Last Friday against the Lakers, while the Knicks were pretending to be a feisty underdog capable of putting a scare into a #1 seed should they crack the playoffs — only to be exposed against the Mavericks in a 50-piecing two days later — the All-Star resume of NY’s David Lee was one of the night’s themes. At one point, ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy said that players from sub-.500 teams should be banned from making the All-Star team, presenting one extreme in the annual debate over how important a team’s win-loss record should be for an individual player’s All-Star case.
Personally, I don’t think it should matter that much. Although basketball is one of the few sports where one guy can carry an otherwise mediocre team to the playoffs (seeing as more than half the teams in the League make the postseason), I don’t want to penalize a player for the mistakes of his front office, his teammates, and other factors he can’t control. If a guy has been injured and missed a lot of games leading up to All-Star, I get that. If his team stinks despite his best efforts, I’m more forgiving.
So while some people want an All-Star team to consist only of players from playoff teams, I wondered what a squad of players from Lottery-bound teams would look like. As of today’s standings, every player on these All-Star rosters is from a team seeded ninth or lower in their conference. Today it’s the West, tomorrow the East:
Backcourt — Chris Paul & Tyreke Evans
CP is the easy pick. The NBA’s leader in assists also ranks third in steals and is averaging 19.9 points per game. Early in the season he looked like he was ready to go into a funk as the Hornets were playing bad and uninspired ball, but they’ve since gotten back on track and are climbing in the standings (23-20). If New Orleans makes the playoffs, CP is a viable MVP candidate. Evans was a tougher pick, mainly because I had to decide between him and Monta Ellis. While Monta (26.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.5 apg) is among the League leaders in scoring and has comparable or better numbers across the board, Tyreke (20.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.9 apg) has taken on an unexpected leadership role as a rookie, and up until recently, had the Kings going shot-for-shot with some of the best teams in the League. Between the two, if I needed one guy to take one shot to win the game, I’d trust Tyreke.
Frontcourt — Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph & Marcus Camby
Durant is a lock for the regular All-Star team, ranking third in the NBA in scoring (29.3 ppg) and assumimg Brandon Roy‘s old spot as the shiny new toy on every media outlet’s radar. Z-Bo (20.9 ppg, 11.4 rpg) isn’t doing anything outside of his career norm, but with the Grizzies playing over-.500, he’s finally getting some credit. Chris Kaman has been getting the most All-Star talk among Clippers, but Camby is L.A.’s true interior anchor. He’s putting up 12 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, and has actually been more durable than his teammate.
Bench — Monta Ellis, Baron Davis, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, David West, Al Jefferson, Chris Kaman
Biggest snub — Corey Maggette