the Celtics roster have been getting fans votes all season long to send them to Charlotte. The first two rounds of vote resluts have laready come back and the Celtics currently have 3 players in the top 10 for the frontcourt and 1 for the backcourt.
Right now Jayson Tatum sits 5th in the frontcourt with 599,289 votes, hes followed by teammate Gordon Hayward who is in 8th with 237,813 votes, bringing up the rear is Al Horford in 10th place with 199,474 votes. Of course on the other side Kyrie leads the backcourt voting with 2,381,901 votes.
The only selection that shocked me was seeing Gordon Hayward make the top 10 nevermind being higher than Al Horford. Gordon has had some All Star like games as of late and has become more consistent as the season progressed but in my opinion is not an All Star this season. Hes averaging only 11 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 3.6 apg and has only started 16 games this year. Those kind of stats may be good enough to get him a sixth man of the year conversation but esspecially with a roster as loaded as the Celtics is he is not an All Star, at least this year. Another surprise was not even seeing Marcus Morris make the top ten as hes been probably one of the most consitent performers for the Celtics this season. But with four weeks left we’ve still got time to get all our favorite Celtics to Charlotte. So I’ll be breaking down who I believe from the Celtics should be an All Star this season.
Obviously as seen by the vote returns Kyrie is a no doubt All Star and a starter for this years game and the numbers support it. Kyrie is averaging 23.4 points a game while shooting a career high 49.9% from the floor. Kyrie is also showing great growth in his overall game and play making ability as he is averaging career highs in rebounds per game (4.8) and assists per game (6.8) as he has been showing off all season that hes more than just a scorer. Despite Kyrie’s scoring being down a tick from last year he has still put up eight games of over 30 points this year including two 40 point performances against division rivals Toronto and Philly. This season thought Kyrie has defintely made an emphasise to improve his passing and getting his teammates involved. He has had nine games of 10+ assists including his season high of 18 against the raptors just this past week. Honestly Kyrie if he is healthy is an automatic All Star for probably the next 8 years and hopefully all those in a Celtics uniform. But before we move onto the next Celtics case enjoy Kyrie’s highlights from last years All Star game.
An All Star last season, Al Horford finds himslef right back in the conversation as he is back inside the top 10 for the eastern conferences frontcourt. Horford’s resume was hurt earlier this season as he was out for 9 games in December with knee tendonitis and then proceeded to be on a minutes restriction of 25 minutes for the next 10 games. But despite the injuries Horford is still having a productive season. He is averaging 12.1 points a night with 6 rebounds and just under 4 assists. Horford is also shooting 51.2% from the floor this year while taking just under 10 shots a night. Plus Horford has the range that most big men don’t as he is shooting 36.7% from three point territory this season. Of course his production has declined slightly this year with Kyrie and Hayward back and the emergence of Morris and Tatum this season but Horford is still a solid productive player in his 12th NBA season. I would love to see Al make it this year but I think he is just too far behind to make up ground on the top 6 as he currently just over 300,000 votes behind Blake Griffin for that sixth and final frontcourt spot. But that doesn’t mean we can watch some Al 2018 post season highlights to get us ready for this years run.
The second year man out of Duke showed off his star potential last year during the playoffs and he has improved on his number from last season. His scoring, rebounding, and assist averages all have increased in year two for Tatum. His ppg has gone from 13.9 to 16.3, his rpg from 5 to 6.3 and his apg from 1.6 to 1.8. This season Tatum has also set new career highs in points (34) rebounds (14) and field goals made (12). Along with his 34 point game Tatum has 15 games this season of 20+ points. But more impressive than that is that he has started all 45 games for the Celtics this season and has had just 7 games where he did not reach double figures, sophomore slump I don’t think so. He’s also had 5+ rebounds in 32 games including double digits in 6 of them. 5 of those 6 double digit rebounding games also turned into double doubles for Tatum while he had just 4 all last season. I knew after last years playoff performance and all the hype coming into year tow Tatum would get some votes regardless but I will admit I did not see him being fourth in the frontcourt in the east with almost 600,000 votes by the second vote return. But this young stud deserves it as he is a star in the making and will be in many moe of these games for the rest of his career. I don’t see him moving up the rankings anymore as he trails Embiid by 1.1 million votes but lets all to our part to keep him in that fourth spot. But speaking of Embiid lets flash it back to the Celtics Sixers Christmas day matchup and watch Jayson Tatum get his third double double of the season and help the Celtics take down The Process.
Like I said earlier I was very surprised seeing Hayward inside the top 10 for the frontcourt. Hayward has been working his way back from last years devestating leg injury but still isn’t all the way back. Much like Paul George it may take Hayward a year to get back and a adjust before getting back to what he was before the injury. You can tell he isn’t back quite just yet as he is averageing 11 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 3.6 apg. Between his inconsistent year coming off the injury and being relenquished to the bench for most of the season Gordon’s numbers has taken a hit as they are the worst numbers hes had since his second and third years in Utah. Hayward has picked up his play as off late as he has started to string some of these great performances together instead of doing it once every like 8 games. In his last ten games Hayward has scored double digits in 6 of those 10 games while averaging 12.6 ppg over that span. Hayward also got his first double double of the season and as a Celtic in that span. If Gordon can keep building on these performances and get his consitentcy back up for playoffs he could be a key to a deep Celtics post season run. But just like Horford I think Hayward is just too far back of that sixth spot as he is about 260,000 votes behind Blake Griffin. but lets keep voting for him so he can beat out Vince Carter for the seventh spot and so he can finish ahead of Siakam. I mean who doesn’t love seeing pissed off Toronto fans. Before we take a look at my final Celtic case lets look back on Hayward’s best game as a Celtic when he dropped 35 points on the Timberwolves.
Marcus Morris Sr
Now this one was the real surprise for me. I thought Morris would probably where Hayward is, in the top 10 but probably too far behind to get in, but to not see him at all shocked me. Morris has arguably been the Celtics most consitent player behind Kyrie. He is having a career year for himself as he is currently setting new career highs in ppg (14.8) and rpg (6.1). He also is having his best year shooting of his career as he has new career highs by shooting 48.1% from the floor, 43.5% from three point range, and 86.9% from the foul line. Despite starting on the bench for his first 17 games of the season Morris has still scored in double digits in 31 of the 42 games he has played in with 9 of those being over 20 points. He’s also had 30 of his 42 games with at least 5 rebounds. He has had 10+ rebounds 3 times and all 3 turned out to be a double double for Morris. He has been in a recent slump scoring just 30 points over his last 4 games but he is still third on the Celtics in scoring this year. Its a shame for Morris, who is having a career season in his 9th NBA season, to not even be inside the top 10 for the All Star game. I say as Celtics fans we set the goal to at least get him into the top 10 by the final vote release. He may not make it this year but Marcus Morris will still be an All Star to me, so lets throw it back to Morris’ best scoring performance this season against the Pelicans.
And of course we still have 4 weeks left to vote so mabye we can get all 5 of these guys to the All Star game, who knows? But you all must do you part and hit the link below and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!