|Posted on February 12, 2012 at 7:50 PM|
In this article, I will be offering up who should have been chosen to participate as reserves in the All-Star Game. The starters voted on by the fans are Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard (Eastern Conference), and Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Andrew Bynum (Western Conference).
Before we delve into who should or shouldn't be all-stars, let's get a few things straight:
1) Making the all-star game is an individual honor. One must first consider simply how good a player is, and only then how he has impacted his team’s record.
2) That being said, the team record does count for something. For example, several players put up seemingly great stats on bad teams (John Wall, Deron Williams, Tyreke Evans, Monta Ellis), but these high numbers are simply a result of that player handling the ball most of the time. The biggest signs of a player’s stats being a result of a bad team are low field goal percentage and lots of turnovers.
3) When choosing all-stars, you have to throw any players' achievements from before this season out the window.
Ok, I think we're ready to get going! (* denotes a player that was not selected by the NBA)
Guard, Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder – The guy is nearly as important to the team with the best record in the conference as Kevin Durant. While he’s got a long way to go (in other words, he needs to stop pulling up for contested, 20-foot jump-shots when giving the ball to Durant is as close to an automatic score as it gets), he’s improved his field goal percentage all the way up to 47% and currently sits at 6th in the NBA in scoring.
When I first heard that the Thunder gave Westbrook a long-term extension, I thought, “Why would you lock in a player who just had team chemistry problems six months ago?” However, the more I think of it, the more I understand the decision. If you just made the playoffs and then the conference finals in the past two seasons, respectively, with the second best duo in the league (both of whom are 23 years old), why would you not want to keep that duo together until 2016?
Guard, Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns – Don’t even begin to play the “Putting Up Good Stats on a Bad Team” Card. His leading the league in assists shows not only that he’s making his team better, regardless of their record, but dishing out double digit assists with the following supporting cast alone should give him the nod.
• Marcin Gortat (complete product of playing with Nash)
• Jared Dudley (literally does nothing but hit threes off Nash’s assists)
• Shannon Brown (thought that the point of the Slam Dunk Contest is to dunk the ball with the least amount of style or creativity)
• Channing Frye (center shooting 38% from the field)
• Hakim Warrick (I’ve never seen him shoot a shot other than a layup, and somehow he’s shooting just 44% from the field)
• Markieff Morris (rookie shooting 39% from the field)
• Grant Hill (old enough to be Morris’s grandfather)
• Michael Redd (captain of the All-Fallen-Off-the-Map-Team, starring Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Devin Harris)
In addition, percentages like the Nash’s this season are nearly unheard-off (57% from the floor, 46% on three-pointers, 87% from the free-throw line).
Forward, LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers – He’s turned into possibly the best low-post scorer in the game, averaging 23 points per contest, good for 5th in the league.
Forward, Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves – Love is quickly turning into one of the best players in the NBA. He provides 25 points and grabs 14 rebounds a night and he can step back and knock down two threes a game.
Center, Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies – Gasol is a very complete big-man: He’s a good passer out of the post (three assists per game), blocks shots (2.3 per game), crashes the boards (10 per game), and finishes around the rim.
Wild Card, Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs – He’s quietly having a solid season at 14th in the league in scoring, 8th in assists, and carrying the Spurs to the fifth best record in the league with Ginobili injured.
* Wild Card, James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder – Although he is a role-player, he is such a good role player, that he’s good enough to make the cut. In a statistic I created called “Points per possession,” which measures a player’s scoring efficiency based on how many points he scores per each possession he uses trying to score, Harden is first in the league. He scores 17 points per game, and fits perfectly into his role on the Thunder.
- Kyle Lowry – His stat-line is impressive (15 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds), but the 40% shooting concerns me.
- Paul Millsap – He’s really coming along, scoring 17 points per game on 52% shooting, but he’s simply not better than any of the forwards I put on the team.
- Mo Williams – You may laugh, but Mo has filled in nicely for the injured Chauncey Billups, and is shooting the ball fabulously (49% from the field, 43% on three-pointers, 89% from the foul line), but 14 points per game for a guard just isn’t enough to make the all-star team.
- Danilo Gallinari – He is scoring 17 points per game on a fabulous Points Per Possession (go back to the last paragraph if you forget what that is), but so is Harden, and Harden’s on a much better team.
- Ty Lawson
Starting Forward, Chris Bosh, Miami Heat – The fans egregiously voted Carmelo Anthony into the starting lineup, but I’m removing Melo from my roster entirely. His stats look nice, but the ball doesn’t move when he’s on the court for the Knicks (Knicks fans know exactly what I’m talking about). Anyhow, Bosh is 13th in the league in scoring, and has been essential to the Heat with Dwyane Wade’s injuries.
Guard, Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks – He’s been playing solid basketball for the 4th-seeded Hawks, recording 18 points, four assists, and four rebounds per game. By the way, every player that has played for Atlanta since 2008 should all have their master’s degrees in the study of “playing on-and-off during the regular season, finishing with a 3-6 seed, and then losing badly to a superior team in the playoffs.” It looks like Atlanta’s headed that direction once again… surprise, surprise.
* Guard, Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks – Jennings has single-handedly carried the Bucks into a position where they’re just 0.5 games out of the playoffs by dropping 19 points a night (with Andrew Bogut injured). If you don’t believe that he should be in the top 15 for MVP so far, then just try to name the four other Bucks’ starters… I’ll give you 30 seconds… do you believe me now? (Shaun Livingston, Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden)
Forward, Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics – His stats, 18 points, six assists, and six rebounds per game, are as impressive as any in the Eastern Conference not belonging to a player named Lebron. Boston was in free-fall, below .500, and out of the playoff picture until Pierce starting playing out of his mind, and helped the Celtics win nine of ten games, most of which without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.
Forward, Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers – He’s been the all-purpose player for a team that is surprisingly just 1.5 games behind Miami in the standings (13 points, five assists, seven rebounds per game. Plus, I hate to bring in the entertainment factor, but honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few windmill dunks from Iguo during the All-Star-Game.
* Center, Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks – The fact that I have been watching lots of Knicks’ games and witnessing Chandler’s impact on the team certainly influenced this pick, but he is doing everything that New York is asking him to do. He’s grabbing ten rebounds a game, finishing dunks at a whopping 70% rate, and turning them into an above average defensive team in terms of points allowed.
* Wild Card, Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks – I’m hesitant to select a player who still can’t figure out after eight seasons that he shouldn’t be shooting jump shots. On the other hand, a small forward giving his team two steals and two blocks per game is hard to argue against.
* Wild Card, Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons – He’s on a really bad team, but among all centers in the league, he is 6th in field goal percentage, 1st in free-throw percentage, 6th in rebounds, and 2nd in points. He’s only 21 years old. For the many of you who haven’t heard of this guy, he’s going to be a star very shortly.
- Anderson Varejao – Both Byron Scott, the Cavaliers’ coach, and my friend, Brandon Potter, a loyal Cavs’ fan, have said that Varejao is the most important player on the Cleveland team. He leads the league in offensive rebounds, but, I just cannot imagine Anderson Varejao in any group including Paul Pierce and Chris Bosh.
- Kyrie Irving – He has come in as a rookie and helped improve Cleveland from the laughing-stock of the league to a team in the playoff hunt with extraordinary shooting percentages (50% from the field, 40% on three-pointers, 83% from the foul line). However, he’s a rookie, and he may not even be the best player on a below-average team.
- Deron Williams – As I said earlier, he’s one of those “Putting Up Good Stats on a Bad Team” guys.
- Rajon Rondo – Even though he is averaging 13 points, ten assists, and five rebounds per game, he can’t shoot a wide-open 15 foot shot, and that really hurts the Celtics’ offense.
- Ray Allen – He is having yet another marvelous year shooting the rock, but he simply doesn’t have all-star quality statistics.
- Jrue Holiday
- Louis Williams
Please comment and tell me who you thought should have been All-Stars.