All-Star Starters Announced, All-Star Reserves DebatedThe NBA All-Star starters were officially announced during TNT's one hour pregame show on Thursday. In case you missed it, leading vote getter Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Jason Kidd will start for the East, while Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson will start for the West. It is difficult to see how anyone could have a serious objection about the East choices. In the West, I'd give the nod to Dirk Nowitzki over Anthony and I'd take Chris Paul over Iverson. Some people get all worked up about who the fans pick but starting in the All-Star Game is largely a ceremonial honor; if you look in the NBA Register, no indication is given about whether a player started an All-Star Game or was selected as a reserve. The only problem that could arise with fan voting is if a player who does not even deserve to make the team gets selected but I honestly cannot ever remember that happening. Over the years, we've seen Dan Issel get a starting nod over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A.C. Green get more votes than Karl Malone, but Issel and Green were worthy All-Stars and Abdul-Jabbar and Malone still made the team as reserves. Basketball fans deserve the right to choose who will start in what is, after all, an exhibition game, and they have not abused this opportunity, unlike fans in some other sports in years past who stuffed the ballot box for hometown favorites who did not belong in the All-Star Game.
Selecting the seven All-Star reserves--a task assigned to the coaches, who cannot vote for anyone from their own teams--in each conference is never easy because there are never enough spots for all of the deserving candidates. Another problem is that two forwards, two guards, one center and two wild cards are supposed to be chosen but in some years one position is more stacked than another. TNT commentators Magic Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley offered their choices during the telecast (the coaches' selections will be revealed next Thursday during another one hour TNT pregame show). We'll look at the Eastern Conference first. As usual, Barkley did not exactly adhere to the guidelines, picking "nobody" as his center; his other choices were Caron Butler, Chris Bosh, Chauncey Billups, Hedo Turkoglu, Ray Allen and Antawn Jamison. Magic and Kenny also disregarded the requirement to choose a center, though they did at least designate seven players. Smith was under the weather and did not appear on the set, while Johnson said that Bosh was his center. They each agreed with Barkley about Butler, Bosh and Billups and they both picked Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Joe Johnson and Antawn Jamision completed Magic's choices, while Kenny went for Ray Allen and Shaq. Butler, Bosh, Billups and Pierce are no-brainers in my opinion. Admittedly, there is not a lot to choose from at center after Howard but I would take Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a player who rebounds, can score inside or outside and who maximizes his height and length to compensate for his lack of explosiveness. Richard Hamilton and Antawn Jamison complete my ballot. Ray Allen is putting up his worst scoring and shooting numbers in years; the decline in scoring is part of being on a balanced, winning team but the decline in shooting percentage is worrisome. Michael Redd and Joe Johnson are putting up numbers for sub-.500 teams; they are quality players but their numbers aren't great enough to warrant taking them over players who are getting it done for winning teams.
In the West, Magic, Kenny and Barkley agree on Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Brandon Roy. Barkley then chose Tyson Chandler, David West, Marcus Camby and Stephen Jackson. Magic and Kenny agreed on Dirk Nowitzki and Amare Stoudemire, but Magic selected Chris Kaman and Baron Davis/Stephen Jackson (he couldn't choose between them) while Kenny liked Andrew Bynum and Carlos Boozer. In my opinion, Nash, Paul, Roy, Nowitzki, Boozer and Stoudemire are easy choices. What to do with that final wild card spot is vexing: there are many worthy candidates. After much deliberation, I am going with Baron Davis. In no particular order, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, David West and Josh Howard are having All-Star caliber years as well--and you could add Tracy McGrady to that list if he had not missed so many games due to injury.
It will be interesting to see what the coaches decide; they certainly do not have an easy task in front of them.
posted by David Friedman @ 6:18 AM