2013 NBA All Star Reserves: First-Time Selections Who Will Contend for MVP
The 2013 NBA All-Star game has a full complement of players and rosters for the East and West squads, and the only thing left to do now is wait for the action to commence on Feb. 17.
If you've yet to see the full complement of reserves after they were announced by the TNT crew last night, here's a look courtesy of Bleacher Report's own Twitter handle:
Your 2013 NBA All-Star Western and Eastern Conference reserves twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 25, 2013
From a satisfaction standpoint, many of these selections were well deserved, but it's the snubs that always catch our attention. In the East, Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez has a case over Chris Bosh and Joakim Noah, but the two elder statesmen prevailed in the eyes of the fans and coaches that voted.
In the West, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was the biggest omission from the list, as his stellar play has catapulted the Bay Area right into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
In any event, the teams are set (barring injury replacements) and these are the guys we're going to have to enjoy watching when the head coaches make their subs on All-Star Sunday.
Of the selections, there's a slew of first-timers, but those guys haven't played like anything but studs over the course of this 2012-13 season. Of the newcomers, here's a look at who has the best chance to take home MVP honors in Houston.
Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving
Any doubters (myself included) that didn't think Irving was worthy of the No.1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft are having to bite their tongue and apologize to the Cavs.
Irving has been worthy and then some, and his performance this year has even given some analysts hope that LeBron James might return to Cleveland upon the end of his time with the Miami Heat (h/t SLAM.com).
Aside from some nagging injury concerns, Irving has been the best thing in Cleveland since James. He's struggled with some minor ailments along the way, but he's pushed through to the tune of 23.7 points and 5.7 assists per game this season.
The other point guards on the roster are great players, and Rajon Rondo can't be denied the title of assist king. But Irving has the "it" factor that All-Star games are built for, and he'll no doubt razzle and dazzle the crowd in Houston. He's a true sleeper to take home his first MVP award in his first appearance.
Indiana Pacers G/F Paul George
Aside from making Pacers fans forget about Danny Granger, George has had himself quite a nice season statistically. He's putting in over 17 points and seven rebounds per game, and has keyed Indiana's resurgence after a rough start to the season.
Additionally, George can get above the rim.
The 2012 All-Star Dunk Contest proved that, as George put on a show for the fans before he was actually a participant in the game, dunking over 7'2" teammate Roy Hibbert.
Now ready to participate in the Sunday night event with the big boys, George has shown that he's starting to emerge as a complete player. Granger's absence has allowed him to shine, and from shooting the three-pointer to getting above the rim, George has been doing it all.
All-Star games are all about flash, and George has plenty of that. If the East starters decide to sit it down early, he could put on a show in the second half.
Houston Rockets SG James Harden
The stage is set for Harden to sneak in and steal MVP titles from James, Kobe Bryant and anyone else that dare stand in his way—Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook included.
Can Harden win the All-Star game MVP?
Playing in front of his hometown Rockets, Harden will have a chance to prove that his hot start to the season and life without his former OKC teammates has been no fluke.
KD and Westbrook will be teammates yet again with Harden on the West squad, but make no mistake—this is not the James Harden that deferred to the big guns down the stretch to start his career. He's going to look to get it going early and often, and will have the support of the hometown fans as his ally.
Harden is the man in Houston, and he won't back away from the challenge of putting on a show in front of the 20,000 people that come to see him every night. This could be his coming-out party, and an MVP in the All-Star game would be a nice trophy to add as he starts his collection.
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