With the starters officially named for both conference all-star teams, it’s now on the league’s head coaches to select two backcourt, three frontcourt and two wild-card players to fill out the rosters.
All reserves will be officially announced this Thursday, January 24th.
Here are my picks for who should be selected to the Eastern Conference squad.
Holiday stats: 19.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 45.8% from the field, 36.8% from three-point range, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks
Irving stats: 23.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 45.9% from the field, 40% from three-point range, 1.7 steals, 0.4 blocks
The crop of worthy guards in the Eastern Conference this year is surprisingly weak, especially with Derrick Rose out of action and Deron Williams early season struggles with the Brooklyn Nets.
If not for Jrue Holiday, the Philadelphia 76ers would probably be a lot worse off than they already are, especially with Andrew Bynum still on the sidelines. He’s one of only two players in the entire league that’s averaging at least 19 points and 8 assists. He’s fourth in the conference in scoring and second in assists. That has to count for something. His improvement from 2011-12 to now has been remarkable, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him snag a few votes for NBA Most Improved Player when it’s all said and done as well.
Kyrie Irving missing 11 games doesn’t matter to me, and it shouldn’t matter to you. I also don’t buy into the notion that you can’t be an all-star if you play on a terrible team. That’s a stupid unwritten rule that needs to be immediately stricken from the coaches minds. Irving is the real deal, and frankly, he should have made the team last year. An all-star nod in 2013 will be the first of many, I assure you of that.
Chandler stats: 12.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 67.4% from the field, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 steals
Bosh stats: 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 54.5% from the field, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals
Noah stats: 12.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 45.5% from the field, 2.1 blocks, 1.3 steals
These three choices were pretty easy to make. In fact, I could probably make a reasonable enough case for any one of the three starting the game over Kevin Garnett (the fans voted him in, “sigh”).
Just to add, it looks like the frontcourt category eliminating true centers from the all-star game was overblown from the start, as all three of my picks are currently starting at the five spot for their respective teams.
Chandler makes my list not because he’s some sort of offensive powerhouse (even though he’s averaging a career-high 12.2 points), but because of everything else he does with and without the basketball. He’s an outstanding defender (2012 NBA Defensive Player of the Year), he can finish around the basket (only player in the league shooting at least 60% from the floor) and his presence on the court alone makes it easier for guys like Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith to get whatever they want on offense because you always have to account for him.
I suppose it’s easy to forget about Chris Bosh, considering his high-profile superstar teammates who both got voted in by the fans this season, but I’m not making that mistake this year. Sure, he’s not a great rebounder, but who is on the Heat these days? Shooting 54% from the field while mainly taking jumpers is quite the feat, as nearly one-third of his points come from mid-range. On any other team, Bosh would more than likely be putting up similar numbers to what he was producing during his Raptors days, so sacrificing his own statistical prowess for the good of his team is something I won’t hold against him.
A Chicago Bull has to make the all-star team, and I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than Joakim Noah. With Derrick Rose injured for a majority of the season, the team only find themselves three games out of first place in the conference with a record of 24-16. A lot of their success can be attributed to coach Tom Thibodeau and his defensive schemes, but taking into account the type of year Noah is having, I’m going to give him some credit too. He’s become a multi-faceted player, adding more and more to his repertoire by the day. He can defend, rebound, distribute the basketball and block shots.
Lopez stats: 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 51.7% from the field, 2.1 blocks, 0.6 steals
George stats: 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 42.4% from the field, 38.6% from three-point range, 1.7 steals, 0.7 blocks
This is where things get difficult.
Paul Pierce probably deserves a spot based on his numbers, but unfortunately for him, I didn’t feel the need for three Boston Celtics players (Garnett and Rajon Rondo were already voted in) considering the team isn’t near the top of the standings in the East.
J.R Smith is having a fantastic year, but I feel that Tyson Chandler has contributed to the success of the Knicks in more ways than Smith has. His coming off the bench also hurts him in my eyes as well, whether that’s fair or not.
I’m happy with my Paul George pick. He’s arguably the best defensive wing in the Eastern Conference outside of LeBron James, and without his stellar play, the Pacers could have easily been buried once Danny Granger hurt his knee. His numbers aren’t overly flashy, but he’s been very consistent over the past month and a half or so after starting the season off slowly. He’s the most valuable player on the Pacers (26-16, 3rd in east), and that’s good enough for me.
Only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul have better Player Efficiency Ratings this year than Lopez (25.2). After playing in just five games last season, Brook has returned in 2012-13 with a vengeance and instantly become the best offensive center in the conference. His rebounding (a huge knock against his game) has improved, his low-post defense has gotten better and he’s making better decisions with the basketball. Having so many centers on the team might be overkill, but I just couldn’t leave Lopez off of my list.
Remember, these are my picks for who should be named the reserves, not yours. No one is going to agree with every player I selected, but that just goes to show the amount of quality players in the East who have been playing at a high level these past three months. I would love to include more names, but thats just not possible. Every player that I snubbed would be as good a pick as anyone I selected, but I could only take seven guys.
Tags: Boston Celtics Brook Lopez Brooklyn Nets Chicago Bulls Chris Bosh Cleveland Cavaliers Indiana Pacers Joakim Noah Jrue Holiday Kyrie Irving Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks NBA All-Star Game 2013 New York Knicks Paul George Philadelphia 76ers