NBA All-Star Game 2014: Projecting Ideal Starting Lineups for East and West

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NBA All-Star Game 2014: Projecting Ideal Starting Lineups for East and West
Eric Gay/Associated Press

While the NBA All-Star Game is meant for the fans, they often do a poor job of picking the starting lineups for the midseason event.

Obviously, big stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant will find their way into the All-Star Game after huge starts to the year. Additionally, multiple seasons of success help these players gain popularity with the public.

However, Kobe Bryant does not exactly deserve to be a starter after playing just six games this season. Here is a look at the starting lineups if the voting ended today, via NBA.com:

Current NBA All-Star Game Lineups
East Team West Team
Dwyane Wade Miami Heat Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers
Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors
LeBron James Miami Heat Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George Indiana Pacers Dwight Howard Houston Rockets
Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers

NBA.com

Many of these are good selections, but here is a more accurate portrayal of the best players in the league at this point of the year.

 

Eastern Conference

Backcourt

John Wall, Washington Wizards

Not only has this been an incredibly weak year in the Eastern Conference from a team perspective, but it also has been a disappointment individually.

Injuries have kept Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose out for most of the year, while Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and others have been limited as well. 

As a result, younger players like John Wall had the opportunity to step up. The Wizards point guard is averaging 20 points per game and leads the Eastern Conference with 8.5 assists per game. His leadership has helped Washington move into the playoff picture for the first time since he was drafted.

 

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

You can make an argument for DeMar DeRozan to start with the job he has done with the upstart Toronto Raptors. However, Kyrie Irving has been just as impressive and is more of a household name at this point thanks to his "Uncle Drew" commercials.

The third-year guard is not even playing well, but he still has impressive numbers while almost single-handedly carrying the Cavaliers. With the addition of Luol Deng, they should be able to turn things around even more.

 

Frontcourt

LeBron James, Miami Heat

Is there any doubt that LeBron James will be on the court when the All-Star Game starts? The four-time MVP has seen his numbers drop a bit from last year, but he is also getting less help from his teammates thanks to Wade's constant injuries.

James is still the best all-around player in the NBA and should bring little debate as to his inclusion in the exhibition.

 

Paul George, Indiana Pacers

After a breakout regular season, Paul George truly became a household name in last year's playoffs. The small forward helped the Pacers stay neck and neck with the Heat before going down in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

This year he has been even better while helping Indiana sit in first place in the conference. He displays a great all-around ability on both ends of the court, and he has become one of the best players in the NBA.

There is little doubt he deserves to be included in his second All-Star Game this year.

 

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Things certainly are not going well for the Knicks this year as they have fallen far compared to last year. Carmelo Anthony even recently said that his team "didn't even fight" in a recent loss, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

However, there are not many frontcourt players worthy of a spot in the starting lineup, especially considering Anthony is averaging an impressive 26.1 points per game, which remains above his career average.

Until someone else in the East steps up at the position, Anthony should remain in this slot.

 

Western Conference

Backcourt

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

A year ago, Stephen Curry did not even make the All-Star team. This time around, the guard is considered one of the best players in the entire league.

While his shooting numbers are down, Curry is still nearly impossible to defend and has been making clutch shots throughout the season. As the leader of a balanced roster, he will finally make the Warriors into legitimate contenders in the playoffs.

 

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

There are certainly a number of other options for fans at this spot, despite the fact that Kobe Bryant appears likely to get nominated. Even the Black Mamba recommended Damian Lillard, while James Harden would also be a smart pick.

However, Chris Paul remains an MVP candidate thanks to his league-leading 11.2 assists per game. The Clippers guard has help from Blake Griffin, but he has been one of the top players in the NBA all year.

 

Frontcourt

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Even without his partner in crime Russell Westbrook for most of the year, Kevin Durant has shown people why he is the best scorer in the game. He is up to an average of 31.0 points per game thanks to his huge games, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:

This makes him the safest pick for the Western Conference starters.

 

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

Few could have predicted the start to the year for the Portland Trail Blazers. While they are no longer in first place in the West, they remain firmly in the race for the No. 1 seed.

This is mainly due to the breakout play of LaMarcus Aldridge, who is having the best year of his career after reaching the All-Star Game in each of the last two seasons. He currently ranks sixth in the NBA in points and fifth in rebounds per game while totaling 26 double-doubles in 42 games.

Which center is more deserving of starting in the All-Star Game?

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Aldridge has turned himself into one of the best frontcourt players in basketball and is clearly still getting better. 

 

Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

There are many who will put Dwight Howard in this spot based on reputation. However, Kevin Love is finally healthy and putting together an incredible season. In fact, he averages more points, rebounds and assists than Howard with less help around him.

While the Rockets deserve a lot of credit for their strong play to start the season, Howard and Harden will likely both make the team, at least as reserves. This should be a chance for Love to shine on the big stage due to his outstanding numbers. 

 

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