The 2023 NBA All-Star Game starters were announced on Thursday with very few surprises. However, the inclusion of injured New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson would qualify as one.
Normal figures such as Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant should start once the game tips off in Salt Lake City on February 19. New Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell will make another return to his former stomping grounds as a starter, too.
Below, we rank the 2023 NBA All-Star Game starters from worst to first in what promises to be a list that draws some debate.
Related: Sportsnaut’s NBA power rankings
10. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
- Zion Williamson stats (2022-23): 26.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.6 APG, 61% shooting, 25.4 PER
It is somewhat surprising that Williamson got the starting nod out west given that he’s missed 20 games to injury and is currently sidelined to an hamstring ailment. What we do know is that the former No. 1 pick has been dynamic when on the court this season. He’s put up 30 or more points in 31% of his outings. That seems pretty darn good.
9. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
- LeBron James stats (2022-23): 29.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.5 APG, 51% shooting, 25.3 PER
Even at the advanced age of 38, James just continues to dominate. He could very well average a near triple-double once the 2022-23 campaign comes to a conclusion. Making his 18th NBA All-Star Game appearance, there’s very little reason to believe that King James didn’t deserve to start. He’s an absolute icon. He’s playing at a high level despite the Lakers’ overall struggles.
8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
- Stephen Curry stats (2022-23): 29.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 49% shooting, 42% 3-point, 24.5 PER
An argument could easily be made that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander earned the starting spot over Curry. But let’s be real here for a second. The reigning NBA All-Star Game MVP and iconic world-wide star will start pretty much until he calls it quits. It’s also not like Curry is in the midst of a down season. The four-time champion is averaging what would be the second-highest point total in his career while hitting on 42% of his shots from distance. Dude can still ball.
7. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Donovan Mitchell stats (2022-23): 28.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, 48% shooting, 40% 3-point, 23.2 PER
A former star with the Utah Jazz, Mitchell will make his return to Salt Lake City as an NBA All-Star Game starter. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given what this star guard is doing in his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has them with a 29-20 record through 49 games. The dude dropped an historic 71-point performance earlier in the season. Already a star earlier in his career, Mitchell has taken his game to the next level in Cleveland.
6. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
- Jayson Tatum stats (2022-23): 31.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 47% shooting, 35% 3-point, 24.5 PER
Absolutely dynamic. That’s the best way to describe Tatum as he’s named one of the NBA All-Star Game starters for the very first time. The former Duke standout is averaging an absolutely absurd 33.0 points and 9.1 rebounds on 47% shooting over his past 19 games. He has Boston looking very much like the title favorite and has morphed into one of the best all-around players in the game.
5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
- Kevin Durant stats (2022-23): 29.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.3 APG, 56% shooting, 38% 3-point, 26.5 PER
Despite being sidelined with a knee injury, KD has earned yet another starting appearance in the NBA All-Star Game — his 11th on record. Whether he actually suits up in Utah remains to be seen. But when the two-time NBA Finals MVP has been on the court, he’s proven to be electric. Put it this way. The Nets are 3-5 with Durant sidelined and 26-13 when he suits up. You can do the math from there.
4. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
- Kyrie Irving stats (2022-23): 26.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.2 APG, 49% shooting, 37% 3-point
From malcontent and the center of drama to starting in the NBA All-Star Game. Irving’s trajectory has changed big time after he was suspended to open the season. He’s also now likely going to be back in Brooklyn on a longer-term deal. For good reason. Over the course of his past four outings leading up to Thursday’s selection, Irving was averaging 36.5 points and 8.0 assists on 54% shooting. That seems pretty good.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- Giannis Antetokounmpo stats (2022-23): 31.0 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.3 APG, 53% shooting, 27.0 PER
What can we say about the Greek Freak that hasn’t already been said? The two-time NBA MVP is well on his way to challenging for that award a third time. He’s averaging what would be a career-high 31 points per game for a contending Bucks team. Giannis has also dropped 40 or more points in 22% of his outings this season. That’s just otherworldly stuff right there.
2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Nikola Jokic stats (2022-23): 25.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 9.9 APG, 63% shooting, 38% 3-point, 32.3 PER
This two-time reigning NBA MVP could very well be on his way to earning that for a third consecutive season. Hell, Jokic has put up a triple-double in each of his past four games. He could end up averaging a triple-double throughout the season, joining the likes of Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson in elite company. Jokic is on an entirely different planet than other bigs right now.
1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
- Luka Doncic stats (2022-23): 33.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.6 APG, 50% shooting, 35% 3-point, 29.9 PER
Already on his way to becoming an all-time great at the young age of 23, Doncic put up an historic 60-points, 20-rebound triple-double earlier this season. He’s averaging a league-high 33.8 points per game, has dropped 50 or more three times and continues to improve in nearly every category. Doncic will be an NBA All-Star Game starter every healthy season from here on out. Take that to the bank.