7 NBA Players on the 2013 All-Star Bubble
The 2013 NBA All-Star Game will go down in just over a month, and there is still no way to determine which of our favorite stars will or will not make the final rosters. Fans normally vote the players in, but this year is a bit different. Instead of voting by position, fans are voting on forwards and centers as "frontcourt" players and guards as "backcourt" men.
As a result, some of the league's better and talented players find themselves either on the bubble or getting the shaft in favor of superstars. As a fan who votes yearly, this burns me up.
Yes, the All-Star Game's point is to see all of the league's best players go against each other in the ultimate playground game, but whatever happened to having depth and/or secret weapons? This would make the game itself more fun to watch, and not just some meaningless contest taking place on a Sunday night.
That still does not take away from the fact that thanks to the new voting style, a small handful of players are straddling the border between a sure All-Star berth and getting the shaft. If you ask me, some of them shouldn't even be there.
No. 7: David Lee, Golden State Warriors
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2012-13 Stats: 19.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, .531 FG%
Players Competing With Him: Serge Ibaka, Tim Duncan
Lee has already been to one All-Star Game, in 2010, and he has continued to be a double-double machine this season for the revitalized Warriors. Unfortunately for him, getting a spot on the All-Star roster is no easy task, not this season or in any other season.
The former Florida Gator has the misfortune of playing in the highly competitive Western Conference, home to some of the league's best defensive forwards. Since fans are voting for frontcourt this year and not power forward and center, he could easily find himself on the outside looking in.
Yes, Lee is good, but is he as good as Dwight Howard? Is he as good as Tim Duncan? Fans will have to ask themselves that question as voting slowly starts to wrap up and the final rosters are eventually announced.
No. 6: Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
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2012-13 Stats: 16.9 PPG, 12 RPG, .503 FG%
Players Competing With Him: David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge
Randolph is 31 years old and has been to one All-Star Game in 2010, and has been enjoying the start of his second career this season. Normally a scorer who could hold his own in rebounding, Randolph has turned over a new leaf this year. Rather than score and act passively on defense, he is instead newly committed to going after every rebound and being a force in the paint.
Unfortunately for him, so are many other power forwards in the Western Conference. Yes, Randolph is talented, but his playing in a small market like Memphis definitely hurts him. The idea of voting for a frontcourt is only hurts his chances more.
Just the same, Randolph deserves to go to the All-Star Game this year. His new approach has the Grizzlies playing the best basketball of their entire existence, and it is time for him to receive a midseason reward.
No. 5: Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
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2012-13 Stats: 12.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 0.9 BPG, .694 FG%
Players Competing With Him: Chris Bosh, Josh Smith
Over the past few years, Tyson Chandler has blossomed into one of the league's most dominating centers. He is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and currently leads the league in field goal percentage.
However, despite having great size at 7'1", 240 pounds, he is not the elite shot blocker most would expect him to be. Given how he has to compete with big men who can also score outside the paint, the voting system this year truly does hurt him.
Look, I get it. Fans love offense, and guys like Chris Bosh and Brook Lopez provide plenty of it.
But that's not what Chandler is all about. He's a defense-first kind of guy, and there isn't much room for that at the All-Star Game. Barring a major push in his votes, don't be surprised if he makes the Eastern Conference roster by means of the coaches' decision.
No. 4: Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
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2012-13 Stats: 18.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.2 BPG, .525 FG%
Players Competing With Him: Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony
Lopez is 7'0", 265 pounds, but did not know how to use his size prior to this season. He was essentially a scoring center whose work on defense was subpar at best. Over his first four seasons, he averaged just 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Lopez's scoring and rebounding haven't changed much this season, but his shot blocking has gone through the roof. However, we once again come back to this year's voting system.
Were fans voting by position, per usual, Lopez would be a near shoo-in for the Eastern Conference. The landscape has changed at center now that Dwight Howard is in Los Angeles, and Lopez has indeed set himself apart from other players at the 5.
But the sad truth is that fans are voting for frontcourts and backcourts this year, and there are too many good players up front for Lopez to really set himself aside from the rest of the pack this year. He needs a surge in voting, and quickly too.
No. 3: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
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2012-13 Stats: 20.2 PPG, 6.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, .436 FG%, .452 3P%
Players Competing With Him: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, James Harden
Curry has been excellent this season and if voting were by position, he would be a near-lock for a spot on the All-Star team. However, the Western Conference has lots of talented guards, both at the point and at the 2, so his spot this year is anything but guaranteed.
What works against Curry is the fact that save for Warriors fans, not many people besides die-hard NBA fans know who he is. He's an excellent shooter who can play excellent defense to boot, which is extremely rare in the game today. He is also the unquestioned leader of his team and has played a phenomenal role in its resurgence this year.
Like so many others on this list, Curry needs to have some great games over the next month and up his vote count. He is in danger of being phased out by A-list superstars who usually get in as a formality (that's right, I'm talking to YOU, Kobe Bryant!), and should represent the Western Conference because he has helped make it more competitive.
More importantly, the guy is just fun to watch!
No. 2: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
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2012-13 Stats: 23.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, .467 FG%, .431 3P%
Players Competing With Him: Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, Dwyane Wade
Irving is only a second-year player, and he'll almost definitely take a trip to Houston on All-Star Weekend so that he can compete on the Sophomore team in the Rising Stars Challenge. He should also be on the Eastern Conference team simply because he has improved so much this season.
Irving's assist totals may seem low for a point man, but that is because he is a scoring point guard. If he had a more reliable go-to scorer alongside him in Cleveland, those numbers would probably be higher.
Right now, the fact of the matter is that the shallow point guard pool of the Eastern Conference means that there is really no reason he should not be named to the final roster. Unfortunately, he will likely be outdone by the great number of talented shooting guards.
The coaches may have a spot for him, but Irving just needs to keep on playing hard anyway. He deserves his All-Star nod, and will not get there without keeping up the hard work.
No. 1: Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
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2012-13 Stats: 12.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 2 SPG, .435 FG%
Players Competing With Him: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker
Regarding the All-Star Game, Lin is an interesting case. Fans hoped last year's "Linsanity" would follow him to Houston this season, but the Harvard grad got off to a slow start. He has turned things around as of late, but still is far below the level of fellow Western Conference point men like Chris Paul, Tony Parker and others.
Despite that, Lin in the All-Star Game would be great because it is in Houston this year, and Rockets fans would flock to come watch him play. Unfortunately, unless some of last year's lightning comes back and Lin has a great stretch with a subsequent voting surge, he's probably not going to make the final roster.
Even worse is that Lin cannot bank on the coaches to bring him aboard either, as there are plenty of better point guards ahead of him who may also not make the cut via voting (i.e. Ty Lawson), so all he can really do is pray that Linsanity makes a return, and at the right time.