2022-23 Bench Mob All-Stars (2/16/23)

The 2023 NBA All-Star participants have been announced, meaning all the biggest names in the game are dominating both the headlines and social media discussion. Today, I’m here to turn the spotlight on guys who, while they won’t be playing in Salt Lake City, are All-Stars in their roles. 

If you’ve been following the Bench Mob Blog, you know I prefer to show love to under-the-radar players over their more popular peers. For the past two seasons, I’ve handed out a Bench Mob Player of the Day award to a hooper who stood out in a supporting role the previous night. More than twenty players have already won that title multiple times this year, and for the second time, I’ve chosen a dozen to represent the Bench Mob on an All-Star team.

This squad is compiled of guys ranging from middle-of-the-rotation contributors to end-of-the-bench ballers. Whether they play thirty minutes in a game or three, they bring it every time they’re on the court and step up whenever their name is called. 

It’s time to meet the 2022-23 Bench Mob All-Stars.

Isaiah Joe (Captain, 6x BM POTD)

Leading the roster is Oklahoma City Thunder wing, Isaiah Joe. The third-year man was cut by Philadelphia in the off-season after receiving limited minutes and scooped up by OKC, where he’s found a home. He’s an absolute gunslinger from beyond the arc and has fit next to All-Star and elite creator Shai Gilgeous-Alexander perfectly because of it. Ball-knowers across the league were clamoring for him to appear in the three-point contest, and while that ended up being a pipe dream, he’s getting his flowers here. 76ers GM Daryl Morey undoubtedly regrets letting Joe go. 

(P.S. check out this article I wrote on him over at LG Hoops

Yuta Watanabe (6x BM POTD)

Before Kyrie Irving requested a trade out of the blue, the Nets were playing arguably their best basketball of the Durant era and were firmly in championship contention. Their superstar duo predictably assumed most of the credit, but Brooklyn has one of the deepest benches in the association doing the dirty work it takes to win. A key member of that crew is Yuta Watanabe. Just like Isaiah Joe, Yuta is shooting the ball excellently and was leading the league in three-point percentage for a large chunk of the year. He’s also endlessly active and flies everywhere on the court to snag rebounds or block shots. His numbers don’t do justice to how much he does to impact success. 

Josh Green (6x BM POTD)

The Mavericks have a gaping hole to fill at the defensive point of attack with Dorian Finney-Smith on his way to Brooklyn and young wing Josh Green is ready to fill it. He’s a jump-outta-the-gym athlete who is quick laterally and boasts a near seven-foot wingspan which he uses to collect oodles of steals. On the other end, he’s a low-volume, high-efficiency scorer who gets easy looks by cutting hard, sprinting the floor in transition, and knocking down threes. He’s also a sneaky good connective passer. Dallas is gunning for a ring and Green’s two-way play will make him a crucial piece for them in the postseason. 

Jose Alvarado (5x BM POTD)

Zion Williamson. Brandon Ingram. C.J. McCollum. Jonas Valanciunas. Trey Murphy. The list of talent on the Pelicans feels virtually endless and that’s caused 2022 All-Bench-Mob First-Teamer Jose Alvarado’s season to fall through the cracks. The second he checks into a game the energy on the court shifts. He’s a pace-pusher and walking paint touch who never fails to bring the juice. He’s also a nagging pest defensively who loves to get under opposing ball handlers’ skin. Jose has become one of the league’s top backup point guards while playing just over twenty minutes per contest and is well on his way to earning a second All-Bench-Mob honor. 

Jalen McDaniels (4x BM POTD)

Injuries, inconsistency, and lack of direction have turned the Hornets into NBA purgatory this season. A diamond in the rough has been the lesser-known McDaniels brother, Jalen. The 25-year-old is big, skilled, and versatile on both sides of the ball. He stretches the floor and is switchable on defense, making him a textbook modern four-man. He will now get a chance to aid a contender and bring attention to his name in the postseason after being traded to the 76ers at the deadline

Jordan Goodwin (4x BM POTD)

With Delon Wright out for significant time with a hamstring injury and Bradley Beal in and out of the lineup, Washington was in desperate need of guard minutes, and Jordan Goodwin, who is on a two-way contract, answered the call. He picked his man up at 94 feet all night, picked countless pockets, and rarely turned the ball over while making a convincing case to remain in the rotation even with the team at max strength. The buyout of Will Barton suggests a well-deserved contract conversion is coming soon for Goodwin, which would allow him to join the Wizards full-time in their playoff push. 

Josh Okogie (4x BM POTD)

The mind-boggling blockbuster trade that brought the Slim Reaper to the Valley means it’s now championship or bust for the Suns, and in order to reach their lofty aspirations they’ll need help from their human Energizer Bunny, Josh Okogie. Okogie is a springy defensive spark plug with a non-stop motor. He swats shots, crashes the glass, and simply gives 110% every second he’s on the hardwood. Coach Monty Williams is going to have a tough time leaving him on the pine in the big dance. 

Jaylen Nowell (5x BM POTD)

One word can be used to illustrate Jaylen Nowell: bucket. He’s a crafty creator who gets it done from all three levels. He doesn’t provide much else and has dud performances if his shot’s not falling, but when he’s feeling it he can score like a star. He changes games off the bench with his basket-getting and he’s now a two-time Bench Mob All-Star, the only player to accomplish that feat. 

Ty Jerome (3x BM POTD)

Golden State’s roster features the best two-way contract pair in the NBA, and representing them here is Ty Jerome. Jerome has been a winner since college (where he won a national championship with Virginia) because he’s incredibly efficient with the ball. He’s shooting 50/40/90 splits and averages 2.9 assists to just 0.6 turnovers for the Dubs this year. Just like Jordan Goodwin, he’ll likely ink a full deal soon so he can participate in the postseason as a key reserve for Steve Kerr. 

Edmond Sumner (3x BM POTD)

Injury caused Edmond Sumner to miss the entire 2021-22 season, but he didn’t skip a beat and has returned better than ever. He’s fast as lightning slashing to the rim and finishes with finesse when he gets there. He’s also a 90% free-throw shooter and a serviceable defender. Whenever KD and Kyrie were out (before the trades), Sumner always stepped up. He dropped 20+ points in four outings without the stars and has earned a spot on this team.  

A.J. Green (3x BM POTD)

An undrafted free agent out of Northern Iowa, A.J. Green (not to be confused with the NFL wide receiver) got a chance in the pros with the Bucks after the draft. He shot the skin off the pill in Summer League, securing his spot on the roster, and that translated to the real deal. There was a long stretch of games where Milwaukee couldn’t hit an outside jumper which caused Coach Bud to call Green’s number. Green got hot and helped turn things around, connecting on treys off the catch and on the move, and is now the only rookie on the Bench Mob All-Star team. 

Haywood Highsmith (2x BM POTD)

Rounding out this squad is Heat forward Haywood Highsmith. Highsmith played Division 2 college basketball, winning National Player of the Year in his senior campaign, and is now making a name for himself in the NBA. He provides gritty on-ball coverage and smart team defense while bringing constant heart and hustle. He’s established a place in the league and his story is yet another installment in Miami’s renowned player development program.

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