Jeremy Lin and 6 Unlikely All-Star Candidates in 2013
For me, watching the NBA All-Star selection show on TNT has become a favorite pastime. I find it intriguing how Sir Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Co. break down who made the cut. I am especially enthused by when they discuss who deserved to make the team and who did not.
The following list is not a who’s who of perennial All-Stars but they are players which I can see making the team next season. For one reason or another, these six players will have the spotlight on them in some capacity.
It is not completely inconceivable to think that either or all of these players could make the All-Star team for the first time in their career.
Tyson Chandler has come a long way from being the second pick in the 2001 NBA draft. He was considered a bust then but looking at how far he has come, it would not surprise me if Chandler starts for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game.
Chandler is a NBA champion and an Olympic gold medalist. Being part of the 2012 Men’s Olympic team has helped raise his popularity so much that I could see him being voted in by the fans. The fact that Dwight Howard has been traded to the LA Lakers helps Chandler’s case.
What is unconventional about Chandler is what also should help him. He is purely a defensive player, and defense should be recognized.
Irving was the runaway NBA Rookie of the Year last season, and I felt that he was robbed of an All-Star reserves spot.
Like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook before him, the NBA game seemed so easy for Irving. He looked poised as not only a passer and scorer but a leader as well.
Cleveland is expected to contend for a playoff spot and that helps Irving’s case but the ACL injury to Rose almost solidifies it.
What Irving must do is get back to what helped him win the R.O.Y. award and keep the Cavaliers near the .500 mark.
If those scenarios happen, then the only thing that will keep Irving from nabbing a slot is a better season from another player. Irving also has to bounce back from his broken hand.
Mysterious injuries be damned, the injury bug that clouded Gordon’s first season with the New Orleans Hornets kept him from ascending to the top of the NBA star list.
Gordon’s talent is so undeniable that it would be hard not consider him for an All-Star nod if the Hornets have a good record.
We all know that Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Westbrook will have three of the guard spots for the All-Star team, but who fills the other two possible slots?
Eric Gordon could take one of those spots with a good and healthy season. The real hindrance for Gordon would be who gets credited for a Hornets good first-half more, Gordon or rookie Anthony Davis?
Talking about the case for Eric Gordon’s All-Star possibilities, one has to believe that Harden takes one of the other guard spots after Kobe, Nash and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Westbrook.
I have warned fans before to fear the beard in a previous article, Harden was underwhelming in his NBA finals debut. That should serve as a learning experience just as much as being on the 2012 Men’s Olympic team.
It is hard to explain Harden’s impact without comparing him to San Antonio’s Manu Ginobli, which is why he has a shot. What works against Harden is the fact that barring injuries, two of his Thunder teammates, Kevin Durant and the aforementioned Westbrook, will have spots locked in.
Can you see a scenario where one-half of the Western Conference All-Star team would be represented by two teams?
The Houston Rockets have been craving for some star power for quite some time. Jeremy Lin may not be a basketball star but, he does have star power qualities.
For the New York Knicks, Lin became only the 15th player to score 20 points, hand out seven assists and collect a steal in six consecutive games since 1985.
For the Rockets I do not expect gaudy statistics from Lin. What I expect is steady play as he learns the game from Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale, who has a few tricks up his sleeve to teach Lin.
The possibility of Lin becoming an NBA All-Star is quite great, provided that he stays healthy. You have to consider the Yao Ming factor and the power of the NBA fans with Lin. The fans were loyal to Yao as I tend to believe that they will do the same for Lin.
Joakim Noah was considered by many as the second-best center in the Eastern Conference. Those who never bought in to the idea that Al Horford is a center, that is.
Noah, as a double-double machine, has been close to being named as an All-Star reserve a couple of times. I am a firm believer that his sluggish start this past season cost him a bid just as much as injuries robbed him the season prior to that.
Not one center in the East has gained more with Howard traded out of the conference than Noah has. He is popular amongst the fans already and not having to contend with Howard voters helps Noah so much.
If the Chicago Bulls surprise the NBA and has a record more than six games over .500 and Noah is averaging 13-14 points, 13 rebounds a game, he could be a shoo-in.
The Other Guys
There were some other players left out of the list but were not completely forgotten about. Here are some players who could surprise us with great seasons that would get the respect from their peers and coaches alike.
Josh Smith – Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson’s exit should open the door for Smith.
Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets must get some kind of respect for having a good season.
Kirk Hinrich – Chicago Bulls: If Hinrich leads the Bulls to a good first half, he must be considered.
Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns: Dragic has begun to turn the corner and he should thrive in his Phoenix return.
John Wall – Washington Wizards: The injury to Rose opens the door for Wall as wide as anyone.
Greg Monroe – Detroit Pistons: There were a few whispers about Monroe making the team last season; he might make things interesting.
Paul Milsap – Utah Jazz: It would be a well-deserved honor for Milsap who has had a good NBA career thus far.