The announcement of the NBA All-Star Game starters is about as climactic as a controversial story about the Knicks or a
The reserves? Well, that's another story. The reserves are controversial. Only 14 backups, or seven from each conference, are selected out of a pool that probably extends close to 30, making the process an inexact science.
Every team thinks it deserves to have an All-Star. The Timberwolves, for instance, have the worst record in the NBA, but you can bet they will be crying foul if
The head coaches have the final say, choosing two guards, two forwards, a center and two wild cards. While the coaches' picks will be revealed Thursday night, here's how I would fill out the rosters (all stats and records through Tuesday's games).
Let me get this out of the way: I'm biased toward successful teams. While the Celtics have captured the eye of the nation, the Pistons have been content to rack up wins (32) and wait for their moment (which, you can bet, will be the conference finals). Billups, as usual, has been steady if not spectacular (17.9 points, 7.1 assists and 1.4 steals), while Hamilton is shooting 50.3 percent from the field and averaging a team-leading 19 points.
Allen had to expect a drop in status when he came to Boston (though maybe not a drop in shooting percentage, to a career-low 41.8), so his omission is not all that surprising. Redd remains one of the game's most dangerous deep threats, but the struggling Bucks look like a team full of potential All-Stars but without a real one among them.
Wallace, a candidate for the Most Improved Player award, has been a statistical machine for the Bobcats. One veteran assistant coach told me that the loss of
Ilgauskas (along with that James fellow) has been instrumental in keeping Cleveland in contention, averaging 13.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Pistons coach
With apologies to:
If the Bucks were a playoff team, I might give the nod to Bogut, who has scored in double figures in 15 of his last 16 games. Bogut's numbers are nearly identical to Ilgauskas' (13.5 points, 9.2 boards and 1.65 blocks), and the No. 1 pick of the 2005 draft is improving by the day. Next season, he may be a lock.
Butler is one of only three players averaging at least 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. The other two? LeBron and
As for Calderon, the Spanish point guard leads the NBA in assist-to-turnover ration (5.49 to 1) and is lethal from the floor (51.8 percent) and the free-throw line (91.5 percent). Now if we could just get him to stop making that annoying three-point signal with his hands.
Gotta go with the present and the future here. Two-time MVP Nash is actually averaging a career high in assists (11.9) and has once again seamlessly incorporated a new player (
Williams and Paul have gone back and forth: Paul was the superior rookie, Williams the better sophomore. Now, Paul has a slight edge in his third season while a worthy Williams loses a numbers game. The same goes for Parker and Ginobili, who just can't compete this season with two of the best point guards in the NBA.
Few power forwards are as consistently productive as Boozer, who puts up double-doubles with uncanny ease (31 for the season). Reigning MVP Nowitzki has recovered from a slow start to average 22.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the resurgent Mavericks, who are 11-2 in January.
The Warriors are 1-6 without Captain Jack in the lineup and 26-13 with him. Need I say more? OK, I will. Jackson is playing 39.3 minutes a game for the free-wheeling Warriors and averaging 20.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Another season, that might be good enough.
Want to know how close this vote is? I changed mine three times while writing this. Statistics aside, Chandler gets my vote for two reasons: First, he's on the team with the West's best winning percentage; and second, he's playing for the team hosting the game. The differences between Chandler and his competition are razor thin, so those factors put him over the top.
With apologies to:
Camby, the league's top shot-blocker and second-leading rebounder, is hurt by the fact that two of his teammates (Anthony and Iverson) are starting. I have a hard time voting in a third player from a team that isn't that great. Omitting Stoudemire was painful. Kaman deserves recognition for becoming
Someone from the Trail Blazers has to get picked. Roy, the Wicked Wade of the West, has matured into one of the league's most complete guards and a force in the fourth quarter. The same can be said for Davis, who after years of struggling with injuries has finally established himself as a top five point guard.