Handicapping San Antonio Spurs' Odds of Making the 2013 NBA All-Star Game
The 2013 NBA All-Star weekend is quickly approaching, and the San Antonio Spurs should find themselves right in the middle of it.
As a team overflowing with talent, the Spurs should find a select number of their stars chosen for the weekend's prestigious events, especially its most prominent competition—the All-Star game.
At least one member of the Spurs' squad has represented the Western Conference since 2000, and the upcoming year should be no different.
The Spurs have built up a reputation as one of the greatest teams in the Association, but the team's stars have built up quite a name for themselves individually as well.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the newest faces to appear in the Alamo city, but he has already manufactured a solid résumé. As one of last year's breakout rookies, the standout small forward has become a household name to any NBA fan for multiple reasons.
Whether it be because of his stellar defense, above-average three-point shooting, remarkable athleticism or an unparalleled work ethic, many are foreshadowing a bright future for the young star.
His 2012-13 campaign began as impressive as that of his rookie year, but was quickly thrown off course by a knee injury that sidelined him for over a month.
Since making his return on December 21, Leonard has returned to the starting lineup and picked up right where he left off. His recent 17 point, five-steal performance against the Dallas Mavericks may be an indication of his production as he matures, guaranteeing him a spot on an All-Star squad eventually.
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However, in this stage of his career, in addition to the substantial amount of time missed, Leonard's best chance of appearing in the weekend's festivities will be as a member of the Rising Stars Challenge.
While Leonard is one of the league's younger talents, the Spurs are known for their surplus of veterans. One of the most prominent is Manu Ginobili, the 35-year-old shooting guard.
Since arriving in San Antonio, the late second-round pick has garnered his fair share of fame as one of the league's most-renowned shooting guards.
Over the course of his 10-year career, the Argentinian marvel has been featured in two All-Star games as well as a pair of All-NBA teams.
However, age has troubled the former All-Star, and his 2011 appearance may be his last. Injury has plagued Ginobili in his later years, and the veteran has missed significant time on several occasions.
Averaging just over 11 points in about 24 minutes of play, the aging star is still a useful commodity to the team. However, despite making an appearance on the ballot, Ginobili remains a long-shot for the 2013 All-Star game.
Tony Parker is the Spurs most recent member to rep black and silver in the All-Star game, having been the team's lone member last year. His play last year was both impressive and surprising in what can be described as a career year.
The 30-year-old guard finished in the top five in terms of MVP voting at the end of the year, so an appearance in the All-Star game was a no-brainer when selecting reserves.
This year, Parker continues to amaze, averaging just over seven assists in addition to his 19.0 points per game. He continues to baffle opponents with his all-around attack, and he certainly deserves a spot on the Western Conference team.
Whether or not he'll be selected is another question.
In the NBA's first ballot results, Parker finished as the seventh top vote-receiver in his category.
He won't be a starter, but can definitely be selected as a reserve. Behind Bryant, Paul and Lin, is James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Steve Nash as the fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Parker sits about 50,000 votes behind Nash in seventh.
Simply put, Parker has a lot of competition.
Bryant and Paul are shoe-ins, even if one of them loses the starting job to Lin. Harden and Westbrook are also guaranteed a spot on the roster.
Nash—despite receiving votes—has a very slim chance considering his lengthy injury. Lin's performance this season has been sub-par, and he has no way lived up to the big stage he set for himself in New York.
Still, his popularity and international appeal give him an above-average shot at making the team. If he does catch Paul by the final tally, Parker's chances of being selected are slim.
Since 2010, the Western Conference has carried three reserve guards in addition to the two starters, and with Lin, Bryant, Paul, Westbrook and Harden, Parker narrowly misses the cut.
If, however, Lin fails to finish in the top two, he will be overlooked as a reserve candidate, allowing Parker to slide in with the final spot.
Parker deserves it, but his status remains a toss-up.
The Spurs' final ballot member is 36-year-old, Tim Duncan—one of the league's most well-known players.
Despite being in the final stages of his Hall-of-Fame worthy career, Duncan continues to amaze. Averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds, the veteran big man remains an elite force in the league.
In addition to his unquestioned production this season, Duncan is one of the most-respected players in the league, and it would be hard to imagine a coach passing on him as a reserve.
Although he did miss out on last year's festivities—for the first time since 1999—his play has improved significantly since then, and his statistics have spiked. Given his current production, Duncan is a virtual lock to make an appearance in Houston.
How many Spurs will make the All-Star team?
In the initial ballot results, Duncan finished fourth among Western Conference frontcourt players, behind only Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin—a substantial increase in comparison to last year's results, where he finished in seventh.
He may be old, but he remains one of the league's top big men and a guaranteed reserve for the Western Conference squad.
All stats are accurate as of December 25.
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