Now that the balloting for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game has officially come to a close, the starters for both the Eastern and Western Conferences have been revealed. There is an immense and diverse amount of talent on both squads this year, as veterans and younger players will share the court.
Success will hinder on how these players interact with each other once play begins; however, until that time, all we can do is speculate as to which team may be stronger on paper.
Let's take a position-by-position look at both teams to determine which has the upper hand heading into the All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 16.
- LeBron James, Miami
- Paul George, Indiana
- Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
James is quickly becoming a more versatile player than he has ever been—this should be absolutely terrifying for the Western Conference. He has shown dramatic improvement in his jump shooting, which is reflected in the increase in his field-goal percentage over the past two seasons.
Most consecutive NBA All-Star selections- Kobe Bryant 16, LeBron James 10, Dwyane Wade 10— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 24, 2014
The 23-year-old George has been turning heads so far in the 2013-14 NBA season. He looks much more confident this year and has increased his average points per game by a margin of 5.9 over a very good 2012-13 season. His offensive prowess and ability as a perimeter defender make him very worthy of this spot.
The Knicks have been terrible this season; however, Anthony has been a lone bright spot for the team. While averaging an impressive 26.1 points per game, he is also averaging nine boards as well—a career high. He may be the "old man" here at 30 years old, but he is still very capable of putting up some elite numbers.
Durant has been playing out of his mind this year. In fact, he has been so very good that considering anyone else for MVP at this point in the season seems rather ludicrous. Averaging 31 points per game while shooting .504 from the field just doesn't seem fair.
Griffin will certainly be the man in the post for the Western Conference in 2014. He has become an offensive powerhouse—not just due to his ability to score in the paint but also with his ball distribution from that area as well. His game is taking shape, and he is becoming a very well-rounded player.
Blake Griffin AND Kevin Love jumped Dwight Howard in the voting. Previous round vote totals: KD 1,054K, Dwight 509K, Blake 500K, Love $483K.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) January 24, 2014
Despite some deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball, Love has been able to put together a monster offensive season. Averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds per game, Love has been one of the best big men in the NBA this season. He was able to jump past Dwight Howard in the balloting to gain a starting gig here, and his offensive resurgence allowed him to do so.
- Dwayne Wade, Miami
- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
Wade has been able to shoot 54 percent from the field this season—a career high. Part of that is due to his limited role with the Heat. While injury concerns still linger heavy over Wade, he still remains one of the best guards in the league. If he does end up playing, he could take on more of a distribution-style role here.
Irving has had a bit of a roller coaster 2013-14 campaign thus far. He began the season in the midst of a tremendous shooting slump, only to dig himself out to remind us all why he is so exciting to watch. Catching fire at the right time seemed to be enough to get him into the All-Star lineup once again this year.
Curry is one of the most exciting point guards to watch in the NBA. Hands down. He is a natural long-range shooter and continues to down threes with tremendous efficiency. What has really been impressive is his newfound ability to spread the ball around, as he is averaging 9.2 assists per game to go along with his 23.5 points per game—both career highs.
Kobe Bryant says he has no desire to accept All-Star start. pic.twitter.com/bfcyVrOk0v— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 24, 2014
Well, here we go. Despite only playing six games this season, Bryant has been voted into the starting backcourt for the Western Conference. Not that he isn't deserving from a career standpoint, but it was reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times that Bryant has no desire to play in the All-Star Game this year. Time to call in the reserves.