NBA All-Star starters announced

by Andrew Kennedy

NBA.com

Last night on TNT the NBA All-Star starters were revealed as voted by the fans. Yao Ming, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson all somehow were not selected. Those days are over at least.

Dwight Howard was the overall leading vote-getter and Kobe Bryant received the second most votes. I don’t think anyone really has a problem with that but the fans do tend to make the wrong choices every year voting more based on popularity than worth.

This season in particular the starters have been voted on very early into the season because of the lockout and the All-Star game remaining at its original date.

Below I will take a look at each selection and weigh in on whether or not it was the right choice.

Eastern Conference All-Star starters

Point guard

Selection: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (1,514,723 votes)
Other candidates: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics; Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets
The right choice? Yes. Rose was the MVP last season and is again a candidate to win the award this year. The Bulls have had one of the best records in the league this season and Rose just looks like he has improved. Rose is first among point guards in the East with a 25.10 PER and averaging 23.5 points and 8.0 assists per game this season. Rondo has been injured too much to be considered a potential starter and Williams is leading a much worse team and his numbers are worse than Rose’s.

Shooting guard

Selection: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (1,334,223 votes)
Other candidates: Ray Allen, Boston Celtics; Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
The right choice? Yes. Simply because there is no one else Wade is the obvious choice here even though he isn’t having one of his better years and has been sidelined with injury for some part of the season. Wade is leading shooting guards in the East with a 23.47 PER and averaging 20.3 points and 5.5 assists per game this year. Johnson is probably the next choice here but his overall numbers are worse than Wade’s. Johnson has played in 10 more games than Wade this season and the Hawks have a better-than-expected record.

Small forward

Selection: LeBron James, Miami Heat (1,360,680 votes)
Other candidates: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics; Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
The right choice? Yes. LeBron is having one of the best seasons ever for an NBA player and is probably the best player in the league right now. His numbers are off the chart this year with a 33.33 PER and true shooting percentage of .625. He’s averaging 29.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. Pierce and Deng are having good years but of course nothing really close to LeBron. Carmelo Anthony should have been the second small forward choice in the East but as you will see he is already starting.

Power forward

Selection: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks (1,041,290 votes)
Other candidates: Chris Bosh, Miami Heat; Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks; Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks; Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors; Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls; Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
The right choice? No. Anthony is getting numbers this year because of an extremely high usage rate of 30.8 (3rd in the NBA). He’s averaging 23.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game but shooting 20 times per game and only .403 percent from the floor. The Knicks are having a very bad season and he hasn’t been able to put them on the right track as their best player. He’s also not a real power forward of course and with some other deserving players who are power forwards, why not chose them? Chris Bosh and Josh Smith are both more deserving than Anthony and if Bargnani hadn’t gotten hurt, I’d say he would be more deserving too. This is a perfect example of the popular vote getting it wrong.

Center

Selection: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic (1,600,390 votes)
Other candidates: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls; Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
The right choice? Yes. Howard is maybe the most valuable player in the league and despite not giving full effort because he wants out of Orlando, is still putting up big numbers. Howard has a 24.33 PER and is leading the league in rebounding averaging 15.4 per game to go along with 20.1 points per game. Noah and Chandler are good defensive centers but are nowhere near the complete package that Howard is. There is a good chance that a backup center will be selected to as an East reserve and as of now, I think Chandler should get the nod.

Western Conference All-Star starters

Point guard

Selection: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (1,138,743 votes)
Other candidates: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder; Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves; Kyle Lowry, Houston Rockets
The right choice? Yes. Paul has been the best point guard in the West this year but it’s closer than you think. Nash is having another amazing season despite being 38 years old and Westbrook is coming on strong of late too. Paul has been without question the biggest name among West point guards and has played very well late in big games this season. The Clippers are now a contender for the NBA Finals since adding him. Paul is first among West point guards in PER with a 27.15 rating. Nash and Westbrook are second and third. While I love Rubio as much as anyone, he really shouldn’t make the All-Star team this year.

Shooting guard

Selection: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (1,555,479 votes)
Other candidates: Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs; James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
The right choice? Yes. Bryant has had a very good year even for his standards so far this season and is leading the league in scoring averaging 30.0 points per game to go along with his 26.43 PER. Bryant was the All-Star Game MVP last year and will probably be an All-Star starter the rest of his career. Harden is my sleeper pick among West two-guards this year as he is second in PER with a 21.40 rating and averaging 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game this year coming off the bench for the Thunder. I don’t think he will make the team though because the West will probably have three or four point guards make the roster instead of him as well as Monta Ellis.

Small forward

Selection: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (1,345,566 votes)
Other candidates: Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets; Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
The right choice? Yes. With no more Anthony in the West, Durant has no competition making the team in the fans’ eyes. Durant is third in the NBA in scoring this year averaging 26.6 points per game while as well as posting a career-high true shooting percentage of .605. Durant leads West small forwards in PER with a 26.50 rating. Gallinari is second in PER with a 20.66 rating and having a fantastic season. Gallinari should make the team if the West selects a backup small forward as a reserve, but there are so many deserving power forwards in the West that he may not make it.

Power forward

Selection: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (876, 451 votes)
Other candidates: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves; LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks; Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers; Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
The right choice? No. While Griffin is emerging as one of the more popular players in the league and his highlights and numbers have been great, he just isn’t having the best season among power forwards in this conference this year. Kevin Love is definitely the most deserving candidate this year. Griffin is fourth among power forwards in PER with a 22.48 rating while Love is first with a 25.83 rating. Griffin is averaging 21.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game while Love is averaging 25.3 points and 13.6 rebounds. I am surprised that Dirk actually wasn’t selected by fans just because of him winning the title last year. It just goes to show how deep this position is in the West and four or five power forwards really should make the team this year.

Center

Selection: Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers (1,051,945 votes)
Other candidates: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies; DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers; Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns
The right choice? Yes. Bynum is having a career-year and should be getting more attention if not for the fact that everyone expects him to get injured again sometime this year. He has a 21.57 PER behind Al Jefferson and Marcin Gortat but is also averaging 16.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Center has a lot of candidates this year so a backup center should make the West reserves. The fans voted second-most for Jordan but Marc Gasol should be the selection if there is one. Gortat would make it in the East but there are too many other deserving candidates in the West and I think he will get overlooked.

Recap

Of the 10 selections for starters made by the fans, only two were the wrong choice as far as I’m concerned and they weren’t hugely wrong choices. Anthony and Griffin should both be All-Stars but Love, Bosh or even Josh Smith should have been considered starters instead. This is probably one of the best jobs the fans have done in awhile selecting the starters. The game will be awesome with all of the talent in the league this year.

I predict Kevin Durant will be the MVP and come close to scoring 40 points. Dwight Howard will be the least impressive as he usually is and will probably jack up two or three three-pointers. The West is much deeper this year and the reserves should dominate the East reserves especially if a bunch of Celtics make the team for the East.

Below are my picks for the reserves for each conference (in order of deserving).

East reserves
Chris Bosh
Josh Smith
Joe Johnson
Rajon Rondo
Deron Williams
Paul Pierce
Tyson Chandler

West reserves
Kevin Love
Steve Nash
Russell Westbrook
LaMarcus Aldridge
Marc Gasol
Pau Gasol
Dirk Nowitzki