Pierce (left) is making a claim to add another All-Star selection to his resume.
After having only two players chosen for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, the Boston Celtics now have five players nominated on the ballot for this season’s contest. All indications point to an increase in All-Star Game participants for the team this time around.
There’s a good chance the Celtics might even snag a starting spot or two.
Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Jason Terry represent Boston on the ballot, which consists of 120 players from around the league—60 from each conference.
The list was put together by a panel of media who follow the NBA closely.
Starting lineups for each conference are determined entirely by fan voting. Fans get to choose a full lineup, which includes three frontcourt players and two backcourt players. This marks the first season that the NBA has completely eliminated the center position from voting.
The balloting, which began in November, is set to conclude on January 14. The starters for each conference will be announced on January 17, with the remaining roster to be chosen by votes cast by the coaches.
How many All-Stars will Boston have this season?
Fans of the Celtics have to be feeling optimistic after the release of the first All-Star ballot results.
Both Garnett (218,246 votes) and Rondo (382,613) were among those in the projected starting lineup for the Eastern Conference. LeBron James (641,348), Carmelo Anthony (573,112) and Dwyane Wade (430,925) filled out the rest of the spots.
While Rondo’s spot looks all but locked—Deron Williams is the next-closet vote-getter at 211,426—Garnett’s is still very much up for grabs. Chris Bosh only trails the 17-year veteran by approximately 7,500 votes.
Pierce is a good way behind the leaders with 114,735 votes and will have to settle for what will more than likely be a reserve spot.
Terry and Green were not as fortunate.
Green currently ranks No. 15 among frontcourt voting, only receiving 36,080 votes. On the other hand, Terry ranks No. 8 among backcourt voting, only receiving 36,147 votes.
Both players have a lot of work to do if they hope to take part in the February festivities in Houston.
In order to gauge the odds that each player will make the team, we need to take into consideration his current positioning in the voting, the level of opposition he will be going up against and his current level of play.
Let’s get started.
Green has had a very solid comeback season for Boston thus far.
In 25 games this year, Green has averaged 9.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 22.4 minutes a night. Furthermore, he’s shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.
But is he All-Star game worthy?
The answer is no.
To put it simply, Green has been largely inconsistent this season.
After scoring 15-plus points in five of his first six games of December, Green has failed to score more than 10 in each of his last four. That includes back-to-back games where he only managed three points, shooting 2-of-10 in those games.
Whether it’s not enough time on the court, or the fact that he is still recovering from missing an entire season, Green is not the player he once was.
Not to mention, the 26-year-old will be going up against some monster competition.
If the current voting stands, Green will be competing against the likes of Pierce, Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Josh Smith and Anderson Varejao for three spots on the bench.
Both Bosh and Varejao are essentially locks for two of those positions. For the final spot, it will likely come down between Pierce and Smith.
Also working against Green is the fact that the six players listed above average 35.1 minutes per game, which makes it awfully difficult for someone who averages just above 20 minutes a night to seriously compete.
Better luck next year.
Terry has fluctuated all over the place for the Celtics this season. Head coach Doc Rivers seems to be struggling to find a role for the 13-year veteran.
As a result, Terry’s stats have been struggling as well.
Through 25 games this season, Terry is averaging 11.4 points, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game. All three averages serve as the worst marks of his career.
Oddly enough, Terry has still proved to be quite productive for Boston—even if his stat line does not back it up.
A chart utilized by B/R’s Matthew Schmidt puts Terry’s worth into perspective.
Looking at the chart, the Celtics’ top-three lineup combinations, in reference to win percentage, include Terry. Furthermore, only one combination that excludes him has a positive plus-minus. Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
However, the one thing that will keep Terry out of Houston is his competition.
If you’re an opposing defender, going against Kyrie Irving is a frightening task. Try battling him for one of just two backcourt positions on the roster.
Throwing in Deron Williams, Monta Ellis, Raymond Felton and Brandon Jennings just makes it seem downright cruel.
Unfortunately for Boston fans, this is not the year Terry will earn his first All-Star honors.
If there was any doubt whether Pierce could still perform, Wednesday night’s 40-point performance—on 13-for-16 shooting—should put all that to rest.
The 35-year-old can still play.
Through 25 games this season, Pierce is averaging 20.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. He currently ranks No. 9 in the league in scoring. Furthermore, Pierce has not put together a similar stat line since before Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived in Boston.
Sure, his shooting (43.6 percent) may be suffering—in fact, it is his worst mark since 2003-04—but Pierce is still able to score with the best of them.
The fact that Pierce can still drop 20 points a night after 14 years in the league is worthy of recognition alone.
But while Pierce is currently No. 6 in fan voting among frontcourt players, the reserve spots will be decided on by the coaches. Some coaches might see Pierce’s rising shot attempts per game—16.4 in December—as a sign of selfishness and poor shot selection.
However, Pierce’s chances are still looking good.
Can you pick three players playing at a higher level than Pierce out of a selection of Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Josh Smith and Anderson Varejao?
Say what you want about Garnett’s age, but the guy is still having a big impact during his 18th year in the league.
His stat line may be modest—15.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game—but his contributions are not.
For starters, his 53.5-percent shooting from the floor ranks as the second-highest output of his career. It also currently ranks No. 7 in the league among centers.
However, Garnett has made the biggest impact on the defensive end.
When Garnett is on the floor, the Celtics are allowing opponents 93.2 points per 100 possessions. At the same time, the team is scoring 102.0 points per 100 possessions. That leaves Boston with an 8.8 points per 100 possessions advantage over their opponents.
Conversely, when Garnett is off the floor, the Celtics have allowed 111.1 points per 100 possessions, while scoring 101.1 points per 100 possessions. That’s a 10 points per 100 possessions disadvantage against opponents.
That gives Garnett an incredible difference of 18.8. It goes to show the worth he still has to an NBA team after all this time.
In all honestly, the question is not whether or not Garnett will make the All-Star team. It’s more a question of whether or not he will be in the starting lineup.
As of now, everything’s looking good on that front.
If it were not for the play of Rondo, who knows where Boston would be right now.
Yes, he’s been that good.
Through 22 games this season, Rondo is averaging 13.8 points, 12.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game in 37.6 minutes a night. All four averages serve as career-high marks. He currently leads the league in assists, while also leading all point guards in rebounds.
Rondo has really begun to take his game to another level this season.
One aspect he has really improved on is his shooting.
A career 48.3 percent shooter, Rondo is currently shooting at a career-high rate of 51.6 percent this season. He ranks No. 1 among point guards in that category. Furthermore, Rondo’s 5.8 field goals made per game is also a career high.
In years past, the knock on Rondo was his weak jump shot. Now what’s his weakness?
Rondo is sitting comfortably in one of the two starting positions allotted for backcourt players. Even in the off chance that he were to be surpassed in the fan vote, Rondo is a 100-percent lock to be chosen as a reserve.
You can bank on seeing Rondo in Houston.
Stats used in this article were accurate as of December 20, 2012
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