First Year All-Stars (Reserves):
I’m happy that these players made the All-Star game. Great players on great teams.
Aldridge has deserved it since last season, so he was a shoe-in to make it this year with his improved play. Marc Gasol has been a defensive anchor for the Memphis Grizzlies team who has been fairly successful without Zach Randolph. Andre Iguodala is the best perimeter defender for the #1 defense in the league, and he can throw down with great power and awe, perfect for the All-Star Game. Luol Deng is clearly the 2nd best player on one of the best teams in the league. Hibbert holds down the middle on a great defensive Pacers team and all of his numbers have gone up this past season.
I’m also gonna give some love to Andrew Bynum who will be a 1st time All-Star playing as a starter. Putting up some great numbers for the Lakers.
Congrats to all of these 1st time All-Stars, they all deserve it.
The NBA All-Star starters were announced Tuesday, voted in by the fans. (Also, the jerseys were revealed today, as seen above. Not bad at all). Just to recap the starters:
Fair enough. All of these players are deserving of All-Star nods. You can replace Carmelo with Chris Bosh as a starter, though, and you can argue that either Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge can start in place of Blake Griffin, but the game is for the fans who want to see explosive plays. No surprises here.
Though I was spot on with the starters in my Season Preview, the All-Star reserves will be a different story. They will be revealed next week, February 9th on TNT, chosen by the league coaches. One-third of the way through the season, players have gotten injured, have been better than expected, or have been worse than expected. Here’s my re-evaluation of the reserves:
First Guard: Russell Westbrook - He was basically a shoe-in for the team. He’s the only other point guard who really stood a chance against Chris Paul to be a starter. Not only is he a beast on the court who can score, but he is a lot of fun to watch.
Second Guard: Tony Parker - With Ginobili’s injury, Parker’s been doing a great job keeping San Antonio in their winning ways. The Spurs may be old, but Parker is only 29; still in his prime.
First Forward: Kevin Love - Is there any doubt that Love is an All-Star? His stats alone make him an All-Star, but the fact the has great fundamentals, can space the floor, can shoot the three, and is a good passer puts him over the rest. Plus, he was an All-Star last year that only got better.
Second Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge - He was the biggest snub from last season’s All-Star game, and is playing even better this season being the main focus of the Blazers’ offense. Great post game and midrange game and is a big part to the Blazers’ winning record. He’s getting in this year.
Center: Marc Gasol - His numbers may not show this, but Gasol is a huge reason why the Grizzlies have been winning. He has done a good job picking up some scoring and rebounding slack left when Zach Randolph went down with injury, and he’s been anchoring their defense. All-in-all, he is one hell of a player.
Wild Card 1: Ty Lawson - This spot could have gone to Steve Nash, Kyle Lowry, or Ricky Rubio, but I’m sticking with Lawson. The Nuggets deserve an All-Star with their record, and they’re winning with great team play. If I had to choose anyone, I’m going with their point guard.
Wild Card 2: Dirk Nowitzki - Like the other Wild Card spot that I saved for a guard, this spot could’ve gone to Paul Millsap, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, or Nene, but this pick is mostly out of respect. The Mavs are winning (top in Southwest division) and it would be a shame if the reigning Champions didn’t have a player in the game.
Key Injury Replacements aka Showing Some Love: Paul Millsap is possibly the most underrated player in the league and he’ll be this year’s Aldridge. Steve Nash may be old (almost 38), but he’s the league’s leader in assists and is still great. Danilo Gallinari deserves recognition for being the top scorer on a great Denver team.
First Guard: Rajon Rondo - He may be injured, but he’ll be coming back soon and he’s still one of the top playmakers in the league.
Second Guard: Joe Johnson - Al Horford went down early in the season, but the Hawks are tied with the Heat in the standings (going 9-2 since the injury). Joe Johnson is a huge part of that, and he’s also been an All-Star, which should help him.
First Forward: Chris Bosh - He’s playing much better this year, finding his role under Lebron and Wade. In spite of this, he’s still doing a great job scoring and pulling his weight when Wade was out with injury. If anything, he probably should start above Carmelo.
Second Forward: Josh Smith - Finally time for Josh Smith to become an All-Star, right? He’s probably been the biggest snub for years now, and finally has a chance this year. He’s also played very well since Horford’s injury, being a big part of wins.
Center: Roy Hibbert - Hibbert has finally gotten to that point where everyone expected him to be in the past couple seasons. He’s a tough player who’s been giving great production on the offense and on the boards.
Wild Card 1: Andre Iguodala - A great thing about Iguodala is that he can fit as either a guard or forward. A greater thing is how his play is a huge part to the Sixers’ success this season. In the #1 defensive team in the league, he’s their best perimeter defender. He also does a little bit of everything very well, as well as gives nightly highlight plays.
Wild Card 2: Deron Williams - I’m giving this to D-Will in spite of how poorly the Nets have been playing. His shooting’s down and his turnovers are up, but I blame this mostly on the lack of talent around him. Otherwise, he’s still an amazing player who can turn it on at any time. He just needs a guy like Dwight.
Key Injury Replacements aka Showing Some Love: I was this close to giving away D-Will’s spot to Ray Allen because he’s been shooting very well, but I can’t reward the Celtics’ play with two All-Stars. Kyrie Irving has shown why he was chosen #1 in the draft by exceeding everyone’s expectations. Greg Monroe deserves some talk because he’s putting up great numbers… it’s a shame he’s on the Pistons.
Also some names to note:
I’ll stop here because I know if I don’t stop, I’ll just keep typing names that won’t deserve it. Let’s see who the coaches choose in a week….
Late last week, Chris Sheridan reported the 19 NBA Players that would be on Team USA’s Preliminary Roster for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. It’s old news at this point, but I wanted to weigh in with my opinions. I like writing and I love basketball, so I’m going for it.
Here’s the 20 player roster:
Of course, only 12 of these players will make the final roster and become Olympians, so 7 great and talented players will have to be cut. Who’s likely to make it? Either way, players from both the 2008 Olympics and 2010 FIBA World Championships will be watching from their TV screens. Here’s my depth chart of who I think will make the team:
Guard: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade
Forward: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love
Center: Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh
That makes 7 players from the 2008 Olympic team, 4 players from the FIBA World Championship team, and 1 who was on neither.
Choosing a 3rd point guard was tough, but I decidedly gave it to Billups for one main reason: veteran leadership. He’d play a similar role to what he did in Turkey and what Jason Kidd did in Beijing, something both (relatively) young PGs like Westbrook and Williams can’t bring. The third point guard roster spot wouldn’t get many minutes anyway coming behind Paul and Rose, so that experience will be key.
Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, and Tyson Chandler are all players I really liked in the FIBA Championships, but their talents (Gordon’s shooting and Iguodala’s lock down defense) can already be found in better players like Kobe, Lebron, and Dwight and thus are expendable.
A glaring absence from my list is obviously Blake Griffin, but I couldn’t put him in over Kevin Love. In my opinion, though Blake is a great and electrifying player, Love is the better Power Forward, especially for international play. Both players do two things very well: score and rebound, and both are decent passers for their position. The difference, though, is Love’s jump shot. He will be able to space the floor from the perimeter, which should be better for Dwight Howard anyway. Blake’s jumper simply isn’t there.
In spite of his play so far this season, Lamar Odom was tough to leave out. The versatility a team gets out of him is matched by basically no one, so you can make the case that he can take a spot over LaMarcus Aldridge. The biggest reason why I chose LMA over Odom, though, was simply because Aldridge is a much better player. He will be an All-Star this season.
The biggest issue may just be who starts at the point guard spot. Lebron, Durant, and Dwight are easy locks for their starting positions, and Wade came off the bench behind Kobe in 2008, so that shouldn’t be a problem, but who will Mike Krzyzewski choose as the starting guard? You can easily argue for either Chris Paul or Derrick Rose to start at point. Both are great passers with great basketball IQ, and they both know their roles of when to score. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
I also have Aldridge and Bosh under the Center spot in the depth chart because international basketball tends to play smaller. Those two players, as well as Love, can all easily slide into the center spot and play alongside one another whenever Dwight needs a break. So technically they’re Forward/Centers.
And my biggest snub from the 19 man roster? Andrew Bynum. Besides Dwight, there is no other Center as dominant in the league as Bynum, and I’m guessing the low amount of games he’s played thus far has affected his absence on the roster. He would most likely take the place of either Aldridge or even Bosh in my opinion.
So that’s my two cents. What are your thoughts? Do you disagree with any of my picks?
The guys over at The Basketball Jones are making rounds throughout the States (and eventually back to Toronto) on tour during this time of the lockout. When they stopped at Portland, they hit up LaMarcus Aldridge’s charity game and had a little fun with their interviews.
Everyone knows that Ron Artest is now Metta World Peace, so Skeets and Tas decided to ask the players there if they were to change their names, what would they change them into? Some of these guys hit gold with comedy (and who would’ve thought Josh Howard was a Fleetwood Mac fan?).
Yup, this is some of the more interesting stuff happening in the NBA right now. This lockout needs to end.