Last night saw the NBA All Star roster finalized as the seven reserves were announced. I take a look at the Eastern and Western Conference’s 12 man rosters and analyse whether the correct players were selected and who can feel aggrieved to have missed out (LANCE!).
All Star starters: LeBron James (Miami Heat), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
All Star reserves: Chris Bosh (Miami Heat), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers), Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets), Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks), Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Firstly, I don’t think there can be much argument with the starters. In what has been a poor Eastern Conference this season, those five have stood out. You could argue that Wade hasn’t played enough or that Kyrie is playing for a team that is under performing hugely but who would you replace them with?
With regards to the reserves, there is only one place to start, WHERE IS LANCE STEPHENSON!? He is playing for the best team in the East, he is averaging 14.2 ppg (2nd on team), 7.2 rpg (2nd on team), 5.4 apg (1st on team) whilst shooting 49.9% from the field (1st on team), he also leads the league in triple doubles with 4. I don’t understand how Joe Johnson gets in ahead of him, playing on a worse team and putting up worse numbers. You can only assume coaches have punished Stephenson for previous misdemeanour’s and for his history of having a bad attitude.
Of the other guys who have a claim to be on team I think Al Horford would be in if it wasn’t for his injury, probably in place of his teammate on the Hawks, Paul Millsap. He was playing great basketball and was a main reason why Atlanta was 3rd in the East when he got injured. Another guy who could, perhaps, have knocked a teammate off the list is Kyle Lowry. Since the Rudy Gay trade, Toronto have gone 18-9 and Lowry has averaged 18 ppg and 8 apg whilst being a real leader on that team. However, taking into account the role DeRozan has played in the turnaround I think the coaches made the right decision choosing him ahead of Lowry.
The only other argument, for me, is whether Joakim Noah deserves to be an All Star or whether Andre Drummond should be there in his place. They have comparable numbers, Noah is averaging 11.7 ppg and 11.4 rpg whilst Drummond is averaging 12.6 ppg and 12.7 rpg. However you have to say Noah is more important to the Bulls than Drummond is for the Pistons. Chicago also has a much better record than Detroit and all round Noah is a more complete player. Make no mistake though, Andre Drummond will be a multiple time All Star by the time he retires.
Changes I’d have made: IN – Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers), OUT – Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets)
All Star starters: Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Blake Griffin (LA Clippers), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
All Star reserves: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Dirk Nowitski (Dallas Mavericks), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Chris Paul (LA Clippers)
First things first, Kobe Bryant is starting the 2014 NBA All Star game. He has played 6 games this season. He is still injured and has already announced that he won’t be playing at All Star Weekend. This is the main problem with fan voting, it’s a popularity contest, it has nothing to do with who deserves to play. For me, Chris Paul should be starting in Kobe’s place. Yes, I recognise that Paul is also injured at the moment but he has played the majority of the season and is one of the top five players in the league.
I would replace Chris Paul in the reserves with Russell Westbrook, however he has also had a season ravaged by injury and, in my opinion, hasn’t played enough games. Therefore I would say that DeMarcus Cousins deserves that spot. Whilst he has also gone down injured, (doesn’t it seem like more players get injured now?) he has played 40 games and is averaging 22.6 ppg and 11.6 rpg. Those numbers stack up against any big man in the league and he seems to have gotten over (to some extent) the attitude problems that plagued his first few years in the NBA.
Of the other West reserves, you have to say 5 out of the remaining 6 are nailed on All Stars. Aldridge, Harden, Howard, Lillard and Parker. I feel the final spot in the reserves came down to Dirk Nowitski, Tim Duncan and Anthony Davis. In my opinion, Tim Duncan’s chances are hurt by the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are such a good team. Now that may sound ridiculous, but the Spurs rely on a greater numbers of players to play extensive minutes than any other team. Eight San Antonio players averaged over 20 minutes per game and I find it difficult to select Duncan as a result of that.
Therefore I make it a straight shootout between Dirk and Unibrow. Nowitski is averaging 21.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg and shooting 48.3% from the field. Davis is averaging 20.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.3 bpg (1st in NBA) and shooting 51.9% from the field. Looking at those stats alone you have to say that Davis has the edge. However the Dallas Mavericks have a much better record than the disappointing New Orleans Pelicans. Despite this I honestly believe that individuals not teams deserve acknowledgement at All Star Weekend. All Star is an individual accolade and has nothing to do with team success, therefore I would pick Davis over Nowitski.
Changes I’d have made: STARTER IN – Chris Paul (LA Clippers), IN – DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), IN – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) OUT – Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers), Dirk Nowitski (Dallas Mavericks)