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SI.com's NBA All-Star Picks

SI.com's NBA All-Star Picks
The fans' selections for All-Star Game starters will be revealed Thursday night. The coaches' reserve choices will be announced Jan. 28. Which players deserve a trip to Dallas for the Feb. 14 midseason showcase? Four SI.com NBA writers make their picks below. For the starting lineup, the writers chose players at the position at which they're listed on the official ballot. For reserves, writers were given more leeway -- -- just as the coaches are in rounding out the rosters with two guards, two forwards, a center and two wild-card picks. (All stats and records are through Tuesday.)
 
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE STARTERS
GUARD
Kobe Bryant   SI CONSENSUS PICK
Los Angeles Lakers
11 career All-Star appearances
PPGRPGAPGSPG
28.35.24.51.8
Ian Thomsen:Kobe Bryant. The ruthlessness that used to be viewed as Bryant's weakness is now acclaimed as the source of strength that drives the Lakers to defend their championship. For years it was assumed that he couldn't lead a team, but now his teammates thrive in his shadow. It's a close race for MVP with LeBron James, but Bryant has earned the early lead by keeping the Lakers No. 1 while making sense of Ron Artest's arrival and Pau Gasol's absences.
Jack McCallum: Kobe Bryant. Broken finger. Back spasms. Fatigue. The man just plays on and on and on. All-Star weekend will offer the predictable opportunity for endless would-you-rather-have-Kobe-or-LeBron stories, but until the Cav has rings on his fingers, make mine Mamba.
Chris Mannix:Kobe Bryant. No debate here as Bryant retains his title as the most dominant two-guard in the league. How good is he as a closer? The Lakers have led going into the fourth quarter 31 times this season. They haven't lost yet.
Paul Forrester:Kobe Bryant. Like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson before him, Kobe gets the starting nod here until he decides he doesn't want it. Even more impressive than Kobe's on-court accomplishments is the complete career rehab he has made since his sexual-assault case six years ago.
GUARD
Steve Nash
Phoenix Suns
5 All-Star appearances
PPGAPGFG%FT%
18.711.153.894.2
Ian Thomsen: Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers' horrid run of injuries has forced Roy to confront and reveal his potential, not only as a top 10 scorer but also as a calming leader who has kept his young team in the playoff race while trying to find a place in the offense for newcomer Andre Miller. If the Blazers can place enough firepower around him, he now looks like capable of leading them to a championship someday.
Jack McCallum: Steve Nash. Oh, this is a tough one. I'll take Nash over the Hornets' Chris Paul based mainly on the fact that Paul missed eight games with his ankle injury. And you know what? Deron Williams or Jason Kidd could run your All-Star team pretty well, too, and one of them doesn't even make my squad.
Chris Mannix: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns. His numbers are virtually identical to what he put up during his two MVP seasons -- how can he not be the starter? Chris Paul gives him a run, but the injury absence cost him.
Paul Forrester:Steve Nash. Incredibly, Nash has dialed up the best offense of his career at age 35. That's in addition to operating the league's highest-scoring attack.
FORWARD
Dirk Nowitzki
Dallas Mavericks
8 All-Star appearances
PPGRPGAPGFG%
25.58.02.647.8
Ian Thomsen:Dirk Nowitzki. He is approaching the high standard of his 2006-07 MVP season. Nowitzki has positioned the Mavericks to become the No. 2 team in the West while draining those unguardable fadeaways from the top of the key and beyond.
Jack McCallum:Dirk Nowitzki. He gets any kind of look at the basket and I think it's going in. Period. Nowitzki remains limited defensively, but he's still the choice in a really crowded position.
Chris Mannix:Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets. 'Melo staves off a hard-charging Kevin Durant for this spot. Dwight Howard sold me on this one; Howard said recently that if forced to choose among Anthony, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, he's taking Carmelo.
Paul Forrester:Dirk Nowitzki. He may not be the vocal leader many seem to want him to be, but he's quietly taken greater responsibility for the Mavericks' mind-set, chastising teammates for taking bad shots and running the wrong plays.
FORWARD
Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs
11 All-Star appearances
PPGRPGBPGFG%
20.010.41.955.2
Ian Thomsen:Tim Duncan. The steadiest star of the new millennium, Duncan lost weight over the summer without diminishing his bottom line. As impressive as it is to see him continue to fill every column of the box score, it is his 3.1 assists per game that showcases his exceptional talent for coming to the aid of teammates. At 33, he is a marvel.
Jack McCallum:Tim Duncan. As usual, it's easy to forget about Mr. Fundamental. But he's so consistently good that he consigns the league's leading scorer, Carmelo Anthony, to the bench.
Chris Mannix:Tim Duncan. Tons of competition for this spot (most notably Dirk Nowitzki), but this has been a renaissance year for Duncan, whose scoring and shooting percentage are both up from last season even though he's playing less.
Paul Forrester: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. Guess we and a few others were wrong about that whole Greg Oden debate, eh? Durant has upped his numbers across the board while also sparking the turnaround of a defense that ranks second in opponents' field-goal shooting.
CENTER
Amar'e Stoudemire
Phoenix Suns
4 All-Star appearances
PPGRPGBPGFG%
20.88.80.856.1
Ian Thomsen:Amar'e Stoudemire. He leads surprising Phoenix in points, rebounds and shooting percentage in pursuit of a new contract. With Yao Ming sidelined and Tim Duncan listed as a forward, Stoudemire becomes the only center with star appeal in the West -- albeit as a power forward who has morphed to the pivot. When Shaq looks back over his shoulder, he surely cannot believe what has become of his old conference.
Jack McCallum:Amar'e Stoudemire. The Suns' man-child has been solid as he puts together his fourth consecutive season of at least 20 points and eight rebounds. He's also improved his defense, though why he is not a truly formidable shot-blocker remains a mystery.
Chris Mannix:Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers. I had no choice but to vote Duncan as a forward, his position on the ballot; on the other hand, I can choose not to acknowledge Amar'e Stoudemire as a center. Kaman is the best choice here for the West and he's not even on the All-Star ballot. With Blake Griffin sidelined, Kaman has helped keep the Clippers afloat.
Paul Forrester:Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies lead the NBA in points in the paint thanks in part to Gasol, who ranks second in the league in shooting. Pau's little brother has helped balance out a Grizzlies-Lakers trade for which Memphis was lambasted throughout the league.
WESTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES
Ian Thomsen: Welcome to four newcomers: Deron Williams and Kevin Durant are obvious picks; Chris Kaman belongs based on his 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds (and, yes, I know that pick isn't consistent with my preference for stars on winning teams, but the 18-22 Clippers' recent four-game losing streak had everything to do with Kaman's absence); and Zach Randolph (pictured) has been a frontcourt leader for the surprising Grizzlies. Those who are more inclined to select players from losing teams may consider the Warriors' exciting Monta Ellis, but the West coaches are more likely to make room for Pau Gasol, who isn't on my list because of his extended trouble with injuries.G Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
G Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
G Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
F Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
F Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
C Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers
Jack McCallum: Players such as Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd and Rudy Gay didn't make my roster, and all of them might've been All-Stars in the East. Plus, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant can make a case to start. Pau Gasol might've made it had he not missed so many games with a hamstring injury, and his younger brother, Marc, wouldn't have been a bad backup pick. Zach Randolph, previously a candidate only for the all-knucklehead team, and Chris Kaman (pictured), who was injured most of last season, are having great years.G Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
G Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
G Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
F Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
F Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
C Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Mannix: Only one Laker? I know, but who could Pau Gasol replace? Kevin Durant (pictured)? He is a fraction of a point away from being the NBA scoring leader. Amar'e Stoudemire? He's having a similar statistical season to Gasol but has played in 18 more games, and I need him at center. Zach Randolph? He's the biggest reason for Memphis' turnaround. Carlos Boozer (19.0 points, 10.6 rebounds in 41 games) might have a stronger case to make than Gasol, but both are victims of the West's frontcourt depth. G Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
G Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
G Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
F Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
C Amar'e Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
Paul Forrester: Chris Paul is a given, and Deron Williams should be as well. Brandon Roy (pictured) has kept the injury-plagued Blazers together and remains the best off-guard in the West not named Kobe. Tyreke Evans, the Rookie of the Year favorite, has fast-forwarded the Kings' rebuilding project. Carmelo Anthony seems determined to remind people why he was the No. 3 pick in 2003. Tim Duncan has done more with fewer minutes than Amar'e Stoudemire. It's impossible to ignore how well Randolph has fit in Memphis.G Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
G Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
G Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
G Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
F Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
F Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
C Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR PICKS
 

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