The 2013 NBA All-Star Game’s rosters are all set, and there really aren’t many surprises with the selection this year.
Overall, the fans and coaches did a great job selecting the starters and reserves, even though there were a few snubs—notably Marc Gasol and Stephen Curry.
However, just because some players made the prestigious event, that does not mean that are going to have great performances in the game. Most foresee the usual suspects—Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, etc.—hogging the attention and having the top showings.
While they may be right, here’s a look at a few guys who are under-the-radar who should outperform their relatively low expectations.
Luol Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls
Deng plays huge minutes for the scoring-challenged Chicago Bulls, and he’s doing quite well despite the lack of a true point guard (due to Derrick Rose’s absence).
The nine-year veteran is averaging 17.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 40 minutes of play over 43 contests, extremely respectable number and a large reason why he was selected as a reserve for the East.
He takes a ton of shots (averaging exactly 15 field goal attempts per game in 2012-13), so he has grown accustomed to firing when he has the airspace.
When Deng out on the court in the All-Star game, there is no precedent to expect him to start facilitating, so expect him to bomb away when he touches the rock.
Deng should be getting plenty of minutes too, as the 6’9” swingman is one of the NBA’s better defenders and can help lock down the likes of Bryant, Durant and the other prolific scorers in the West.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
Aldridge is an underrated 4, which is obvious since many felt it was a huge surprise when he was selected to the Western Conference reserves.
However, the coaches around the league see that he’s one of the most devastating players in the low post and dominates on a nightly basis. It’s a major contributor to his 20.7-point per game average, and he also helps on the defensive end.
Through 47 games, Aldridge is grabbing around 9.1 boards and swatting 1.3 shots while playing just over 38 minutes per contest.
He has the physical size and strength (6'11", 240 lbs.) to bang with the big boys and the athleticism to run the court with anyone.
While he’s not going to score 40 points in this guard-oriented exhibition game, it’s reasonable to believe Aldridge will make a few huge defensive plays and throw down some monster jams when he’s on the floor.
Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets
Most of the knocks on Lopez come from his mediocre defense and poor rebounding ability, which are certainly warranted, but it won’t matter on Feb. 17—the date of the All-Star game.
As an injury replacement for Rajon Rondo, the fifth-year man out of Stanford wasn’t even supposed to be here, but he’ll make the most of his trip to Houston.
There is arguably no better scorer in the league right now from the center position, as the seven-footer averages a solid 18.9 points per game. He’s also an athlete who can run well for his size and get up and block shots (2.2 per game).
Throw in a decent jumper and you have a perfect big man that will be hustling up and down the court, firing away when the defense is lax and making a few highlight-reel swats.
It’ll be tough to crack coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation for long with defensive specialists Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler on the roster, but Lopez will be an offensive force when he gets his minutes.
2013 All-Star Rosters
Eastern Conference Starters
Eastern Conference Reserves
G Jrue Holiday (76ers), G Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers), F Chris Bosh (Heat), F Paul George (Pacers), F Luol Deng (Bulls), C Tyson Chandler (Knicks), C Joakim Noah (Bulls), C Brook Lopez (Nets) *Replacement
Western Conference Starters
Western Conference Reserves
G Tony Parker (Spurs), G Russell Westbrook (Thunder), G James Harden (Rockets), F Tim Duncan (Spurs), F Zach Randolph (Grizzlies), F LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers), F David Lee (Warriors)