*All stats are as of the morning of January 13, 2021
While the Hornets are only twelve games into the season, they currently sit in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. This means that there’s a solid chance that one of their players gets selected to the All-Star team, and the clear choice for that selection is newly signed forward Gordon Hayward.
Hayward has been having a phenomenal season with Charlotte, averaging 22.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.0 APG on roughly 50-40-93 shooting splits. Whenever you tune in to a Hornets game, he’s the one leading the teams on both ends of the floor, and his veteran presence is clearly something that has helped the Hornets win games thus far. Hayward’s playmaking and efficiency have also been crucial to the team’s success. With that being said, though, what are his chances at making an All-Star appearance this season?
So good you have to see it again... from a different angle @Gordonhayward | #AllFly pic.twitter.com/ORXN0ZBOZd— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 12, 2021
In order to fully understand Hayward’s chances at making a team, one must first look at those ahead of him in the running. There are certain players who are bound to get selected year-in and year-out, and then there are those who get filled into the rest of the slots. Team success has a lot to do with selection, too, so a lot of this is dependent on the Hornets’ ability to stay competitive. Based on the way the standings are right now, these are the teams who are most likely to have at least one player selected to the All-Star team: Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat. This is making the assumption that the Magic and Knicks will fall-off record-wise, but all of the teams mentioned also have bonafide stars on their rosters.
The All-Star team has twelve available spots, five of them being backcourt slots and five of them being front-court spots, and two of them being positionless spots. Those two positionless spots mean that Hayward is going to be competing with players of all positions if he’s not penciled in as an obvious choice for the team. With that in mind, here are the players who should be nearly guaranteed spots on the team (barring any injuries):
- G - Trae Young (ATL)
- G - Kyrie Irving (BKN)
- G - James Harden (BKN)
- F - Kevin Durant (BKN)
- F - Jayson Tatum (BOS)
- F - Domantas Sabonis (IND)
- C - Joel Embiid (PHI)
- C - Bam Adebayo (MIA)
Now there are plenty of other players who are very much deserving of a spot on the team, but these are the only eight that should be considered a bonafide lock to make the team. This leaves two more spots dedicated to guards, one more spot dedicated to a front-court player, and the two spots that can be given to any player. The guard spots will most likely be filled by a combination of two of this group of players - Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Collin Sexton, Ben Simmons - but that leaves the rest of them to compete with a large group of forwards for the last two spots on the team.
Gordon Hayward has undoubtedly been worth every bit of the $30 million the #Hornets are paying him this year.— Jack Duffy (@JackDuffySI) January 13, 2021
Teams form to the identity of their best player. Hayward’s game fits like a glove into Borrego’s rapid ball movement, unselfish, fast paced system (LaMelo too).
Now Hayward could be selected to that final spot devoted to a front-court player, but he does have a lot of competition. There are lots of other forwards in the Eastern Conference vying for that spot. Here’s a list of his top front-court competition and their stats for this season:
Jerami Grant (DET) - 25.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.9 APG
Khris Middleton (MIL) - 22.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.6 APG
Julius Randle (NYK) - 22.1 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 6.9 APG
Nikola Vucevic (ORL) - 22.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.5 APG
Tobias Harris (PHI) - 19.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.1 APG
Pascal Siakam (TOR) - 20.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 5.1 APG
It’s tough to say how many of these guys Hayward would make the team over. A lot of it could come down to which players are hot when the voting is occurring, and what teams’ records are looking like around that time as well. If Hayward keeps up this level of play, though, he’ll 100% be in the conversation.