NBA All-Star Game 2012: Kevin Love and 7 Players Who Deserve to Be Starters

Luke CraneCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2012

NBA All-Star Game 2012: Kevin Love and 7 Players Who Deserve to Be Starters

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    The starting lineups have been announced for the 61st NBA All-Star Game on February 26th at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Both rosters are loaded with big-name star players: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron JamesDwight Howard, Blake Griffin and, of course, Kobe Bryant.

    Both the East and the West look strong, but a case could be made for at least another eight players who deserve to start, none more so than forward Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Love may not make the highlight reel every night, but this season he's averaged 25 points and 13.5 rebounds per game to lead all forwards in both categories. If the All-Star players were selected on points scored alone, Love deserves to start purely on merit.

    Starting the 2011-12 season with 15 straight double-doubles and dominating defenses should have also earned Love a place on the starters roster.

    Love is not the only player who has a legitimate claim to be a starter. Here are seven others who can also consider themselves unlucky to not be starting the NBA All-Star Game.

PF LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

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    LaMarcus Aldridge is another who's had a great season. The Trail Blazers center has carried the depleted Northwest Division team so far this year.

    He is only behind Kevin Love in points scored (22.8 PPG) for forwards and centers in the NBA. When compared against all scorers in the NBA, Aldridge is seventh. If the Blazers make the playoffs this season, it will be due to Aldridge.

    Aldridge leads the Blazers by example. His hard work and no-nonsense style may go unnoticed by those who don't have the Portland club on their radar.

    His fans, who claim that he has been overlooked due to playing for one of the less-fashionable teams, may have a point.  

PG Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The former UCLA star can consider himself unlucky not to be included in the All-Star Game. Westbrook has been in fantastic form all season with the Western Conference-leading Thunder. He's second only to Derrick Rose in points scored for all point guards with 21.8 points per game, and this is with Oklahoma teammate Kevin Durant scoring 27.0 points per game alongside him.

    Westbrook is sure to be a fixture in future All-Star Games, but he certainly wouldn't look out of place in the red jerseys of the West later this month. He may get the chance to prove his worth in this year's finals if the Thunder can carry their intensity and form into the playoffs. 

PF Chris Bosh, Miami Heat

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    After all the hoopla and attention of last season, this term has seen the Miami Heat make most of their noise with big wins and strong performances.

    Chris Bosh is the only one of the Miami Big Three not to have been selected for the All-Star Game this year, but he has been averaging 20 points per game and has quietly been getting on with the task of scoring baskets and winning games. 

    The Heat have missed Wade and James due to injury for parts of this season. Bosh has more than managed to make up for the loss of these two superstars by keeping the Eastern Conference side challenging for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

    When Bosh, James and Wade are all on the court together, they look better than last season and have to be the favorite to get to the finals, though the Chicago Bulls might have something to say about that.   

SF Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

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    The Celtics have been hitting their form lately, and that is in no small part due to Pierce's return from injury. Their Big Three had been looking old and uninterested as they couldn't compete against younger, faster and more athletic teams, but now they appear to have got their game together back behind the scoring form of their captain.

    Pierce has been averaging 18.5 points per game while playing only 33.6 minutes a night this season. The Celtics offense has also been without Rajon Rondo for the last few games with an injury, though he did return last night with his wrist strapped.

    With the Eastern Conference side missing its best playmaker, the fact that Pierce has been scoring so many points is remarkable.

    The East has so many good players that it's impossible to fit them all into one team, but statistically Pierce is the best SF in the East and is therefore worthy of a place in the All-Star Game.  

PG Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    Tony Parker seems to have fallen out of favor with fans around the NBA these days, but the Spurs point guard continues to score points, make plays and keep the Southwest team flying high in the Western Conference.

    This season, Parker has averaged 17.1 points and 7.6 assists per game to keep the aging Spurs in contention for a playoff spot and even a possible No. 2 seed. There has been no let-up in the play of this three-time NBA champion; his appetite for the game hasn't diminished one bit.

    Parker is one of several point guards who is unfortunate to miss out. Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio are some of the others who can count themselves unlucky not to be starting in the NBA All-Star Game. 

G Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors

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    With 21.5 points per game, it's easy to see how so many wondered if Ellis would get a starting role in this year's All-Star Game. The Warriors' speedy guard may play for one of the less-television-friendly sides, but his ball-handling makes for suitable viewing.

    With teammates Stephen Curry and David Lee, Ellis and the Pacific Division side should make the playoffs this year.

    Maybe the one thing that has counted against Ellis this year has been his 3.6 turnovers per game, but that is still better than LeBron James with 4.1 and Kevin Durant with 3.8.

PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

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    With the hangover from last season now firmly behind them, the Mavericks are starting to play like a championship side again. Dirk Nowitzki has only been averaging 16.9 points per game this season compared to 23.0 points last season, but when it comes to All-Stars, there aren't many bigger than the seven-foot German superstar.

    The Mavericks power forward has had to manage this season without the supply of great passes for Jason Kidd, but everything still goes through Nowitzki. His points per game will rise as the season continues.

    The All-Star Game is a great treat for basketball fans with so many big-name stars being on the court at the same time. While all the players selected are worthy of a starting place in Orlando, the eight featured here can count themselves as unfortunate to miss out.

    Any other year they would probably feature in the starting rotation, but the NBA has so many great players that fans will get to witness a fantastic All-Star Game in February no matter who starts.