Ryan Anderson and Joel Anthony
The NBA All-Star reserves were released late Thursday night on TNT, and the league's best talent will be meeting in Orlando on February 26 for the classic East vs. West battle.
Despite many well-deserving players selected to the squads, there are, like always, a few notable exclusions from the roster.
Despite playing on an Orlando Magic team that is in complete disarray due to the complexity of the Dwight Howard situation, Anderson has thrived in his new role as starting power forward.
The 23-year-old former University of California star is averaging career-highs across the stat board. Anderson is putting up over 16 points and seven boards per game—not bad for a player who didn't even know if he would receive the opportunity to start at the beginning of the season.
When looking over the reserve forwards for the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, there is only one player who is far and away more deserving of a spot than Anderson. This player is, of course, Chris Bosh, who is averaging a fantastic 19.2 points and nearly eight boards per game.
However, one could definitely make the case that the other forwards, including Chicago's Luol Deng, Boston's Paul Pierce and the 76ers' Andre Iguodala, are less deserving than Anderson.
Does Ryan Anderson deserve to be on the All-Star team?
Luol Deng, who is having his best season to date, is putting up stats similar to Anderson, as the former University of Duke star is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per night.
Sure, Deng is playing efficient basketball for the Bulls, but the inclusion of the eight-year veteran brings the Eastern Conference's number of small forwards to four. The East team only has one power forward—Anderson's position—compared to the Western Conference's four.
The only reason Paul Pierce was added to the roster was because the former Kansas Jayhawk has been a star in this league for years now. In other words, his history in the NBA was why he was added to the roster.
Not only is he having an off-year by his standards, but the Boston Celtics have been a mediocre team at best. There is no doubt that Anderson easily could have been substituted in on the squad for Pierce, as the "The Truth" is averaging only 18 points per game.
The last forward, Andre Iguodala, is absolutely deserving of an All-Star spot, but at the expense of NBA Most Improved Award candidate Ryan Anderson?
Sure, Iggy is leading a talented Philadelphia 76ers squad to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, but his stats are considerably inferior to those of Ryan Anderson.
Iguodala is averaging only 13 points per game, while shooting a decent 45 percent from the field. Though Iguodala is an excellent leader, is he really All-Star caliber?
In the end, this is a huge blow for a young player looking for respect across the NBA.
“It’s a league full of respect," said Anderson, "and I’m in the process of doing all I can in earning that respect.”