Voting for NBA All-Star Weekend has begun and for the first time in a long time, the Nets have quite a few pieces who are worthy of consideration for a number of events.
Their last All-Star was Joe Johnson in 2014 and the only player to attend (and win) an event over the last two seasons was Spencer Dinwiddie who won last year’s Skills Competition. This year, they should have three locks for invites to the skills competitions and – the Rising Star Challenge where Team USA takes on Team World, featuring rookies and sophomores.
Here’s who should get invites:
Jarrett Allen – Team USA
Jarrett Allen has not only asserted himself as one of the cornerstones for Brooklyn’s future, but a crucial piece in their current mission: the playoffs. Allen, 20, is playing in his second season after an impressive rookie season and is averaging 11.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. The 8.2 rebounds are good for third among rookies and sophomores.
The ever-so-humble Allen isn’t sure if he’ll get the votes, but he’d be more than happy to partake in the events come the February 15-17 weekend.
“If I get invited to it, yeah I’d definitely love to be a part of it,” he told NetsDaily. “It would be a big honor.”
He admits that it wasn’t something that was exactly circled on his calendar, but explained how a couple fans on Twitter opened his eyes to the idea.
“It wasn’t necessarily in my set of goals, it wasn’t even something I really even thought of until somebody mentioned it on my Twitter. I just wanted to play out the year the best I could, and I guess I might be falling into it.”
Indeed. Allen may not be the most outspoken player, but he’s becoming a popular figure around the league, known for his barrage of blocks on superstar players.
✅ LeBron— RotoQL (@rotoqlapp) January 3, 2019
✅ Greek Freak
✅ Blake Griffin
✅ Anthony Davis
Jarrett Allen has an impressive resume of blocks on NBA superstars ️ pic.twitter.com/PD8vCP6ekI
Rodions Kurucs – Team World
Rodi, Rodi, Rodi got me stargazin’.
What a story. Kurucs was taken with the 40th pick in the second round in the 2018 NBA Draft. To most fans, the 6’10” Latvian was somewhat of an afterthought to the team’s other international, first round pick, Dzanan Musa. Most thought Kurucs was too raw, too thin and would spend time in the G League during his rookie year. Instead, he’s become an integral part of Brooklyn’s run at the playoffs.
He’s averaging 8.6 points and 3.7 rebounds -- 16 points and seven rebounds per 36. While the numbers don’t necessarily jump off page, they’re best among second rounders. He has shown why he’s so important to Brooklyn’s run. They’re 9-3 since they inserted him into the starting lineup, 11-3 since his last DNP-CD.
He’s shown that he’s valuable in several areas, particularly as a stretch-4 who can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. His length and speed make him one of the most interesting players on the Nets and perhaps one of the most intriguing rookies of this class.
Nobody thought he would even be part of the conversation, but some might call him a lock to make it. After all, other than Luka Doncic, he’s the best international rookie this season.
“For sure, if I get the offer, I would play in it,” Kurucs told NetsDaily. “It’s not my priority to get there, you know I’m really just trying to get better every day and help the team. That’s my main priority because we want to get to the playoffs and I just want to stay ready for that.”
Clearly, maturity isn’t an issue. He even SPEAKS like a Brooklyn Net. The professionalism, understanding where his priorities lie. All that. His honesty is an added bonus. While he told me that it would be an “honor” to be a part of All-Star weekend, it was never something he came in and needed to do. Past experiences in Latvia hurt that.
“To be honest, I never really liked All-Star games. I don’t know why, I just never watched it unless it was the Dunk contest. You know, in Latvia I also had some bad memories with the All-Star game because of injuries and things like that. Guys play very hard in All-Star games there.”
“If they have enough people to vote me there, I’ll be more than happy to be there. It’s a nice feeling.”
Joe Harris – Three-point competition
This one should be a given. Harris’ story has become one of the better underdog stories around the league, and it’s time he gets his due in the national spotlight. After scooping him out of Cleveland where he played mostly with the Canton Charge, he’s evolved into one of the poster boys for Kenny Atkinson’s developmental team.
Harris is currently shooting 49.2 percent from three in 36 games – second in the NBA behind Seth Curry (not Steph!). He’s hitting more than two per game, while contributing in other ways like driving to the rim, slashing and playing solid defense. In his first year with the team, Atkinson called him their version of Kyle Korver. He might be even more.
This should be a no-brainer for the league.
Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell aka “The two-headed snake” are both having solid seasons with career-high’s in both points per game and assists. While both are probably going to fall short of the All-Star game, both possess the skillset to play in the Skills Challenge. Dinwiddie won it last year, so by default he should get the invite.
Russell is an intriguing case. He’s averaging 6.3 assists per game and as you watch him more, you see that he has the potential to be one of the game’s most elite passers. It would be fun to watch the 22-year-old in the bright lights in Charlotte.
Maybe French World Cup star Antoine Griezmann’s endorsement will help. After all, he does have 5.4 million followers!
Je vote pour @Dloading, @JoelEmbiid, @kawhileonard, @Giannis_An34 et @KyrieIrving à l'Est et pour @drose, @JHarden13, @KingJames, @luka7doncic et #Jokic à l'Ouest pour les #NBAAllStar Game 2019. Et vous ? Je compte sur vous pour faire pareil https://t.co/9FRJoseWwL pic.twitter.com/RG0zKwrF3i— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) January 3, 2019
So no obvious All-Stars but that’s OK in Brooklyn’s eyes. Instead of having one or two dominant players, they’ve been winning games off balance attacks. And for a team with an average age of 25-years-old, the more guys involved the better.
Slowly but surely, the Brooklyn Nets are going to get more and more respect in the national spotlight and what better way to show off a few of their pieces than at All-Star Weekend?