With the slew of injuries that have taken the East’s guards, it has allowed the borderline All-Stars to finally obtain a legitimate chance of making their first All-Star Game.
Consider it as a silver lining for the likes of certain unrecognized guards out of Orlando, Washington and Toronto. The spots would have typically been doled out to the likes of certain point guards that reside in Chicago, Boston and Brooklyn. Instead, we’re going to get a look at some fresh faces, which is nice for a change.
It helps that those three newbies, at least those who I believe deserve to make it, are young athletes that could end up stealing the show. It’s also led the way for there being a new starting point guard to play alongside Dwyane Wade in the backcourt. Although the voters are in charge of who will make it, it’s still extremely arguable on which of the East’s young dynamic point guards should be earning their first All-Star start. Either way, they’ll be joining a starting lineup that should be made up of players from the East’s first and second-best teams.
This article does not take the voters into account. Consider it as more of an opinion piece, rather than a prediction one. For example, Carmelo Anthony will no doubt be given the start in the East’s frontcourt because of the voters, but is he more deserving, leading a 15-25 team, than a certain Indiana Pacers center that has been the cornerstone of the league’s best defense?
This year’s Eastern Conference All-Stars should serve as a dedication to the best players on teams that haven’t received much attention this year. As bad as the East has been, there are players who are making the best out of bad situations and have been putting up numbers that have gone largely ignored.
Nevertheless, there will still be players who are snubbed, as is the case every All-Star Game.
The lack of the usual All-Star guards made it a struggle to compile the final roster, but the new names will also generate some interest and intrigue into the players we may not have heard much about.
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Backcourt: Dwyane Wade
Safe to say that Dwyane Wade is the league’s best shooting guard? Although he’s averaging only 18.9 points, the lowest since his rookie year, he’s doing it on a career-high 54 percent from the field, the ninth highest field goal percentage in the NBA.
The next best field goal percentage among guards? Goran Dragic and his 49 percent conversion rate. It certainly helps to have LeBron James and Chris Bosh taking away some of the attention, but it also helps to be shooting 40 percent on spot-ups, 48 percent on post-ups, and 81 percent on cuts, per Synergy.
Cutting has become a staple of Wade’s game since James joined the squad. With LeBron attracting double-teams, Dwyane’s greatest adjustment has come by way of cutting through the lane and getting open long enough for the eagle eyes of LeBron.
The Heat have had Dwyane in their maintenance program throughout the year, having played him in 30 of Miami’s 40 contests. While he’s appeared disjointed at times, he’s also had some of the more impressive performances by a Heat player this season, including scoring 32 points on 25 shots against Indiana’s top-rated defense.
On top of averaging nearly 20 points on only 14 shots per game, Wade’s also grabbing 4.8 boards, dishing out 4.7 assists, and garnering 1.8 steals per contest. Per 36, he’s in the 20-5-5 club for the third consecutive season.
Although his numbers have been hindered by a near career-low in minutes per game, Dwyane has solidfied himself as the league’s top shooting guard, because there are two sides of the court.
Backcourt: Kyrie Irving
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a disappointment again, but don’t pin any of that on Kyrie Irving.
With so many of the East’s guards out with injuries (Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose), the other backcourt spot is given to Irving by default, even though his stats have actually taken a decline from last year.
The only increase in his numbers from last year have been his assists per, which has only gone up from 5.9 to 6.0. Otherwise, his overall shooting percentage, three-point percentage, points, rebounds and steals have all dropped from his second season.
Nevertheless, Irving is still one of the league’s premier perimeter players, averaging 21.5 points and 6.0 dimes per contest, while shooting 43 percent from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc.
When Irving isn’t on the court, the Cavs already anemic offense sees its offensive rating drop from 99.9 points per 100 possessions to a meager 95.5. He’s also been one of the league’s best pick-and-roll players, ranking eighth in the league in points per possession, while shooting 47 percent when used as the ballhandler, per Synergy.