Ok, Ok, Ok. I know I said the next thing I would do is work on more mid–season awards. I swear, my Defensive Player of the Year award is in the proofreading process, and “Sixth Man” is on the way. But tell me, what are the point of midseason awards if I ignore the most obvious one: The All-Star Game?
EAST ALL-STAR STARTING FIVE
PG Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
SG Dwayne Wade – Miami Heat
SF Lebron James – Miami Heat
PF Amare Stoudamire – New York Knicks
C – Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic
Afterthought : For all those NBA think-tankers who doubt the average fan’s ability to vote, this lineup is a wake-up call. The fans got this one as close to right as you can possibly get.
I personally would like to see Celtics G Rajon Rondo, the quickest and most gifted passer in the East, start at the PG position and have the scoring dynamo of Rose come off the bench as a sixth man. Regardless of which one of these two points start, the other one will be robbed. Excellent job voters.
Now for the seven All-Star reserves. For those of you who don’t know how this works, the NBA coaches get to choose two guards, two forwards, a center, and a wildcard (any position) to come off the bench in each conference. In the East, this should be:
PG Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics
Dude’s got the highest assists-per-game average since John Stockton averaged 13.7 in 1991-1992. Did I mention he is doing it on the team with the best record in the East? With players like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Celts have tons of personality and Rondo has gone above and beyond to keep everyone happy.
SG Joe Johnson – Atlanta Hawks
This was so tough for me. Mostly because I love the Celtic frenzy (and because Raymond Felton is having an awesome year complimenting Amar’e), but I had to give it Joe. His points, rebounds and assists numbers are all higher than Ray Allen’s, but it is tough. What it came down to is this: Joe Johnson is the leader of his team on and off the court. At 35, Allen is having career numbers in shooting from the field (and from the three), but while you can argue he is the best player on the Celts, it’s just as easy to argue he’s the fourth best.
SF Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics
You have a former MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in Garnett. Then, you have the aforementioned Rondo with his passing wizardry. For the heck of it, throw in the greatest shooter in NBA history in the previously mentioned Ray Allen. Who do you give the ball to in the clutch?
This guy, captain and leading scorer Paul Pierce. 19 points-a-game does not begin to show how valuable he is to this team. When Rondo goes down, he passes more. When Garnett goes down, he rebounds more. He knows what he needs to do to win and with shooting numbers like 51% FG, 42% 3FG and 85%, he is doing it within himself.
PF Chris Bosh – Miami Heat
When Lebron is having an off-day, Wade covers for him and the Heat probably win. When Wade is having an off day, Lebron covers for him and the Heat probably win. When Bosh has an off game, Heat lose – plain and simple. At 18.6 and 8.2, it’s tough to merely call Bosh an “X Factor”. The guy is a proven scorer and can take over as long as he is stays confident in his game. At the beginning of the year, I was expecting him to be starting this game – regardless he deserves to play.
C Al Horford – Atlanta Hawks
Thank goodness for this man. The center position in the East is somewhat uncompetitive and after Dwight, there is a huge gap in talent. It’s either between this guy or Joakim Noah (when he’s healthy), but this year its all Al. 16.3 points, 9.7 boards, 3.5 assists, 1.1 blocks .8 assists, 57% FG and 82% from the line are numbers sensational at any position.
WILD – depends on who the coaches pick. There deserves to be at least three Celtics. If they go with Joe Johnson at SG , expect Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett here. If they go with Ray, expect Josh Smith of the Hawks, who is having a sensationally versatile year on the stat sheet as always.
WEST ALL-STAR STARTING FIVE
PG Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets
SG Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
SF Carmelo Anthony - Denver Nuggets
SF Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
C Yao Ming – Houston Rockets
Afterthought: YAO MING!?
Alright, so I get that the NBA is encouraging its “go international” initiative here, but lets be real; Five games-played, 10.2 points, 5.4 rebounds in just over 18 minutes are NOT the numbers of an NBA All-Star (although the 1.6 blocks and 93% FT might be). So many players get robbed every year because China is the most populous country in the world, or last year with Allen Iverson’s support squad pushing him to start. Not cool.
There’s also the issue of two starting SFs in the West and no PFs. I tend to be a traditionalist with my basketball but I must tell you – I love this. The All-Star Game is a fast-pace, offensive show, ESPECIALLY for the first quarter which is when this would matter the most (hence the term “starting”). This is a sort of “affirmative action” for all the years when the West started two PFs with Duncan and Garnett, or Duncan and Nowitzki.
PG Deron Williams – Utah Jazz
Boozer who? The Jazz are rocking one of the best records in the best conference and it’s 100% because of this guy. With over 21 points-per-game, it shows he knows what it takes to win. And for a team known for its fight and fourth quarter comebacks, it’s nice to have a leader like this.
SG Manu Ginobli – San Antonio Spurs
Best player on the best team. Greg Popovich is coaching, but it’s not exactly like he is winning with a team of 12 year-olds. Ginobli’s averaging almost 20 points-per-contest He hustles. He leads. He’s the best.
PF Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
No 7- footer has his range, and he straight up rocks. If you need stats – refer to my MVP article. No need to read the whole thing – this guy was #1.
PF Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
Might be the most athletic player in the NBA. This includes Lebron, and Dwight. If that’s not enough, his points and rebound numbers are the highest since Duncan and Shaq were rookies. With those two winding down, this guy is the future. It would have gone to Kevin Love, who is having an awesome season in Minnesota, but both of their team’s are honestly terrible. The difference: Griffin is already learning to win.
C Pau Gasol – Los Angeles Laker
Kobe Bryant is not mentioned in the MVP conversation anymore. Why? Because he doesn’t need to put up 28 anymore. Why? Because this guy steps it up. A double-double machine who is much improved with his back to the basket and defensively. Might be the best PF in the game right now; he’s definitely the most skilled.
C Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
His numbers are down, I know. But come on! He is the consummate professional. He is the anchor of San Antonio’s defense, and is only getting 29 minutes eaxh game. In case you haven’t notice, when the game is close, the Spurs stop running all their “new” pick and roll offenses and lob the ball down-low to this guy. He can still carry a team, Pop’s just playing it cautious.
WILD – PG Russell Westbrook