Ranking Who Should Replace Rajon Rondo on Eastern Conference All-Star Team

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2013

Ranking Who Should Replace Rajon Rondo on Eastern Conference All-Star Team

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    Rajon Rondo's torn ACL is going to be an interesting development moving forward, as it's going to send shockwaves through the NBA in terms of potential trades, playoff positioning and what happens with his spot in the All-Star Game.

    Of course, the likely starting point guard for the Eastern Conference is now Kyrie Irving. He might be a bit overshadowed by Jrue Holiday this season, but he seems to be the more popular and exciting player for this type of game.

    Commissioner David Stern will get to pick Rondo's replacement out of the list of East snubs, and it's going to be an interesting road to watch the ever-popular Stern go down.

    Common sense would tell you that Stern will replace Rondo, a point guard, with another deserving point guard. That may not be the case, however.

    In the past few seasons, we've seen Joe Johnson replaced by Rondo and Yao Ming replaced by Kevin Love due to injuries. They weren't direct position-based replacements, but it was a backcourt player replacing a backcourt player and a frontcourt guy replacing a frontcourt guy.

    However, back in 2010, a rash of injuries caused Stern to work overtime. That season saw him replace Allen Iverson with David Lee (frontcourt for backcourt) and Brandon Roy with Chris Kaman (frontcourt for backcourt).

    The point is, Stern usually takes the pulse of the league and decides upon the biggest snub to replace the injured player.

    So, who is on the list to replace Rondo? And who deserves it the most? Let's take a look.

6. J.R. Smith

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    After watching Rondo go down, it seems like every game thereafter until Stern selects his replacement will be a chance for players to put on a show and a chance for fans to go overboard lobbying for their players.

    Who has more fans to lobby for him than New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith?

    Every time J.R. Smith does something tonight, another Knicks fan will lobby for him to replace Rondo in the All-Star Game

    — SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) January 28, 2013

    Smith was a popular name thrown in as a snub, but looking at his stats, him potentially making the All-Star Game makes me want to gag a bit.

    He's got a hot start to the season, which was the biggest advantage that Smith found over his opponents in his quest for an All-Star berth.

    However, after falling flat (shooting 39 percent in December and 35 percent in January) Smith has watched his percentages plummet from their once lofty heights.

    He's dropped all the way down to 39.5 percent from the floor and 31.9 percent from the three-point line. Both those numbers are a drop-off from a season ago.

    I really don't care that he's the second-highest scoring member of the Knicks. Although his defense has improved a bit this season and he's hit a few game-winning shots, he just can't make up for his insanely inefficient past two months.

5. Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis

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    Brandon Jennings is in a similar boat as J.R. Smith. He's a very important part of his team's offense, he's capable of racking up glamor stats on defense and he's a part of a playoff team:

    Also, with Rondo out of the All-Star Game, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will be right up there as favorites to be his replacement.

    — Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) January 27, 2013

    Plus, Jennings has the advantage of being a point guard, which would have him directly replace Rondo as a guard for the East rather than putting in a bit of a hybrid guard/forward in Smith.

    However, he does it all inefficiently, takes too many shots, and his improvement has mostly been relegated to the first month of the season.

    Jennings has actually been on a bit of a bell curve this year, performing relatively well for the first 15 games of the season, going into a bit of a lull and then picking his performance up as of late. Unfortunately, that lull took a toll.

    He's shooting just over 40 percent for the season (just a notch above Smith), and while he's had a fine year from the three-point line (37 percent, a career high), he's not knocking it out of the park in any other category.

    Monta Ellis is in the same situation. He's shooting 40.3 percent from the field (to Jennings' 40.5 percent) and is coupling with him as the combined offensive threat on a team that relies on defense to win games.

    It's not that it would be surprising to see either of them replace Rondo, but it would be a bit disappointing, as there are more deserving candidates.

4. Josh Smith

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    It's a bit surprising that the Atlanta Hawks, as one of the Eastern Conference's six top teams, have no All-Star representatives despite the fact that they have two fine candidates.

    Of the two, Josh Smith has to overshadow Al Horford if only based on the fact that he's an absolute stat-sheet stuffer.

    Smith is averaging 16.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks, all while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. He then knocks his credibility down a notch while shooting 29 percent from the three-point line and 50 percent from the free-throw line.

    Of course, the biggest problem with Smith is the fact that he constantly shows people how good he can be, while simultaneously refusing to be that good, as he constantly settles for jump shots and remains moody day after day:

    Josh Smith snubs his own All-Star potential.

    — Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) January 28, 2013

    If he ends up grabbing the spot, it won't be a complete shocker, but it will be a bit of a surprise, as he always seems to find a way to drop out of the race just at the wrong time.

3. Deron Williams

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    As long as we're talking about teams without All-Star representation, look no further than the Brooklyn Nets.

    They're currently the fourth-best team in the East, as they have won 12 of 16 games since Avery Johnson was fired. In fact, the Nets are currently the team with the best record without a single All-Star representative:

    As for the All-Star game, Kyrie Irving will likely start. I expect Deron Williams or Joe Johnson to replace Rondo.

    — Legion Sports (@MySportsLegion) January 27, 2013

    Let's get past the fact that Deron Williams is still having a down year compared to the days with Utah, when he was dominating the Western Conference.

    Williams is still shooting 41.2 percent from the floor (better than Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis or J.R. Smith), averaging 17.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.8 assists and a steal per game to go along with a slightly respectable clip of 33.8 percent from the three-point line.

    He's the offensive initiator of one of the East's best teams, and he's the best point guard left over after the reserve selections.

2. Paul Pierce

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    While Paul Pierce is alsoadmittedly having a down year compared to his excellent 2011 or even his good 2012 season, but replacing a guy from the Boston Celtics with another guy from the Boston Celtics would be all too easy for David Stern:

    Ironically Rajon Rondo's injury may now mean Paul Pierce becomes an All-Star.

    — Celticfanchat.com (@CelticsFanChat) January 27, 2013

    Pierce is shooting 42 percent from the floor, but he's leading the Celtics with 20 points per game, pulling down 5.7 rebounds and doling out 3.8 assists per game, with an acceptable 35 percent clip from the three-point line.

    Once again, this wouldn't be the best selection in terms of deserving players, but to see Rondo's injury mean good for Paul Pierce wouldn't be too upsetting.

1. Brook Lopez

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    There's no doubt about it. Regardless of position, regardless of what team a guy plays for, regardless of what the fans are tweeting about, anybody besides Brook Lopez replacing Rajon Rondo would completely snub Lopez for the second time in a row.

    Lopez is averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds (up from 3.6 boards per in five games a season ago) and shooting 52 percent from the floor.

    Of the other players in the league to average at least 18 points and seven rebounds while shooting 52 percent, Lopez is the only one not in the All-Star Game. That list includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.

    Not only is Lopez the only one not in the All-Star Game, he's also the only one not selected as a starter in the game:

    Stern will pick All-Star replacement for Rondo. No obvious choice among guards. Does he take Brook Lopez? Nets best team w/out All-Star.

    — Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) January 27, 2013

    There's usually an argument about snubs following All-Star selections, but those arguments usually include talks about guys who would be the 13th player on the squad. Lopez has a legitimate argument that he should have been one of the first guys selected as a reserve and possibly even as a starter.