The All-Star starters were voted by the fans last week. No surprises.
East: D. Rose, ‘Bron, Wade, Howard and ‘Melo.
West: CP3, Kobe, Bynum, Griffin, Durant
Picking the All-star reserves is always the fun part. Each ballot requires a voter to pick two guards, two forwards, one center and two wild cards. I’ve made these picks under the assumption that they SHOULD get in. Should does not mean will, quite the opposite actually. More likely, you’ll see perennial All-stars like Bosh and Pierce. Hopefully, you’ll be surprised by some of the names.
And the 9450 nominees are…
Guards: Brandon Jennings, Deron Williams
Brandon Jennings (20 ppg, 5.3asts., 1.75 steals) is known as a volume scorer, but this season he improved his shooting percentages and lowered his turnover rate. Not widely seen due to his market, Jennings is having a career season that deserves some praise from his peers. Deron Williams’ numbers warrant a selection (20.2 ppg, 8.8 asts) even though his team’s record (8-17) may put him on the bubble for some. I watched him play against Philly and came away fully convinced that D-Will was an All-Star shoe in.
Forwards: Ryan Anderson, Josh Smith
Say what you will about the Magic, but the argument could be made that their most consistent offensive player so far this season has been Ryan Anderson. Mr. Anderson is currently averaging 19.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 1.15 points per possession, good for 8th in the NBA. He’s 11th in PER for players playing at least 20 games. Sure, he is the prime beneficiary of D12’s consistent double teams, but he still needs to knock down those jumpers, which he has at a consistently high rate this season. He’s shooting 42.9% from three and averaging 30 minutes a night for a Magic team in desperate need of his outside scoring.
On the other side of the coin is Josh Smith. Josh Smith can’t shoot (38% from the field, 16% from 3), which is usually a prerequisite for an All-star. But Josh Smith is not a typical All-star. He’s a stat sheet stuffer — 15 ppg, 9 rpg, 3.2 apg., 2.1 blks., 1.3 stls. Smith has morphed nicely into a team leader for the Hawks after Al Horford went down and deserves the nod over Danny Granger, who admittedly has come on of late. Still, Smith’s defense puts him over the top in my mind.
Center: Roy Hibbert
Andrea Bargnani is on my fantasy team. I wanted to pick him badly. Unfortunately, the seven-foot Italian couldn’t stay healthy long enough for me to give him serious consideration. Which is too bad because he was putting up monster numbers. See, what I am doing here? I am talking about Hibbert without actually talking about Hibbert. Hibbert is a fine young center averaging 13 and 10 for a 16-7 Indiana team who like the Sixers and Nuggets have a roster filled with quality depth at nearly every position. I pick Hibbert over Bosh here because Bosh isn’t a true center and it just feels right to reward the emerging big man.
Wild Cards: Andre Iguodala, Anderson Varejao
Iggy is not putting up All-star caliber numbers (12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.2 apg), but like Josh Smith he’s a do-everything guy. Maybe I’m just a sucker for stat-fillers thanks to my love of all things fantasy sports, but I think in a lockout shortened season, where we are picking All-stars after only 25 games, you have to look for guys who consistently bring it every night. I won’t vote for a guy that missed a week’s worth of action. (Sorry Rondo). Yes, seven guys in double figures hardly lends itself to All-star games. Still, Iggy is the type of player that can be inserted into an All-star game and make a big impact without even attempting a shot. If the ultimate goal was to win the game, he’d be in. Alas.
Ditto Andy Varejao. The numbers probably don’t warrant it (9.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg) but all I’ve heard this season was praise for the guy with the constant motor that makes his opponents work for everything they get. He probably won’t get in…I’m thinking Bosh instead, but Varejao has an impeccable reputation around the league and with coaches selecting the reserves, there is an outside shot of his selection actually happening.
Snubs: Chris Bosh, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Tyson Chandler, Danny Granger, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Andrea Bargnani, Lou Williams
Guards: Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker
There are a handful of point guards who could possibly get the second reserve guard spot in the West (Ellis and Nash come to mind). I say second because the first reserve spot goes to Westbrook hands down (21.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.0 spg). Westbrook is an athletic specimen who will not conform to everyone’s labels as OKC’s plan B. It’s starting to become 1 and 1A in OKC. As my fantasy first round pick, I say more power to the guy.
With Manu Ginobili out and Tim Duncan’s declining offensive output, Tony Parker continues to remain consistent for Coach Pop. His play of late (25 pts, 6.8 asts in his last four games) gives him the nod over Steve Nash who’s endured nagging injuries and a slow start and Monta Ellis who had a hot start and then cooled. Parker has been there all season.
UPDATE: Monta went off for 48 points last night in a loss to the Thunder…Nash hit a game-winner against the Bucks. So I could be dead wrong picking TP9.
Forwards: Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge
No brainers for both guys. They should and will be All-stars this year. We all knew Kevin Love was a baller but the emergence of Ricky Rubio really put the spotlight on Love who sparked Griffin vs. Love debates all across the country. Personally, I’d take Love over Lob City any day of the week. Aldridge was a snub last year and the coaches will not make the same mistake this time around. he’s not quite in the Love/Griffin discussion but probably should be. He’s listed here as a power forward but I could have easily moved him to the center spot where he plays regularly for the Blazers.
Center: Marc Gasol
I toiled with this one for a minute. You could easily put Aldridge at the center spot and put Pau in the forward spot, but I decided to stay true to the center position. Marc Gasol is averaging 14.8 ppg and 10.8 rpg for a Grizzlies team that is surviving without its rebounding machine, Zach Randolph. Gasol assumed more responsibility when Randolph went down averaging 38 minutes a night, seven more than last season. His production has increased thanks to more floor time. If we are talking true centers, Marc Gasol is the second best center in the West and third overall behind Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
Wildcards: Paul Millsap, Danilo Gallinari
It’s hard not to go Nash, Gasol or even Nowitzki with these wildcards. Nowitzki flat out admitted he shouldnt be an all-star and the fact is he’s not playing at that level. Nash and Gasol are playing at their normal levels and Nash and Parker are even in PER as John Hollinger pointed out today. Still, these are wildcard spots and they should be wild for a reason. Millsap is the heart and soul of a young but talented Jazz team in the midst of finding an identity under coach Corbin. At 16.9 and 9.5 in only 31 minutes a game, Millsap gets the nod over the regulars because he simply deserves to be an All-star. He’ shooting 52% and is top ten in PER. He’s in.
It may just be a numbers game for Gallo. Unfortunately, the forward spots are locked up if the coaches view Aldridge a power forward rather than a center. Still, I think he’s earned it for a Nuggets team that leads the league in offense. Like Iggy, Gallinari is the leader of a team with no real All-stars. He’s averaging 17.1 ppg, 5.3 boards, 2.7 apg and 1.3 steals a game. Plus, if I picked Iggy and Hibbert and Varejao, of course I’m picking Gallo. Plus, Gallinari guarding Melo? I’d pay to see that.
NOTE: Gallo injured his foot and x-rays revealed a chip fracture. It looks like he’s going to be out a month. If he’s too hurt to play, I’d give it to Nash, who would be lights out in an All-star game.
Snubs: Pau Gasol, James Harden, Steve Nash, Rudy Gay, Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki
You may rip me for selections (Varejao? Really?)…right now.