Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
It's all about rewarding the winners out West, including the Grizzlies.
Here is who I think should (hoping will) get into the All-Star game in Houston. You have a couple of days to ponder/argue this before the actual participants are announced on Thursday. As for the stats I used, numbers are as of Monday night and simply rounded up/down to make them easier to digest. Enjoy…..
EAST STARTERS: Rajon Rondo BOS, Dwyane Wade MIA, Lebron James MIA, Carmelo Anthony NYK, Kevin Garnett BOS.
MY Reserves: (too many PG’s & C’s? Hey, it’s my list & high pick n rolls are IN.)
Deron Williams BKN 17 pts 8 assts 1 stls
The consensus in the media is that if the Nets get an All-Star after their up and down year (which they should), then it’ll be Brook Lopez. I disagree. Brook may have nice numbers, but this is D-Will’s team. He is the reason Lopez is so productive. If you doubt me, just watch a couple of possessions on the YES Network.
Kyrie Irving CLE 23 pts 6 asts 2 stls
I don’t care what the Cavs’ record is (10-32 as of Monday), ‘Uncle Drew’ is an All-Star. I’m not going to punish this star for having a supporting cast of clueless youngsters. Broken hand or busted face, he comes to play every night like a phenom. Without him, this team might be 4-38.
JRue Holiday PHI 19 pt 9 assts 4 rebs
This guy has gotten better each and every year, and his time is now. Had Andrew Bynum been healthy, he’d probably be the choice here. But without the center Philly has built around, JRue has had to do more…and he’s made it look easily. It’s been impressive to watch.
Paul George IND 17 pts 8 rebs 4 assts
I feel pretty good right about now. I said last year that Paul George needed Danny Granger’s starting small forward spot to shine and become a star. With ‘Batman’ out the 1st half of the year, the former Fresno State Bulldog is doing just that. I expect his numbers to only rise as time goes one, Granger return or not.
Josh Smith ATL 17 pts 8 rebs 4 assts
All-Star nods are usually a year behind. That’s precisely the case with ‘Smooth’. He got robbed last year, and this season he’s even better. Josh is the best player on the Atlanta Hawks, period. I’m not penalizing him for beefing with coach Larry Drew recently…that stuffs happens. Smith is still the man down south. Pick a column on the stat sheet, he fills them all.
Joakim Noah CHI 12 pts 11 rebs 2 blks
Another All-Star nod that may be a season (or two) late. Joakim has been a productive throwback center the past two years, and now he’s even added a perimeter shot. I commend him for playing with passion every night without acting like a maniac (hear me KG & Tyson?). I also like that he’s stayed healthy all year. That doesn’t happen by accident.
Tyson Chandler NYK 12 pts 11 rebs 1 blks
I still can’t stand Chandler’s ‘fake thug’ antics out on the court, but respect is due. The numbers may not be astonishing, but he changes the game with his length and activity…on both ends. I think he was the REAL Finals MVP back in 2011. The Knicks are great and it’s a lot more than Melo. It’s the D-E-F-E-N-S-E. ‘TC’ is a big reason why.
Brook Lopez BKN 19 pts, 7 rebs, 2 blks
As I said above, I see Brook’s numbers but don’t respect them…not enough to send him to Houston ahead of franchise player Deron Williams. Oh, and the Nets do NOT deserve two All-Stars. Moving on…..
Luol Deng CHI 17 pts, 6 rebs, 3 assts
He’s at the top of the league in minutes played. While that deserves respect, it also affects how I look at his stats. Plus, I think Noah deserves it more. Luol got in last year.
Paul Pierce BOS 19 pts, 6 rebs, 4 assts
The Celtics just aren’t good enough to warrant having 2 All-Stars (Laker fans smiling) let alone 3. KG already snuck in on fan votes with Rajon Rondo. While Pierce is still effective, he looks slower than that old guy guy down at your rec ctr. I’m not falling for his old man tricks.
J.R. Smith NYK 17 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assts
The only reason I am mentioning JR here is because people keep bringing his name up. While he is a much better all-around player this season, I personally don’t consider his play "All-Star worthy". I’m happy Smith finally ‘gets it’, but that’s not enough to make it to Houston.
WEST STARTERS: Chris Paul LAC, Kobe Bryant LAL, Kevin Durant OKC, Blake Griffin LAC, Dwight Howard LAL.
MY Reserves: (Unlike East’s parity, I’m rewarding the top seeds out West)
Russell Westbrook OKC 23 pts 8 rebs 2 stls (42% field goals, same as career)
Not much to say here…..Russ is a freak and leading a team that’s just spectacular. Hopefully there are no mascot’s at the All-Star Game. Next…..
Tony Parker SAS 20 pts 7.3 assts 1 stls
The Spurs have ruined my preseason prediction by again being a great team this season. There was once a time when Parker was a fringe All-Star…not anymore. As long as he’s healthy, just pencil him in. This year, I’m using pen.
Stephen Curry GSW 21 pts 7 assts 2 stls
The sweetest jumpshot in the league. Steph has had this all along, he just hasn’t had the wins or the right ankle strength. With both on the up and up, he is headed to Houston.
Rudy Gay MEM 18 pts 6 rebs 3 assts
Rudy got robbed last year, this year he gets in. He’s been in, on average, a trade rumor a week…some even made up. Yet he’s continued to play big and give the Grizzlies badly needed perimeter scoring. There are few guys I respect more than Gay this season.
Zach Randolph MEM 16 pts 12 rebs 1 blks (actually o.5)
Memphis is 4th out West and deserves two All-Stars. Z-Bo is the heart of this team. He’s a double-double machine and a great leader for this group. As much as I respect Rudy, Zach gets even more ‘props’ from me. I don’t buy NBA jerseys but, if I did, it would be RANDOLPH #50.
David Lee GSW 20 pts 11 rebs (o.2 blks) His numbers are as impressive as his team’s play this season. Golden State deserves two All-Stars so Lee is in. Actually, I’d put him in ahead of Curry if I had to since David’s been doing it longer. Finally it’s now on a winner and with a healthy frame. I don’t care who’s "the best PF in the league". Let’s just sit back and enjoy this lefty’s game down in Houston.
Tim Duncan SAS 17.3 pts 9.6 rebs 3 blks
I keep finding reasons to not send Timmy to Houston and get a younger guy in. I can’t. Duncan has turned back the clock and it all starts with the offseason. His routine of swimming and salads has him back in the All-Star game, where he belongs.
James Harden HOU 26 pts, 5 assts, 4 rebs
I know the game is in Houston but I’m not rewarding the lower seeds out West. They just don’t impress me that much. They could be out of the playoffs tomorrow. James has been way better as ‘the man’ in Houston but, again, living on the edge of the playoffs doesn’t guarantee you an All-Star. I put Irving on the East squad because I think he’s the next Chris Paul. Harden will get in next year. Plus, an injury always happens. He’ll get the next spot available a la ‘Commissioner Knez’.
LaMarcus Aldridge POR 21 pts, 9 rebs, 1 blks Aldridge got in last year, so he needs to be even better this year to get my attention. He’s not. While Portland has ‘exceeded expectations’ they’re teetering on the edge of the playoffs. I’d rather reward the top seeds. Plus, LaMarcus takes more jumpers than I’d like to see (he’s been watching too much Kevin Love).
Nikola Pekovic MIN 16 pts, 9 rebs, 1 blks
My countryman (SAY "MONTENEGRO") has been impressive the past calendar year, ever since Rick Adelman decided to start him…check that, ever since ‘Pek’ forced Rick to start him. He does what Love USED to do for Minny inside. Another season and a few more wins, he’ll get into the game. Book it.