The NBA starters for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game have been announced, so let's predict who the coaches will choose as reserves.
Coaches will select two guards, three frontcourt players and two utility guys for their bench. Of course, there will be snubs, but unless they change the roster max to 20, someone's going to get screwed.
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Carmelo Anthony
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
19.4 points per game, 9.0 assists per game, 4.2 rebounds per game
Jrue Holiday has made the leap from young guard with potential to experienced leader who can't be contained. His game-tying bucket in the closing seconds against Toronto Friday night, along with the 33 points and 14 assists, should have solidified his status as an NBA All-Star.
With Andrew Bynum out, Holiday has kept his team's head above water, handling playmaking and scoring duties on a routine basis.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
23.3 points per game, 5.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds per game
Despite missing 11 games earlier in the year, Kyrie Irving has just been too good when on the floor. So far this month, he's reached the 28-point mark five times, after dropping 41 on the New York Knicks earlier at the Garden.
Irving's assist numbers aren't anything to write home about, but then again, look at the targets he's passing to. Irving has established himself as one of the premier guards in the league with confident scoring abilities and floor-general qualities.
Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
12.4 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, 67.3 percent shooting
You can't put a price tag on Tyson Chandler's impact to the Knicks rotation. He creates extra possessions with tap-backs and offensive rebounds, while posing as a target above the rim for his playmakers. Don't think for one minute that Raymond Felton's success isn't related to Chandler's presence.
While he's always a constant force on the defensive side of the ball, it's been his offense, toughness and reliability that have transformed the Knicks into title contenders.
Team USA's gold-medal center should get an automatic bid to the All-Star Game in Houston.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
12.4 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, 4.1 assists per game, 2.0 blocks per game
Joakim Noah has been transcendent for Chicago, taking his game to a new level, and it's translating to wins. Without Derrick Rose, Noah has raised his assist rate to over four a game, while expanding his offensive repertoire to include a reliable mid-range jumper.
Not only has he kept Chicago afloat without the former league MVP, but he's made the Bulls a hassle to play against and a threat in the East.
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
19.3 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, 3.8 assists per game
Paul Pierce is still stone cold in crunch time while keeping up the same scoring rate he's maintained over the years. With the same skill set and go-to moves since coming into the league, teams still don't have answer for him at the elbow or the wing.
Steadiness seems to overshadow flashy yet inconsistent play, so I'm going with Pierce over Josh Smith here.
East Utility Reserves
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
17.3 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game
Someone needs to represent the impressive Indiana Pacers, and I don't think there's any question that Paul George is the man. He's one of the brightest two-way wings in the NBA, scoring on and off the ball, and defending passing lanes with regularity.
George's services on both sides of the court have helped the Pacers overcome the loss of Danny Granger. He's stepped up his game and put a group on his back despite lacking the credentials and experience to qualify for such an important responsibility.
Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
17.4 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, 3.0 assists per game
Luol Deng has shouldered a heavier load with Derrick Rose on the shelf, assuming primary scoring responsibilities as the first offensive option. He's been a constant in an offense that can't afford unpredictability. Deng is also one of the most underrated defenders in the game, possessing the length, motor and versatility to lock down guards or forwards.
If Deng was an All-Star in 2012, then he certainly deserves it in 2013.
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Blake Griffin
West Backcourt Reserves
James Harden, Houston Rockets
26 points per game, 5.4 assists per game, 4.4 rebounds per game
Harden went from sixth man to the NBA's fifth-leading scorer. He's become an elite go-to option and one of the most dynamic playmakers around because of his ability to create offense off the dribble for himself or his teammates.
Harden is pretty much a no-brainer after adding his name to the list of first-class NBA scorers.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
22.7 points per game, 8.3 assists per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.0 steals per game
Russell Westbrook is one of the few unguardable players this league has to offer, and he has co-piloted the Thunder to the best record in the NBA. He's capable of making plays that can't be replicated, possessing unparalleled athleticism and explosiveness in the open floor.
As long as his legs stay attached to his body, you can write Westbrook into the next 10 All-Star games.
West Frontcourt Reserves
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
17.3 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game, 2.8 blocks per game
Here's another guy you can pretty much Sharpie into the lineup. Tim Duncan is having one of his best seasons in recent memory, increasing his scoring and rebounding numbers while nearly doubling his shot-blocking production.
With coaches making the picks, Duncan is a shoo-in, and a well-deserved one at that.
David Lee, Golden State Warriors
19.8 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game
David Lee is awfully close to being the only player in the NBA with a 20 and 10 average. His leadership and consistency have helped transform the Warriors from an immature group of youngsters to a disciplined unit and a player out in the West.
He's developed one of the most reliable mid-range jumpers in the game, and complements it with interior instincts and a strong nose for the ball. Someone on Golden State is likely to get snubbed, but I don't think it will be Lee.
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
16.4 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game, 49.4 percent shooting
Memphis probably deserves two All-Star bids, but with only three to five frontcourt reserves to choose from, I'm going with the team's most dominant. Despite not being able to jump over a puddle, Randolph manages to locate the basketball with his incredible magnet-hands. He's rebounding and scoring inside, while complementing his physical interior play with a deceptively dangerous jumper.
He's just too good offensively and too strong on the boards to pass on.
West Utility Reserves
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
19.6 points per game, 7.2 assists per game, 52.1 percent shooting
Tony Parker is having one of the best statistical seasons of his career, averaging his highest scoring total since 2008-09. You get the feeling that if a coach is forced to choose between Stephen Curry and Tony Parker, the tie will go to the veteran.
Serge Ibaka , Oklahoma City Thunder
13.9 points per game, 8.4 rebounds per game, 2.8 blocks per game, 55.9 percent shooting
Serge Ibaka has taken the next step in his development as a two-way frontcourt player. Arguably the top pure shot-blocker in the NBA, Ibaka has expanded his offensive game to the point where he's a threat with the ball in his hands.
Ibaka's mid-range jumper and ability to finish inside have contributed to nearly two more made field goals per game than a year ago. His transformation might have given the Thunder the jolt they need to dethrone Miami in June.
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