One will, and one won’t (pictures via The Sporting Blog)
The NBA All-Star starters were announced yesterday (as well as Doc Rivers being the Eastern Conference coach). Once again, the fans maligned perspective makes for a starting line-up that fails to represent the best talent available in either conference. But that’s nothing new; it happens every year.
Now comes the more interesting part. On the 31 (next Thursday), the reserves for each team will be announced. Seven players (7 players— 2 guards, 2 forwards, 1 center, 2 wild-cards) will be picked by the coaches… and by David Stern. To clarify, David Stern will only select a player if injury does not allow a coaches’ selected reserve to participate. This means that David Stern will have the job of picking a player to replace Tracy McGrady for the West All-Stars, seeing as how T-Mac is once more hurt.
If I were the embodiment of all the NBA coaches for each respective conference (+ David Stern), here’s how my teams would look:
Eastern Conference All-Star Reserves:
Coach: Doc Rivers (already selected—I would have taken Sam Mitchell or Stan Van Gundy)
Center: Chris Bosh — He gets the nod because a) there are no other centers in the East who should even be considered an All-Star (sorry Shaq, the streak’s over), and b) as much as I don’t like his game, he has dropped around 40 points four or five times this year and is the heart of a good Raptors team. But, Shaq will probably will be chosen, although, if he’s classy about it, he’ll realize he’s not worthy this year and opt to not play (not like he can’t use the recovery time anyway), allowing a worthy player to be selected anyway.
Forward: Caron Butler — He is a gangster. Period. Imagine if the Lakers hadn’t swapped him for “No-Fingers” Brown…
Forward: Paul Pierce — Although I don’t like factoring in team success during MVP selection (as long as their team is in the playoffs, who cares?), it does matter in the All-Star game. Beside leading the C’s in scoring, Pierce has shown much improved defense, kind of improved passing, and once in a while improved decision-making. Gotta have him on the squad.
Guard: Chauncey Billups — For the record, I’m not sure how deserving Billups is of this spot. I just can’t bring myself to put Joe Johnson or Michael Redd ahead of him, not with the success of the Pistons compared to the Hawks or Bucks. There’s got to be at least one representative from a the second best team in the East.
Guard: Jose Calderon — I first learned about Calderon two years ago in my fantasy league. Keeping an eye on him ever since, I can honestly say that he’s a top five most underrated player in the league, maybe even the most underrated. And a few days after seeing him dismantle Rajon Rondo and torch the C’s, he’s got to be on the list.
Wild-Card: Gerald Wallace — If Wallace is left off the reserve list, I may boycott the rest of the NBA season. All he’s doing is averaging 21, 6, 3.5, and a block for good measure, on a streaky Bobcats team, and continuing to show he is more than just raw athleticism. I love his heart, and I’ve seen him have too many monster games this year (36, 14, and 5 against the Magic anyone?) for him not to be on the team.
Wild-Card: Joe Johnson — This was a toss-up between Joe Johnson and Mini-Ears (R-Jeff for those keeping track at home). What it came down to is that the Hawks will make the playoffs while the Nets may not win another game all season (don’t talk to me about Kristic mattering, I’ve read rumors that Boki Snackbar is handling him in one-on-one lately), and that Johnson does much more for his team than Jefferson. All that Jefferson really has going for him is an extra 2 ppg, but I’ll attribute those to Kidd, so Johnson is the choice.
Western Conference All-Star Reserves:
Coach: Byron Scott (no words necessary, just a number: 1. As in first.)
Center: Amare Stoudemire — He shoots jumpers a little now. His touch continues to improve. He does fun stuff with his hair. He hasn’t fought to the death with Shawn Marion yet. All of these qualities make Amare and All-Star once again.
Forward: Carlos Boozer — Despite being relatively quiet in his last 5 games, Boozer is as deserving as any power forward in the game when it comes to being named an All-Star. He is 10th in the league in scoring (22.5 per, a career high) and 9th in field goal percentage (just under 55%), and despite taking a night off from the glass now and again, still is averaging 11 boards a night. Now if only the Jazz could figure out the whole winning thing.
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki (filling T-Mac’s spot) — I will admit it: I’m a Dirk hater. Everything about a 7-footer playing like old Mark Jackson (slow back-downs at the elbow?) and looking like an uncoordinated (stereotypically and flamboyantly) gay ballerina makes me angry. But there’s no denying Dirk’s talent and effectiveness. His numbers may be down a little from last season (22 and 8.5 compared to 25 and 9), but I believe that has to do more with the Mavs deciding to save themselves for the playoffs than with any fault in Dirk’s game.
Guard: Chris Paul — Simply put, Chris Paul is the most efficient point guard in the game. The amount of success he is having with the pieces surrounding him in New Orleans (Jannergo Pargo should give Paul 95% of any contract he signs from here on out) borders on unfathomable. He leads the league in steals (take that Nash enthusiasts), is third in assists, and scores effortlessly and only when the opportunity presents itself or the situation necessitates it. If I had to name the best point guard in the game today, I would have no hesitation putting Paul ahead of Nash.
Guard: Steve Nash — Now, despite all the Chris Paul love I just gushed out, don’t for one moment take it as disregard for Steve Nash. The amount of work he is able to put in on a nightly basis with 11 season under his belt is astounding, as is the fact that he’s shooting 47% from three, 90.3% from the line, and 51% from the field while averaging a career best 12.1 assists per game. Although I may have chided him just a paragraph before for his lack of defense, these numbers more than make up for it. On top of that, he is the quintessential All-Star Game point guard. Lets hope that AI goes to the bench early and often.
Wild-Card: Brandon Roy — Going by just the numbers (19 points, 4.5 boards, 5 assists), Roy is good, but probably not All-Star worthy. But the amount of poise and control he possesses each an every game make him a shoe-in for me. Nowhere can the bright future of the league be more certain than when watching Roy and the Trail Blazers play. With the type of season the Blazers are having, and the propensity of the coaches to vote in young, improved players (think Josh Howard last season), it should be surprise to anyone to see Roy representing the good folks of Portland in New Orleans this February.
Wild-Card: Baron Davis — This last spot came down to BD, Manu, and Chris Kaveman, but in the end, the choice had to be Baron. He is having the best season of his career, setting career highs nearly across the board, but more importantly, he is healthy, having played 44 games for the 8th place Warriors. When he puts his mind to it, Davis is as unstoppable a force as there is to be found in today’s NBA, and more and more, his mind is being put there. Despite the fact that Kaman looks to be as good a center as there is to be found, and Manu continues to be sickeningly efficient (and downright cold-hearted), Davis has the bonus of last season’s playoff performance boosting his stellar ’07-’08 campaign, and he is deserving of the West’s final spot.
Tags: Allen Iverson, Amare Stoudemire, Baron Davis, Bostjan Nachbar, Brandon Roy, Byron Scott, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Chris Paul, David Stern, Dirk Nowitzki, Doc Rivers, Gerald Wallace, Jannero Pargo, Joe Johnson, Jose Calderon, Josh Howard, Kwame Brown, Manu Ginobli, Mark Jackson, Michael Redd, Nenad Kristic, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Richard Jefferson, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion, Steve Nash, Tracy McGrady