The Dallas Mavericks streak of having an All-Star game starter ended at two straight years on Jan. 27 as Luka Doncic did not garner a spot in the Western Conference backcourt. Stephen Curry was a no-brainer choice with Ja Morant joining him in the opening five.
Luka could still be an All-Star. The reserves are selected by the coaches and will be announced on Feb. 3. It is a deep field in the Western Conference backcourt with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Donovan Mitchell all deserving of selection. It will be interesting to see who the coaches choose next Thursday.
Luka was a starter in 2020 and 2021, and he deserved to again this year. Here is a look at why he was snubbed in the race to start and if he will earn the nod as a reserve next week.
Luka Doncic snubbed as 2022 All-Star starter: Will he be selected as reserve?
Morant is having an outstanding season and the Grizzlies are third in the Western Conference, but Luka has superior numbers. The Mavericks superstar averages more rebounds, assists, and 3-pointers made per game with Morant having slight edges in points and steals. Luka has been the superior defender and the more impactful playmaker.
Some will make the case that Doncic missed too much time to be considered to start, but he has played 34 games, which is just three fewer than Morant. Memphis played well without their point guard where the Mavs did not take off until Luka returned to the lineup. The Mavs are arguably the hottest team in the NBA right now with Doncic leading their charge.
The two have a nearly identical box score plus-minus and value over replacement player (VORP) numbers. Doncic’s impact on his team and slight statistical edge should have given him the advantage to start, but that is not all.
Yes, the Grizzlies are a surprising feel-good story, and Morant has been fantastic this season, but shouldn’t Luka’s three straight years of greatness factor into the decision on who starts? Doncic has made first-team All-NBA for two straight years. Morant is a deserving All-Star, but Luka is still the superior player that deserves the starting nod.
Luka will make his third straight All-Star team when the reserves are announced next week. Fans will then have the captain's draft to look forward to on Feb. 10 before All-Star weekend kicks off on Feb. 18. Luka Doncic has struggled in his first two All-Star games but expect him to put on a show in Cleveland, if he is selected, as the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The Smoking Cuban will have all the latest on Luka Doncic and his pursuit of a third straight All-Star appearance, so be sure to check back daily for all the latest.