The 62nd All-Star Game will take place in Houston on Feb. 17 and will be broadcast nationally on TNT. The All-Star starting lineups were announced Thursday on TNT before Minnesota took on the Clippers. The lineups were selected by fan vote through NBA.com, through text message, and on Twitter and Facebook for the first time.
In the Eastern Conference, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are starting at guards, and LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett are starting in the frontcourt. In the Western Conference, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant are starting at the guards, and Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard are starting in the frontcourt.
The All-Star benches will be selected by coaches in the coming weeks. Here are my predictions of which players will be selected to the game. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!
Stats: 23.3 PPG, 5.6 APG, 46.3% FG, 40.5% 3P, 1.8 SPG
Last season, Kyrie Irving was the runaway Rookie of the Year, and arguably one of the best rookie point guards in years. Now, he is arguably the fastest rising player. He has shown the ability to score at will, get his teammates involved, and to hit clutch baskets like few other players in this league.
Even though his team has not been successful this season, that can hardly be attributed to Irving's shortcomings. He is a superstar in the making, and he will take the next step this season by becoming a first-time All-Star.
Stats: 19.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 8.8 APG, 45.8% FG, 37.5% 3P, 1.4 SPG
Jrue Holiday was a player who came into this league with great potential, and is finally starting to put his talent together. He is averaging career high points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, and free throws attempted a game.
The Sixers this season are struggling, but Holiday has been a bright spot on this team. If Andrew Bynum can return and the Sixers make the playoffs, this team will be a dangerous one. Holiday has clearly earned himself an All-Star selection this year.
Stats: 12.4 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.0 BPG
Joakim Noah has been one of the lead snubs multiple times in All-Star games. This season, he is averaging a career high in points, assists, and blocks. He has developed a much more potent offensive game that includes jump shots and legitimate post moves to go along with his customary tip-ins and dunks. He is arguably the best passing big man in the NBA.
With Joakim Noah more than any other player in the NBA, you can't tell the whole story with just statistics. He is the quarterback of the defense for the Chicago Bulls.
He brings so much energy to the Chicago Bulls, and is one of the main reasons for their success without Derrick Rose. He should absolutely be rewarded with an All-Star selection.
Stats: 17.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 55.0% FG, 1.4 BPG
Chris Bosh has once again been the forgotten man on the Miami Heat. He is putting up a ridiculously high field-goal percentage this season, and has been an essential part of Miami's smaller lineup this season.
The Miami Heat are once again at the top of the Eastern Conference, and Chris Bosh has been paramount to that. Even though they are not performing up to par right now, he has earned a spot on the All-Star team.
Stats: 12.4 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 67.2% FG, 1.0 BPG
Tyson Chandler is once again playing for a team at the top of the league in the New York Knicks. Chandler leads the NBA in field-goal percentage by a ridiculous 7 percent, leads the NBA in offensive rebounds per game, and is also top 10 in rebounds per game.
Tyson Chandler is similar to Joakim Noah in that statistics cannot tell the whole story. This season, the Knicks' improved defensive performance is the key reason for their improvement.
This improvement can largely be attributed to Tyson Chandler. It is time that we finally reward him with an All-Star selection.
Stats: 16.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.7 SPG
Paul George came into the league with a lot of potential, and is finally starting to put it all together. In the past, there were issues with his being too passive, especially on the offensive end, and he is starting to get over that.
The Danny Granger injury has been a blessing in disguise, as Paul George is now learning how to be a star on both ends of the floor.
The Pacers are finally starting to respond to George's improvement. Right now, they sit third in the Eastern Conference, only 2.5 games out of the No. 1 seed. This is despite Danny Granger not playing yet this season. While his numbers aren't exceptional, Paul George is an All-Star.
Stats: 19.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 43.1% FG, 37.3% 3P, 1.4 SPG
This season, Paul Pierce is having an average season by his standards. He is averaging near 20 points per game, solid rebound numbers, solid assist numbers, just a typical year from Paul Pierce.
This season however, it's hard to say that the Boston Celtics deserve to have three All-Stars. At the moment they are sitting as the final team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture,
Despite the team's struggles, it's unfair to penalize Paul Pierce when he is putting up All-Star production.
Stats: 22.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 8.3 APG, 2.0 SPG
Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder made the NBA Finals for the first time since relocating to Oklahoma City, and only the fourth time in franchise history. Since then, the Thunder have been on an absolute tear, and now have the top record in the NBA.
Along with fellow Thunder player Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook has been a key reason for this success. We are seeing less games of "bad Russ," and more superstar play like we have come to expect from him. He is clearly an All-Star this season.
Stats: 26.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.3 APG, 44.7% FG, 1.9 SPG
Last offseason, the Thunder decided to trade James Harden rather than signing him to an extension. The move was purely financial. He was traded for a package that included Kevin Martin and draft picks, and was immediately catapulted to the top of NBA shooting guards.
Since the trade, James Harden has exploded. He is currently fourth in the NBA in scoring, and is part of Houston being right back in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. In addition, the All-Star Game is being played in Houston, so there is no way he misses out.
Stats: 19.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 52.9% FG
Very few teams this season have been more under-the-radar than the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are fifth in the Western Conference right now with a 23-14 record, far better than the 16-21 record that they had at this point last season.
David Lee this season has been a monster. He is top 10 in the NBA in points and rebounds per game. He has been an essential part of the Warriors' offense, and has been a part of their defensive improvement as well.
Due to team success, it's time to reward him with an All-Star appearance.
Stats: 20.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.3 BPG
The Portland Trail Blazers fell apart last season after the All-Star break and trading Gerald Wallace to the Nets. This season, the Blazers have come out with a renewed sense of confidence and energy, especially with the acquisition of Damian Lillard.
As always, LaMarcus Aldridge is cementing his place as one of the best power forwards in the association. He has a deadly mid-range jump shot, and a very effective low-post game to complement it.
With Kevin Love out, he is arguably the best power forward in the association, and clearly is an All-Star.
Stats: 17.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 50.1% FG, 2.8 BPG
Paraphrasing Mark Twain, rumors of Tim Duncan's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Duncan is still averaging great numbers, and is leading the third-best team in the NBA this season. He's averaging these numbers in merely 30 minutes a game as well,
Duncan continues to be one of the great big men in the NBA on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Because of that, he deserves to make his 14th All-Star appearance.
Stats: 20.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 6.6 APG, 43.7% FG, 46.1% 3P, 89.3% FT, 1.6 SPG
As mentioned before with David Lee, the Golden State Warriors are one of the most up-and-coming teams in the NBA right now. The key to it all is point guard Stephen Curry.
There are few players in the NBA who are better shooters than Steph Curry. This season, Curry is averaging 46 percent from three-point land on a ridiculous 6.8 three-point attempts a game!
More than anything else, Stephen Curry is the focal point of the Golden State Warriors. As he goes, the Warriors go, and he has been going this season. Therefore, he should be named to his first-ever All-Star game.
Stats: 19.4 PPG, 7.2 APG, 52.0% FG, 42.6% 3P
In the past few seasons, Tony Parker has transitioned to the leader of the San Antonio Spurs. His offensive game has expanded quite a bit, and he is now much better at setting up his teammates along with scoring and closing games.
Parker has also been the Spurs' most consistent piece this season. Whenever the offense fails, he is there to bail them out.
He is averaging a career high in points and three-point percentage, and his second highest field-goal percentage, He has clearly earned himself a spot on the All-Star team.