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 Western Conference squad.
Westbrook stats: 23.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 42.3% from the field, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks
Harden stats: 25.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 43.3% from the field, 1.9 steals, 0.5 blocks
There can be absolutely zero debate for the two backcourt spots, so don’t even try.
Russell Westbrook is the floor general for the best team in basketball (Thunder are 34-10). He ranks seventh in the league in points, fifth in assists and seventh in steals. He can be erratic at times running the point and try to do too much, but he’s still one of the most unguardable athletic points guards in the game today. With Harden out of the picture in OKC, more responsibility fell on Westbrook to be a facilitator AND a scorer, and he’s flourished in that role by increasing his assists nearly three a game (5.3-8.1). Kenny Smith actually forgot to put Russell on his potential reserves list when making his picks on “Inside The NBA” recently. Frankly, in my opinion, he should have started, but fan-voting prevented that. He’s one of only two players in the league averaging 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
The Houston Rockets aren’t taking the league by storm, but the presence of James Harden on that roster has kept the team’s playoff hopes alive (and made them obtainable). He’s gone from the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year to the fifth-leading scorer in the entire league. Harden could become just the fifth player in the last decade to average 25 points and five assists a game for an entire season if he maintains this pace. Besides, the All-Star game is in Houston. It would be a shame if not one Rocket player was represented on the team. James deserves it.
Duncan stats: 17.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 50.5% from the field, 2.7 blocks, 0.8 steals
Randolph stats: 16.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 48.3% from the field, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals
Lee stats: 19.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 52.2% from the field, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals
“Father Time” has yet to rear its ugly head with Tim Duncan. Averaging a near double-double at 36 years of age is quite an accomplishment in today’s game. He ranks 12th in the NBA in rebounding and fourth in blocks. The San Antonio Spurs are 34-11 and tied with the Thunder for first in the Western Conference. Much of that success can be attributed to the strong play of Duncan, who is having one of his best seasons in years. He deserves to be a starter over Dwight Howard, in my humble opinion.
With Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Kevin Love hurt for a majority of games so far into the season, it’s left a spot open for a deserving player like David Lee of the Golden State Warriors to crack the roster. Lee is just on the brink of being the only player in the league to average 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. No team in the NBA has been more surprising (from a wins standpoint, sorry Lakers) than the Warriors, who currently sit fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 26-15. With Andrew Bogut having yet to play a game for Golden State in 2012-13, the onus has been on David to rebound more and defend the post. He’s become the leader this young Warriors team needs.
It was a toss-up between Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol for this third frontcourt spot. I didn’t feel the need to give two Memphis players (even though the team is playing very well with a 27-14 record) a selection, so one deserving Grizzly was going to be unfortunately snubbed by me. Randolph was ultimately the guy I went with in the end. Zach is a better scorer while Gasol is the stronger defender, so I can’t really argue with anyone who would rather take Marc instead. His size and physicality down low make him one of the harder forwards to guard in the league when his back is to the basket. Again, you can’t go wrong with either man.
Curry stats: 20.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 46.4% from three-point range, 0.2 blocks, 1.6 steals
Parker stats: 19.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 51.9% from the field, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals
Two Golden State Warriors on the All-Star team? It’s true. Curry is finally staying healthy, averaging 20.7 points a game and leading the NBA in three-point shooting (46.4%). The wins speak for themselves. I’m giving him a spot.
Do you know what else speaks for itself? Tony Parkers numbers. He’s averaging nearly 20 points a night while dishing out seven assists and shooting lights-out from the field (52% from the field, 40% from behind the arc). He deserves just as much credit (if not more) for the Spurs winning ways as Duncan does.
I don’t understand this fascination with Jamal Crawford as a possible All-Star. He’s purely a scorer who barely shoots over 40% from the field. Charles Barkley believes Crawford has been the Clippers second-best player all year. Not a chance. I will leave him as a snub to humor those who believe he deserves a nod.
I had a very tough time with my snub of LaMarcus Aldridge. If I had an extra spot, he would certainly get in. His numbers alone warrant consideration (20.6 points, 8.8 rebounds), but I just couldn’t find it in me to take him over David Lee and Zach Randolph. I’d rather see at least one Memphis Grizzlies forward make the team, and Lee has been performing at such a high-level that I’d hate myself for excluding him. In a perfect world, there would be an eighth spot on the team so I could bring him aboard.
Serge Ibaka doesn’t give me that All-Star vibe, at least for now. He’s arguably the best pure shot-blocker in the NBA, and his strong work on the defensive end as helped the Thunder get to where they are now, but I don’t see it being his time just yet, with all due respect.
Topics: Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA All-Star Game 2013, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs