The starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game were announced last week, and there were no major surprises. Kevin Love edged out Dwight Howard late in the fan voting process, but everything else remained in line with the voting updates.
Things should be a little more interesting with the reserves. There is no shortage of worthy candidates, leaving coaches to make some tricky decisions, especially when it comes to choosing between veterans and young players on the rise.
Ultimately, snubs will exists, no matter which players end up getting picked. So let's make some predictions for which stars are most likely to get an appearance in the marquee game.
To check out the starters and format for reserves, visit the NBA's official site.
|G||John Wall||Washington Wizards|
|G||Arron Afflalo||Orlando Magic|
|G||Kyle Lowry||Toronto Raptors|
|F||Joakim Noah||Chicago Bulls|
|F||Chris Bosh||Miami Heat|
|F||Andre Drummond||Detroit Pistons|
|F||Al Jefferson||Charlotte Bobcats|
2014 NBA All-Star Game
John Wall could have easily made the starting lineup based on his efforts carrying the Washington Wizards this season, but neither Dwyane Wade nor Kyrie Irving were a terrible selection to start. Wall is really the only lock among reserve guards for the East.
Which guard is most likely to get left off the team?
Arron Afflalo deserves to be recognized for his vast improvement on the offensive end this year. He was a limited contributor on that end of the floor early in his career, but now, with more opportunity and better efficiency, he's averaging more than 20 points per game for the Orlando Magic.
One player who continues to get overlooked is Toronto's Kyle Lowry. Much like Afflalo, he's spent a lot of time as a role player throughout his career but is enjoying his best season to date. His ability to help across the board is worthy of an All-Star appearance.
Kemba Walker, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague, DeMar DeRozan and Lance Stephenson are some other names to keep in mind, especially if the coaches lean toward carrying extra guards.
Andre Drummond doesn't get the attention he probably deserves due to a low scoring average. But despite checking in at less than 13 points per contest, his efficiency on that end of the floor paired with dominance on the glass and defensive ability makes him a strong candidate.
Charlotte's Al Jefferson should get the nod over the likes of Atlanta Hawks teammates Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Jefferson has been a key cog in the middle for the Bobcats, helping the team to become playoff contenders in the East.
|G||Chris Paul||Los Angeles Clippers|
|G||James Harden||Houston Rockets|
|G||Tony Parker||San Antonio Spurs|
|F||Dwight Howard||Houston Rockets|
|F||Anthony Davis||New Orleans Pelicans|
|F||DeMarcus Cousins||Sacramento Kings|
|F||LaMarcus Aldridge||Portland Trail Blazers|
2014 NBA All-Star Game
Chris Paul and James Harden should both make the team without much issue. Both players are enjoying terrific seasons and are a step above the rest of the guards in contention to serve as reserves for the West.
Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles noted comments from Paul, who's working his way back from a shoulder injury but hopes to make and play in the All-Star Game:
If I can play, I'm going to play, I love to play that much. The All-Star Game is in New Orleans and that's part of me. That's where I played my very first All-Star Game at. Anytime you have that opportunity, I'm not going to pass that up because it's not guaranteed to happen next year.
Since the forward crop is stronger, there's probably only one other guard spot available. It's hard to imagine an All-Star team without a player from the defending conference champions and one of the top teams in the West this season, so Tony Parker gets the call.
Dwight Howard just missed out on the fan vote, but he should be a clear choice for the reserves. The same goes for Anthony Davis, who's enjoying a breakout second season in the league.
The other two spots are interesting. DeMarcus Cousins and LaMarcus Aldridge are probably the most worthy options based on their performance and their importance to their respective teams, which is a factor that should always be considered.
That said, longtime stars like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan are still producing and are always going to garner some All-Star respect from coaches. It wouldn't be a total shock if one or both of them end up on the final roster.
As NBA reporter Jessica Camerato pointed out, they were among a group of veterans who still generated a lot of fan votes, as well:
Those type of debates add a little extra intrigue to the reserve announcement, which will come on Thursday (Jan. 30).