The 62nd NBA All-Star game will be played in Houston on Sunday, February 17, 2013 (8 PM EST), televised exclusively on TNT and broadcasted exclusively on ESPN Radio in the United States. The All-Star game will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.
In order to write this article effectively, I had to put aside the voice in the back of my head telling me what I believe the NBA All-Star game truly is: a grade-school popularity contest designed to sell names rather than basketball talent. The brokenness that is the NBA All-Star voting peeves me, but I've been a sports fan long enough to know the All-Star game in any sport is something we writers love to complain about, putting out piece after piece explaining the sure way to "fix it." In the end, though, what do we do? We turn it on.
Regardless, our Grizzlies have put five players (our entire starting lineup) on the ballot for the All-Star Game: Forwards Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen, and all-star veteran and big man Marc Gasol.
With five players on the ballot, ideally, we'd like to see all five be on the court come February. Given Western Conference competition, though, this is most likely not going to be the case. Of the five, I put the over/under of Grizzlies 2013 all-stars at 2.5.
Marc Gasol -
There's not a doubt in my mind Marc Gasol will be voted on the team for his second consecutive season. He's averaging 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.17 blocks in 35.5 minutes. He holds career averages (over 5 seasons with Memphis) of 13.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on .527 shooting. At the time of this article, Marc Gasol is 10th in All-Star votes with 114,465 votes.
Scary Statistic: Gasol is one of only two non-guards averaging at least five assists per game. The other one? LeBron James.
Zach Randolph -
The double-double machine leads the NBA in both total rebounding (14.5) and offensive rebounding (5.7) per game in 37.3 minutes. At 31-years old, ZBo places second on the team in scoring (16.2 points) behind Rudy Gay and is more and more becoming the glue that holds this Grizzlies team at the high-level. At the time of this article, Randolph is 12th in total All-Star votes with 111,045 total votes.
Scary Statistic: Zach Randolph has recorded a double-double in 23 of 29 games this season.
The Numbers will get him there
Rudy Gay -
I really am staring to believe we are a little too hard on Rudy Gay here at Straight Outta Vancouver. The 6'8" forward, in his seventh season with Memphis, leads the team in scoring this season (19.5 points), which puts him at the NBA's 15th leading scorer. He's averaging career highs in all rebounds (6.7), steals (1.67), and blocks (1.00) in 35.0 minutes of play. Rudy, surprisingly (SoV bias) is leading Memphis in All-Star voting (8th) with 140,864 total votes.
Scary Statistic: We lost to the Sixers 99-89 when Rudy had to take the night off for personal reasons. He's way more important than we know.
Mike Conley -
Even moreso than Rudy Gay, Conley is vital to the health of this team. For some reason (we're still trying to figure it out), Hollins' refuses to play Wroten and Selby behind Conley. Maybe he loves Conley too much. Maybe the system is too dependent on Conley. Regardless, the league has noticed, and Conley is on the ballot.
He's averaging career-highs in scoring (14.8 points), assists (6.8 - tied for 15th in the NBA), FG% (.500), and coupling it with his always-incredible ability to steal balls (averaging 2.00 steals).
I'm one of the biggest Conley fans out there and will vote him to be on the team. You should too. Why? He's arguably the most important piece to a 20-9 Memphis team and puts his fair share of work into an offensive system that is built around Rudy Gay jumpshots and points in the paint.
Unfortunately, I don't think he'll get there. With names like Jeremy Lin, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Steve Nash, it's going to hard to get voters to actually look at numbers and value to the overall basketball performance. I'm not saying Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook don't deserve to be there - Chris Paul is easily the best point guard in basketball and needs to be there. Russell Westbrook is right behind him and is proving to lead at another level after Harden's departure. But I have a hard time looking at Steve Nash, who has only played in 6 games at the time of this article, leading Mike Conley in votes.
Scary Statistic: Mike Conley is leading Russell Westbrook in steals per game (2.4 compared to 2.1) and is a much, much better defensive player than Westbrook in 2012-2013. He's beating Dwight Howard in defensive rating and is 0.1 defensive win shares behind Howard.
Tony Allen -
Allen is recording 6.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.67 steals in only 22.5 minutes this season. He was named to the 2011-2012 NBA All-Defensive First team last year. He currently has the 5th best defensive rating in the league behind Larry Sanders, Tim Duncan, Roy Hibbert, and Lamar Odom.
Allen's a defensive specialist, and a darn-good one. Because of this, he would be in nearly any starting lineup in the league. His defense, I believe, makes up for his lack of offensive production. In my opinion, though, the offense is what gets you voted onto the All-Star court. If that's not there, then the media is going to really, really have to push fans to vote TA to Houston.
Scary Statistic: The only thing scarier than Tony Allen playing defense on you? Tony Allen playing defense on you with a grudge. O.J. Mayo and Tony were known to have the occasional scuffle while O.J. played in Memphis. When Mayo came to Memphis this year, he was averaging 20.2 points a game. With Tony Allen on him all game (was a fun one to watch - when Mayo walked off the court, Allen walked off. When Mayo walked on, Allen walked on), Mayo only managed a free-throw in the first half and ended the night shooting 3-for-11 from the field. He scored 10 points.
Tony Allen also held Milwaukee Bucks scoring leader Monta Ellis to a single field goal in 14 attempts on December 19th, just two days before he shut down Mayo. Maybe he was getting warmed up?
Talk it Out
Leave your thoughts below. I put the over/under at 2.5 all-stars for the Grizzlies this year in Houston. Where do you put your money?
And remember, don't forget to VOTE our guys into the game! Voting ends on January 14th.