10 Biggest Names on the NBA All-Star Roster Bubble

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2013

10 Biggest Names on the NBA All-Star Roster Bubble

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    The reserves for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game have yet to be announced, so there are a bunch of ballers on the bubble waiting to hear their name called.

    The fan-voted starters were announced on Jan. 17, and that's a group of megastars.  The reserves will be announced on Jan. 24. There are also some stars, such as Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan and James Harden, who are sure bets to be coach-selected reserves.

    But what about the reserve candidates who aren't locks to make the team? Who are the biggest names in that group?

    The Eastern Conference frontcourt will be a tricky one to fill out, as some Big Apple centers are vying for a spot. In the West, a trio of marquee power forwards are jockeying for position.

    *Statistics gathered from Basketball-Reference.com, accurate as of Jan. 18, 2013.

    **Players who are considered "locks" to be reserves, and therefore not "on the bubble," are Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh and Kyrie Irving.

Honorable Mention: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers G

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    2012-13 Stats: 19.4 PPG, 9.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 46.2 percent FG, 37.1 percent 3-PT, 19.67 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: High

    Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday isn't wildly popular yet, but he's on the fast track to stardom after a monster first half.

    The fourth-year guard is asserting himself now more than ever, using his handle, creativity and strength to consistently get to the cup. He's not just a slasher, though. Holiday displays phenomenal court awareness as a passer and is always a threat to pull up for a jumper.

    The only factors that detract from his candidacy are Philadelphia's subpar record (17-23) and the elite guards competing with him for a spot in the East backcourt. If wiser heads prevail, the Eastern Conference coaches will find a way to send him to Houston.

10. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies F

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    2012-13 Stats: 16.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG (4.3 O-RPG), 49.4 percent FG, 19.75 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: One

    Probability of Making the Cut: Medium

    Pound for pound, Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph is one of the best rebounders in the NBA. It's particularly impressive when you consider how non-athletic he is.

    He's not a household name in America, but rather a highly regarded veteran who has gradually gained a lot of respect among avid NBA fans.

    Randolph cleans up the boards for Lionel Hollins while serving as the second-leading scorer on the squad. He also plays stout defense against the continual onslaught of talented Western Conference opponents.

    Tim Duncan, David Lee and LaMarcus Aldridge are going to make it difficult for the coaches to include Randolph on the All-Star bench, but there's really not much separating him from the rest of the group.

9. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers F

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    2012-13 Stats: 20.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 46.5 percent FG, 19.51 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: One

    Probability of Making the Cut: Medium to High

    LaMarcus Aldridge isn't the only Portland Trail Blazer garnering All-Star attention (Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard are worth a glance), but he is the biggest name of the three and the most likely to make it.

    With a polished offensive repertoire and an improved defensive competitiveness, he has successfully overcome health issues and established himself as a top-tier power forward.

    The 2012 All-Star Game was Aldridge's first, and his 2012-13 numbers are extremely close to the 2011-12 marks.

    What's the real difference between last year's candidacy and this year's? Aldridge is leading Portland to a playoff record in 2012-13 thus far.

8. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks G

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    2012-13 Stats: 18.3 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 40.6 percent FG, 36.1 percent 3-PT, 17.09 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: Low

    It's always fun to watch a small southpaw guard like Brandon Jennings do his thing, but will his first-half showing be enough to crack the 2013 Eastern Conference roster?

    The Milwaukee Bucks are above .500 and in the playoff mix, and Jennings has a lot to do with that. He's become a more efficient shooter from almost every spot on the floor, and he's also turned it up a notch on defense.

    Even though he's clearly one of the best guards in the conference, he could end up getting passed over. There are a slew of forwards who will use up reserve spots, and Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday are ahead of Jennings in the point guard department.

7. Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets C

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    2012-13 Stats: 18.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 51.9 percent FG, 25.60 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: Medium to High

    A boatload of hype surrounded the Nets' move to Brooklyn, and the only star to actually meet or exceed expectations at the new address is center Brook Lopez.

    Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are still doing fine, but the Nets' most important player is their low-post behemoth. Lopez is a handful for any center that encounters him, as he uses his size and skill to maneuver and power past opponents. Defensively, he's protecting the rim better than ever.

    With Joakim Noah and Chris Bosh in prime position to take two of the East's frontcourt reserve spots, it will come down to crosstown competitors Lopez and Tyson Chandler for the last low-post roster spot.

    Lopez has the edge, but don't engrave his name on the All-Star plaque yet.

6. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks F

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    2012-13 Stats: 16.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 2.3 BPG, 43.6 percent FG, 17.16 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: Medium to High

    When you glance at his scoring totals and field-goal percentage, Josh Smith's 2012-13 season doesn't seem striking at all.

    But a deeper look tells you how valuable he is to the Atlanta Hawks. He's highly effective as a rebounder, passer and shot-blocker. Smith's ability to guard both forward spots and score effectively from inside and outside is indispensable to Larry Drew.

    His production is down from 2011-12, and he didn't make the All-Star cut then. It might lead us to believe he's not worthy this year, either.

    That's not necessarily true. He probably should have made it last year, and coaches shouldn't punish him in 2013 for failing to exceed his stellar 2011-12 efforts.

5. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder F/C

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    2012-13 Stats: 13.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 55.9 percent FG, 19.04 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: Low

    As far as international names go, Serge Ibaka is the biggest one on the All-Star bubble.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder shot-blocker is as dangerous as ever defensively, but his five-point jump in scoring (from 9.1 PPG in 2011-12) and improved offensive efficiency is what's generating All-Star whispers.

    Unfortunately, he's unlikely to make the squad as a reserve due to the exploits of David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge and the Memphis Grizzlies' frontcourt duo. 

    Another year of growth and development, and maybe it will be a different story.

4. David Lee, Golden State Warriors F

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    2012-13 Stats: 19.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 52.8 percent FG, 20.20 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: One

    Probability of Making the Cut: High

    Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee has a great chance to make his second career All-Star appearance. It's not a 100 percent sure thing, however, because the Western Conference frontcourt is stacked.

    Lee provides the interior juice the Warriors need in order to be a winning outfit.

    His work on the glass, nose for the ball and touch around the rim have given foes fits this season, and he's also good for a few mid-range jumpers per game. With 3.6 assists per night, he helps keep Golden State's offense humming.

    The last time he shot and rebounded this well was 2009-10, when he earned his first All-Star trip. Warriors fans hope his 2012-13 winning ways will send him back into the spotlight.

3. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks C

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    2012-13 Stats: 12.4 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 67.3 percent FG, 21.56 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: Medium

    Despite the Olympic gold medal, 2012 Defensive Player of the Year honors and league-leading field-goal percentage, Tyson Chandler might not make the 2013 All-Star Game.

    If the coaches select the New York Knickerbockers anchor, he'll finally get some well-deserved credit for being one of the best centers in the league.

    Chandler's value on both ends of the floor is reflected in New York's current standing in the East. He accounts for almost all of the Knicks' paint defense and pick-and-roll finishing.

    Although he's worthy, he has stiff competition for a roster spot in the form of Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh and Brook Lopez.

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors G

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    2012-13 Stats: 20.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 43.7 percent FG, 46.1 percent 3-PT, 19.28 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: None

    Probability of Making the Cut: High

    He might sit out the game due to his latest ankle woes, but Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry deserves All-Star consideration nonetheless.

    The Dubs would be miles short of where they are now (No. 5 in the West) without Curry. He's the creative conductor of this west-coast train—a train that looks playoff-bound.

    All you need to do is look at Golden State's blowout loss to the Miami Heat to see how important Curry is. Without him, the Warriors had difficulty generating offense and challenging Miami's defense.

    I'd be surprised if he isn't chosen for the 2013 game. He's on the bubble but leaning heavily toward his first career All-Star selection.

1. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics F

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    2012-13 Stats: 19.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 42.7 percent FG, 36.8 percent 3-PT, 19.62 PER

    Previous All-Star Selections: 10

    Probability of Making the Cut: Medium

    Paul Pierce is having another superb season for the Boston Celtics, and he remains a household name in the NBA. But it doesn't mean he's a shoo-in for the big night in Houston.

    His overall numbers and production certainly warrant consideration for a roster spot, but Boston's situation might prevent him from inclusion.

    Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are already locked in as All-Star starters, and Boston's pedestrian 20-19 record makes it tricky to justify three Celtics on the roster.

    He's still one of the premiere small forwards in the East, but the rest of the pack is catching up.

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