Making picks for the NBA All-Star Team is hard. But what if we were only picking from players who wear t-shirts under their jerseys?
The 2021-22 NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced Thursday night on TNT, and the reserves will be revealed on Thursday, Feb. 3. But here’s an important question: if there was an NBA All-Star team that featured only players who regularly wear a t-shirt under their jersey, who would be on the NBA T-Shirt All-Star Team?
This team will not be unveiled by TNT, so we went ahead and put together our own.
Eastern Conference T-Shirt All-Star Starters
1. Darius Garland — Cleveland Cavaliers
Among eligible players, there should be no doubt that Darius Garland would receive the most votes for the T-Shirt Player All-Star team. In fact, Garland is the one t-shirt player who has a great shot to make the actual All-Star team this year, getting to play at home in Cleveland where the All-Star game will be held on Sunday, Feb. 20.
Garland’s meteoric rise in his third year has coincided with the Cavs success, a grand lurch out of the Eastern Conference cellar where they dwelled for four years in the wake of LeBron’s departure for sunny LA. Some advanced metrics suggested he was the worst player in the league his rookie season, but now Garland is the lead ball-handler, facilitator and scorer for the Eastern Conference’s most surprising team.
2. Seth Curry – Philadelphia 76ers
The best shooter to ever don a tee under his jersey is Seth Curry. He’s also one of the best “regular” shooters of all time based on 3-point percentage, at a pristine 44 percent for his career. It’s crazy to think that the other Curry used to be on the fringes of the league, a DEEP bench guy, and now he is a VIP for an Eastern Conference contender. And it’s still amazing that Daryl Morey stole him from the Mavericks for Josh Richardson!
3. Lonzo Ball – Chicago Bulls
Although he would not be able to suit up in the first-ever T-Shirt Player All-Star game due to recent arthroscopic knee surgery, Lonzo Ball has earned a starting spot. Ball has been a perfect fit alongside Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and the rest of the Bulls who have over-exceeded all expectations thus far despite now being riddled with injuries. Ball has been a knock-down shooter (42.3 percent on 7.4 3-point attempts per game!), a stout wing-defender and a charging Bull in transition for Chicago.
4. Franz Wagner – Orlando Magic
The lone rookie to make the first annual T-Shirt All-Star team, Franz Wagner has also put himself in the actual Rookie of the Year conversation. Wagner even briefly held the top spot in NBA.com’s rookie of the year ladder while Evan Mobley was sidelined. If availability is the best ability, then Franz Wagner is amongst the best of them – he’s currently one of a small handful of players in the NBA to play in every game so far this season.
5. Bobby Portis — Milwaukee Bucks
The crazy-eyed People’s Champ has been an enormous contributor this season for the defending champion Bucks, who have been without Brook Lopez (back surgery) for essentially the entire season. Sure, Portis will show up on Shaqtin’ a Fool for blowing a wide-open breakaway dunk, but he can also be seen drilling 3s and shimmying the night away with Giannis. The People’s Champ, indeed.
Eastern Conference T-Shirt All-Star Reserves
[Note: There are only two reserves due to a limited number of t-shirt players.]
R1. Cole Anthony – Orlando Magic
The heart and soul of the Magic, it’s difficult not to root for Cole Anthony if only to be treated to more legendary immediate on-court post-game interviews. (Shoutout Mo BAMBA!!) Anthony’s shooting percentages aren’t particularly good, but 18 points per game in his second year in the league is solid, and he can sure catch fire in the clutch.
R2. P.J. Tucker — Miami Heat
During a meaningless preseason game back at the beginning of October, some wondered why P.J. Tucker was playing so ridiculously hard like he was still in the NBA Finals. The answer? P.J. Tucker has one setting and one setting only.