Ahh, the All-Star selections. It’s this time of year where a collective groan lets out from basketball nerds across the internet. This year’s ASG rosters has some good picks, but they leave much to be desired as usual. More importantly, there isn’t much leeway for replacement picks so far. All the players involved are either healthy or expected to heal from injuries, outside of the dubious fan vote for Yao Ming. That means there’s a bunch of “maybe next year” denial letters to hand out when the break rolls around.
I admire the effort put out by the following snubs as well as the smart picks. That’s not to say fans and coaches alike made all the proper selections. Here’s what I think the East and West rosters ought to resemble.
Eastern Conference All-Stars
Starters: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard
Reserves: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Al Horford, Joe Johnson
The fan vote pretty much got it right. As it stands, everyone starting for the east is either having a career year or maintaining their high level of play. You’ll hear no complaints from me…yet.
Kevin Garnett may look like an odd man out to some. Yet the dismal state of the East’s power forward pool shows he’s always near the top in terms of overall production and defensive prowess in the first half of the season. Chris Bosh, on the other hand, steadily improved from a dismal start. That doesn’t stop him from being the questionable choice when it comes to the East coast’s bigs. Joe Johnson is a runner up in the suspect pick category for his mixed performance up until the past month.
The Eastern Snubs
Raymond Felton is a prime candidate when it comes to talking about Eastern Conference snubs. He’s having a career year despite alright play in some recent games. Amar’e may run things in NY. But you best believe Ray’s contributions as a much improved floor general have much to do with the Knicks’ revitalization. I’d sub him out for Joe Johnson since he’s played better basketball for a longer duration.
Additionally, say what you want about Josh Smith’s wayward jumper. His effect on the game is mostly felt on the defensive end. He’s a 4 that can stay in front of smaller players as well as play passing lanes and provide great help side defense. Smith’s spot up three point shot is coming around a bit as well. He’d take Bosh’s spot in a perfect world.
Western Conference All-Stars
Starters: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Yao Ming (fan vote starter: out because of injury), Tim Duncan (starter via coach’s pick)
Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Manu Ginobili, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki
Everything’s all good until you get to the starting center. In what world is Yao Ming a bonafied All-Star this year? We all know he’s got a whole country behind him but it’s like they said “Yeah, we know he only played five games. But hey, he’s still our Yao!”
Good on the coaches for getting Westbrook, Griffin and Ginobili into the reserves. They’re all having great years, especially Griffin, who’s more than an on demand highlight reel. Kevin Love also deservedly snuck in as Yao’s replacement. He may be on a bad team but his individual accomplishments this year helped his cause a great deal.
Tim Duncan’s a Hall of Famer on the NBA’s best team and he’s their main interior defensive force. All that’s well and good but he’s not a premier player at his position anymore. The Western Conference’s forwards have definitely stepped up this year as he declined. Now it’s at a tipping point were his 13th All-Star Game appearance seems influenced by his better days rather than his current form.
The Western Snubs
Now let’s get to the Western snubs. LaMarcus Aldridge’s timing couldn’t have been better considering Portland’s troubles. He’s put up some big time performances while the ailing Blazers trudge along in eighth place out West. I’d make him replace Tim Duncan since he surpassed Timmy in the Western Conference’s pecking order of power forwards this year.
KardashOdom went from having Ghostface question his ties to Queens to finally ballin’ to his full potential. Bynum’s injury enabled him to shine as a starter and maximized his minutes, for the most part, throughout the first half of the season. It’s good to see him not be as ambivalent as he’s been offensively since he’s always touted as such a talented player. He’d also be a better pick in lieu of Duncan. It doesn’t sound right considering each player’s track record until this season but that’s the reality of it.
Besides, if you’re going to add a second Spur to the squad it’s got to be Tony Parker. His numbers may mislead people since they don’t jump out as ASG-worthy. Yet it’s hard to deny that his, along with Ginobili’s play, harbor huge roles in how well the Spurs performed until the break. Manu’s just been on the ball more often than not: currently making him the best player on the team. Tony’s not far behind but the fact that the West is already filled with point guards makes him a hard sell over the likes of Deron Williams or Russell Westbrook.
There are plenty of athletes worthy of snub status not suggested because I’d be at it all day otherwise. However, the aforementioned players are the cream of the crop when it comes to talking about gloss-overs. The bigger issue here is there are only three new All-Stars this year, all in the West, including the newly added Kevin Love. You may think the NBA’s failings may put things in perspective. The league’s talent pool is spread thin, fan voting is usually egregious by sports geek standards and deserving talents get side-eyed every year. I still find it hard to believe, especially by the coaches estimation, there aren’t more new faces worthy of suiting up on the league’s biggest stage. Plenty of talent broke through this year as evidenced by the slideshow and they’re not argued for the sake of novelty. Yet it looks like much of the old guard is holding down the fort when that’s not the case.