Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle in the mix for All-Star spots


SALT LAKE CITY — The Knicks could have two All-Stars. They could have zero.

It’s very much up in the air with fan voting starting in less than a week and debates already raging, most notably and recently at ESPN.

RJ Barrett advocated for two teammates.

“[Jalen Brunson] and [Julius Randle],” Barrett said. “Both of them. For sure.”

Despite Barrett’s enthusiasm, it’s unlikely the Knicks get two All-Stars voted into the Feb. 18 game in Indianapolis.

The East, at least as of now, has four guarantees (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum and Tyrese Haliburton) and four very likelies (Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard, Tyrese Maxey and Jimmy Butler).

That leaves Brunson and Randle fighting for the four remaining spots among Jaylen Brown, Scottie Barnes, Bam Adebayo, Trae Young, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Kristaps Porzingis and Mikal Bridges.

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the second half
Jalen Brunson is hunting for his first All-Star Game selection. Robert Sabo for NY Post

Things can — and probably will — change before the final votes are tallied and the coaches pick reserves, but Brunson seems the stronger candidate than Randle and was picked by ESPN for its “Too-Early All-Star Roster.”

The other picks in the East were Antetokounmpo, Embiid, Maxey, Barnes, Butler, Mitchell, Tatum, Young, Adebayo, Lillard and Haliburton.

It would be the first All-Star appearance for Brunson, who was snubbed last year for both the midseason game and the postseason awards.

Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) complains about a call during the second half
Julius Randle’s stats may not help the narrative surrounding him come All-Star selection time. Robert Sabo for NY Post

“It’s a goal of mine,” Brunson said Wednesday at the Delta Center, the site of last season’s All-Star Game. “But one thing I’ve always been consistent with, all the individual honors and stuff comes with team success.

“So I’m just focusing on ‘What can I do to win?’ ”

Asked if he was motivated by getting left out of last season’s All-Star game and the All-NBA teams, Brunson smiled and responded, “Maybe.”

Randle is a two-time All-Star and is again putting up gaudy stats after a rough start, but narrative matters with these choices. He struggled in the playoffs last season — while Brunson shined — which fed into the idea that the point guard was (and is) the Knicks’ top player.

Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Jazz, Brunson was averaging more points than Randle (24.6 to 22) with a better field-goal percentage (47 percent to 44 percent) while Randle had way more rebounds per game (9.6 to 3.5).

“[Brunson’s] solid every game. You know what he’s going to give you,” Barrett said. “So he’s definitely an All-Star caliber player. Hope to see him there.

“Obviously Julius has been there a couple times and what he’s doing — especially over the last couple of games — has been amazing.”

A first-time selection would undoubtedly be special to Brunson, but a third for Randle would be more financially significant.

According to Spotrac, Randle has a $1.38 million All-Star bonus for 2024. Randle, whose salary this season is $25.7 million, earned an extra $1.28 million for making the 2023 All-Star team.

Brunson, earning $26.3 million this season, has no All-Star bonuses in his deal.

Source link

You may also like

Leave a Comment