Golden State Warriors Who Will Be All-Stars in 2014
The 2013 All-Star Game was unlike any the NBA had seen in 16 seasons.
OK, that's a slight exaggeration. There was one thing different about this year's All-Star Game in Houston, but that difference was relatively minor and hardly noticeable to people outside of the Bay Area.
The difference, of course, was the presence of David Lee on the roster. The Warriors power forward became the first Golden State player to make an All-Star team since Latrell Sprewell in 1997.
It doesn't take much careful analysis to predict that it will be less than a decade and a half before another Warriors player is selected. After all, the lack of an All-Star in Oakland has much to do with the lack of winning seasons.
Considering that Golden State is trending upwards as a franchise, both of these scarcities should become plentiful over the next several years.
Which Warriors will actually make the exclusive cut next season? I'll attempt to break it down.
No player drew as much attention for making the 2013 All-Star Game as Stephen Curry did for missing it.
Curry's omission was not as horrendous as many believed it to be. There were clearly five more deserving guards in the stacked Western Conference, and three of them were point guards.
While Curry may have been more deserving than LaMarcus Aldridge, representing every position more or less equally is a worthwhile cause. Unfortunately for him, the same issue will arise next season as long as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker remain healthy.
So why do I have Stephen Curry in the 2014 All-Star Game?
The battle between Curry and Parker for the final PG spot was close this season. Parker had a better field-goal percentage, more assists and a better team record while Curry edged Parker in points, rebounding and three-point shooting.
Next year, it may not be so close. Parker is having a career season, and you'd have to go back four years to find another Tony Parker stat line that even competes with Curry's. Of course, Curry is enjoying a career year as well, but the 24-year-old will likely improve on this year's stats.
If Parker returns to his norm next season, even a repeat performance from Curry should get him over the hump, especially with the "snub" label firmly attached to him.
Blake Griffin started the 2013 All-Star Game at the 4 spot, but David Lee was almost unarguably better than any power forward in the West during the season's first half.
Lee outscored, out-rebounded and out-assisted Blake Griffin during the season's first 52 games. Blake shot a better percentage, but Lee's far superior free-throw shooting more than makes up for it in terms of points per shot attempt.
Lee also leads the entire NBA in double-doubles and, until recently, was the league's only player averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Of course, the Kia mascot will almost certainly beat out Lee in the fan voting again next year, but he may not win the starting spot. If Kevin Love is back on the court and healthy, it's a good bet that the Minnesota big man will start at power forward for the West.
The field is still deep after that, but as long as the Warriors win, Lee will have a clear edge on other top power forwards like LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki. It may come down to Lee, Griffin, Zach Randolph and Serge Ibaka all fighting for two spots, but the odds have to favor Lee at this point, who should again out-stat all of them and win at only a slightly worse, if not comparable, pace.
When Andrew Bogut is healthy, there may not be a more rounded center in the NBA. The Australian big can shoot, score down low, finish strong, handle, pass, set screens, run the floor, grab boards and block shots. There's not one other center in the NBA who fits that description.
Unfortunately, being named an All-Star isn't about how well-rounded your game is. Ask Marc Gasol. Ask Josh Smith. Being an All-Star is about popularity, reputation, team record and statistical output.
If Dwight Howard remains in Los Angeles, it's a forgone conclusion that he'll be the starting center. Beyond that, Tim Duncan has the inside track at the backup spot, and there is virtually no chance of three centers making the team.
Even if three centers are chosen, the field—Marc Gasol, Al Jefferson, DeMarcus Cousins—has too much statistical potential to make a Bogut selection realistic.
A Ways Away
Don't get me wrong, the 23-year-old sophomore is one of the better young shooting guards in the NBA. But with essentially a guarantee of at least three point guards making the team every year, there's no room for more than two shooting guards.
In a conference with Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala and O.J. Mayo, Klay Thompson appears to be several seasons away from having his name even entering the All-Star conversation.
Harrison Barnes' numbers are far more modest than Klay Thompson's this season, but the Warriors rookie may actually be closer to stardom than their sophomore. His ability to get to the rim, create his own shot, rebound and defend bring to mind talents ranging from Rudy Gay to a young Paul Pierce.
This is, of course, a best-case scenario, and even the most optimistic projections of Barnes' growth shouldn't have him reaching the 20 PPG, 6.0 RPG range for at least three more seasons.
Those, of course, being the type of numbers that Barnes would have to put up to become an All-Star candidate.