Philadelphia 76ers: Ranking the Chances of an All-Star Berth for Each Key Player
The NBA announced the starting lineups for the 61st annual NBA All-Star Game last week, and the usual suspects—Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard—got the nod for the Eastern Conference. The other seven spots on the team are selected by the league's 30 coaches, and the Philadelphia 76ers have a pretty decent chance of being represented in Orlando later this month.
It seems only fair; at 18-7, Philadelphia has one of the best records in the entire NBA. But working against them is the fact that they don't have a superstar, and superstars are the ones who typically get the All-Star nods, whether they deserve them or not.
Before this year's reserves are officially unveiled, let's take a look at each of the 76ers key players and rank their chances for an invitation to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.
Andre Iguodala: Very Good
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From a purely statistical standpoint, Andre Iguodala's numbers aren't going to raise many eyebrows. But defensively, Iguodala has frustrated opposing wing players all season long, a trait that may have punched his ticket to Orlando for this month's All-Star Game.
It works in Iguodala's favor that the league's coaches—who have a tendency to value defense rather highly—are entrusted to select the All-Star reserves. In the fan balloting that concluded last week, Iguodala failed to finish among the top-10 forwards in the Eastern Conference.
Strange, considering the fact that Iguodala's athleticism is just the type of thing that fans would normally clamor to see during All-Star weekend. Then again, Philadelphia has yet to be on national television this season, so the voters may not be all that familiar with the 76ers' versatile small forward. Look for that to change very soon, as Iguodala is likely to be named to the Eastern Conference squad.
Lou Williams: Good
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While Lou Williams doesn't even start for the 76ers, he could very well be the team's most important player.
Not just because he leads the team in scoring (which he does at 15.5 points per game). Not just because he's the team's de facto go-to option at the end of games (which he is). But because he's all of that and more.
Williams is the spark behind Philadelphia's "Night Shift," the 76ers' reserve unit that averages more than 44 points per night. And for that reason alone, he makes a very good case for being selected as one of the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves this season.
Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated wrote Monday that aside from the All-Star starters, "[n]o remaining guard in the East has had a bigger winning impact" than Williams, who will soon find out if he'll get his first-ever invite to the NBA's showcase event.
Spencer Hawes: Poor
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Injuries to both his back and his right Achilles forced Spencer Hawes to miss 11 games this season, effectively nullifying any chance that he had of representing the 76ers in this month's All-Star Game.
Aside from Indiana's Roy Hibbert and Detroit's Greg Monroe, Spencer Hawes has as good of an All-Star resume as any other Eastern Conference center who isn't named Dwight Howard. In the 14 games that he has played, Hawes is averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and is shooting better than 66 percent from the field.
If the All-Star reserves were picked two weeks from now, Hawes might have found himself down in Orlando later this month. Instead, he'll likely be at home with the rest of us.
Jrue Holiday: Poor
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Jrue Holiday's All-Star candidacy is intriguing in that he has a lot of positive buzz nationally, but most die-hard fans of the 76ers have seen nothing but inconsistency this season.
TNT's Chris Webber included Holiday in his list of reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but it's hard to make a case for the 76ers' 21-year-old point guard when two of his own teammates (Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams) have more impressive resumes.
Once Holiday nails down the nuances of the point guard position, he'll likely be a fixture at All-Star Weekend. However, that is down the road, and he still has a bit more learning to do.
Thaddeus Young: No Chance
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Thaddeus Young is the second-best forward on the 76ers, but he's filled the role of the team's "sixth man" with a fair amount of success this season (12.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG). That said, the chances that he'll beat out Indiana's Danny Granger, Atlanta's Josh Smith or Boston's Paul Pierce for a reserve forward spot in the East are next to impossible.
Young could probably put up All-Star type numbers as a starter on another team. But after signing a five-year extension this off-season, in appears as though the 6'8" forward be a part of Doug Collins' rotation for the foreseeable future. And while this year may be a longshot, there won't be anything preventing Young from making a run at the All-Star Game next season.
Elton Brand: No Chance
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Elton Brand is averaging a solid 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game but has no chance to be named to the Eastern Conference reserves for the All-Star Game this year.
After racking up double-doubles against the Hornets, Kings and Knicks during the first month of the season, it appeared as though Brand might be in line for a stellar campaign. But the grind of the NBA's compressed schedule has caught up to him, and he'll likely be nothing more than a complementary scorer—albeit a solid one—for the 76ers from here on out.