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Stars Collide: Vote for Rudy Gay and All-Star Musings

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First of all let's get the important thing out of the way:

Vote for Rudy Gay right here. Vote for Rudy Gay right here. Vote for Rudy Gay right here. Vote for Rudy Gay right here.

Does Rudy Gay deserve player of the week? No. Of course not. LeBron stats this week were straight out of NBA Jam -- well besides the assists, nobody passes in Jam. But you've still got to rep your Grizz, especially when they're up against the evil empire with over 50% of the vote.

Anyhow, in case you haven't heard, the NBA plays a game every year with the supposed "best players" in the league. The starters are chosen by popular vote, so their definition of "best" is highly subjective. Former Grizzly-favorite Allen Iverson, for instance, will be starting in the East over Joe Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Mo Williams, and other players who actually help their teams win.

The rest of the bench, however, is chosen by the coaches. The Grizzlies haven't had an All-Star selected since Pau Gasol in 2006 -- he's their only All-Star ever -- and Pau Pau might just be the reason the Grizzlies get snubbed again this season; he or Chris Kaman, who has openly complained about the Lakers bias.

David Aldridge has these players picked as his most deserving selections in reserve:

Guards: Deron Williams, Jazz; Brandon Roy, Blazers; Chris Paul, Hornets

Forwards: Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks; Kevin Durant, Thunder; Carlos Boozer, Jazz

Center: Chris Kaman, Clippers

NOSES TO THE WINDOW: Monta Ellis, Warriors; Rudy Gay, Grizzlies; Carl Landry, Rockets; Zach Randolph, Grizzlies

As much as I am rabidly supportive of Grizzlies players, I have to agree with Aldridge here. First, Kaman has to be at Center over Pau Gasol. Chris Kaman isn't a better basketball player than Pau, but he has been much better this season. And Pau is, naturally, more of power-forward anyhow; if that didn't matter than Zach Randolph would deserve that spot.

Getting both Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph into the forward spot is, simply, asking a bit too much -- I get that. Dirk Nowitzki has to play; he might be the 2nd best forward in the West since Duncan should be a center. Kevin Durant is undoubtedly a better player, both this season and overall, than Rudy Gay.

But why is Carlos Boozer getting a nod here over Zach, who he's likely to beat out in the coaches polls as well? They are similar players who's function is to score in multiple ways, but primarily to round up rebounds, and draw double teams to improve their teammates' shots at offensive boards.

Z-Bo has been better at that this season. He averages more points, more rebounds, and averages less turnovers. Yes, Boozer does average slightly more assists and a little better shooting percentages, but I can't help but wonder if that has something to do with the Jazz's offensive system, with several starters getting around 75% of their buckets off assists.

Most importantly, Zach's boarding seems to be a decent bit more helpful to his team. Because of Zach, the Grizz went from the worst rebounding team in the league to one of the worst. Zach contributes far more on the offensive end by doubling Boozer's offensive rebound rate, and helping the Grizz to grab 8% more offensive boards than the Jazz (using rebounding rate to adjust for pace). While Boozer's defensive rebounding rate is, admittedly, much higher than Zach's, the Grizzlies don't need much more rebounding on the defensive end -- they already grab 71.3% of defensive rebounding opportunities.

My point here is that all rebounds aren't created equal. Randolph improves the Grizzlies offensive rebounding significantly; no player impacts his team's defensive rebounding that heavily. If you took Boozer out of the game, the Jazz probably rebound nearly as well. When you take Randolph out of the game, the Grizzlies simply don't get all those second chances.

Speaking of second-chances, Randolph has been an absolute class-act this season. He shows up to every team function, is paying several Memphis families's heating bills this winter, and has very clearly -- somehow -- provided stabilizing veteran leadership. Boozer is arguably playing hard because it's a contract year, publicly demanded a trade earlier this season, and has never been known for his leadership.

With all that in mind, maybe the coaches should take a hint from the voting system and select the guy that we'd all rather see play.