The 2014 NBA All-Star Game rosters are officially set.
Last week, the fan-voted starting lineups were revealed. But the combination of transcendent play from the game's top stars along with certain players being far more visible to the casual fan tends to make those selections fairly predictable on an annual basis.
But the selection of the 14 reserves, who are voted on by the league's head coaches, brings with it recognition for players who sometimes fall too far under the radar. That, and lots of debate.
The reserves were announced Thursday night, Jan. 30, so let's take a closer look at the complete rosters.
|BC||Stephen Curry||24.1 PPG, 9.2 APG, 4.5 RPG, 22.87 PER, .534 TS%|
|BC||Kobe Bryant||13.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG, 11.3 PER .505 TS%|
|FC||Kevin Durant||31.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.2 APG, 31.17 PER, .645 TS%|
|FC||Blake Griffin||22.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, 22.97 PER, .585 TS%|
|FC||Kevin Love||25.0 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 4.1 APG, 26.89 PER, .583 TS%|
|BC||Chris Paul||19.6 PPG, 11.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, 27.47 PER, .578 TS%|
|BC||Damian Lillard||20.6 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.5 RPG, 18.87 PER, .571 TS%|
|BC||Tony Parker||18.1 PPG, 6.2 APG, 2.4 RPG, 20.12 PER, .571 TS%|
|BC||James Harden||23.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.9 RPG, 21.12 PER, .593 TS%|
|FC||LaMarcus Aldridge||24.3 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 23.30 PER, .518 TS%|
|FC||Dirk Nowitzki||21.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.9 APG, 23.9 PER, .589 TS%|
|FC||Dwight Howard||18.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 21.12 PER, .581 TS%|
Quick proposal to entirely change the All-Star game format sometime in the next week and implement it in New Orleans: the Western Conference builds two separate teams, who then battle it out in a semifinal to determine who plays the East on Sunday.
There are just too many deserving players to limit the roster to 12.
Although it's hard to go wrong with most of the head coaches' selections, it still meant that players such as Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Goran Dragic were left out.
Although Boogie and Dragic have both been tremendous, Davis' exclusion might be most difficult to swallow. He's averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and a league-high 3.3 blocks on the season, and his athleticism and agility at the frontcourt position would be perfect for a wide-open All-Star game.
Fortunately for New Orleans fans hoping to see the hometown kid in the game, the New York Post's Tim Bontemps sees Davis as the potential replacement for an injured Kobe Bryant:
I will be floored if Anthony Davis isn't an All-Star. That said, he would be a lock to be named as Kobe Bryant's injury replacement.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 30, 2014
The rest of the West is just silly good.
Chris Paul has been the best point guard in the NBA when healthy, Dirk Nowitzki is so very quietly close to a 50-40-90 campaign, and LaMarcus Aldridge is an MVP candidate in the midst of the best offensive season of his career.
NBA.com's Zach Lowe summed it up best:
There are no "snubs" in the West. Just really fantastic players stuck in the wrong conference.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 31, 2014
|BC||Dwyane Wade||18.7 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.7 RPG, 21.4 PER, .578 TS%|
|BC||Kyrie Irving||21.5 PPG, 6.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 20.28 PER, .524 TS%|
|FC||LeBron James||26.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 6.4 APG, 28.8 PER, .661 TS%|
|FC||Paul George||23.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 22.10 PER, .580 TS%|
|FC||Carmelo Anthony||27.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 24.96 PER, .553 TS%|
|BC||John Wall||19.8 PPG, 8.5 APG, 4.4 RPG, 19.91 PER, .521 TS%|
|BC||DeMar DeRozan||21.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 17.99 PER, .517 TS%|
|BC||Joe Johnson||15.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 14.9 PER, .553 TS%|
|FC||Chris Bosh||16.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 20.55 PER, .612 TS%|
|FC||Roy Hibbert||11.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 16.52 PER, .521 TS%|
|FC||Joakim Noah||11.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 19.09 PER, .518 TS%|
|FC||Paul Millsap||17.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 20.39 PER, .550 TS%|
Of course, while the West had to leave out a handful of worthy candidates, the pickings weren't nearly as fruitful over in the East, a conference that features just five squads over .500.
That doesn't mean there aren't some compelling—and deserving—stars on the East bench, though.
A couple of first-time choices, John Wall and Paul Millsap, headline the group.
Wall is averaging career highs in points (19.8), assists (8.5) and steals (1.9), and Millsap is producing across the board (17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.2 blocks per contest) while helping the Atlanta Hawks stay afloat despite injuries to Al Horford and Jeff Teague.
But then things get a little ugly with Joe Johnson making the squad over Kyle Lowry, which, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, was the closest vote in the East:
Brooklyn's Joe Johnson over Toronto's Kyle Lowry was the closest vote among the Eastern coaches, league source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 31, 2014
That doesn't really make it a better decision, though, as Lowe simply puts it:
Joe Johnson over Kyle Lowry is a complete joke.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 31, 2014
Johnson has been solid for the suddenly surging Nets, averaging 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists, but there were better choices out there. Most notably Lowry, who out-paces him in each of those categories (16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists) as well as steals (1.6 per game to 0.6) and PER (20.4 to 14.9).
Lowry has easily been one of the league's best point guards for the 24-21 Raptors, and it's a travesty he's not on the squad.
First, let's start with a fact. Since the turn of the century, a player coming off the bench has won All-Star game MVP just twice: Shaquille O'Neal in 2004 when the fans voted Yao Ming in ahead of him, and, once again, Shaquille O'Neal in 2009 when the fans voted Yao Ming in ahead of him. In '09, Shaq shared the award with Kobe Bryant.
So, it's pretty safe to say it will be a starter, and considering the discrepancy in talent, it's safe to say the winner will be from the West—although the more talented team doesn't always win exhibition games like this.
Who is your MVP pick?
It wouldn't be a stretch to see someone like Chris Paul—who was a lock as a starter before suffering an injury—come off the bench and win the award, but for now, we'll assume his minutes will at least be somewhat limited if he plays.
Not going with Kevin Durant, who is playing on an other-planetary level right now and has made a habit of dropping 30 on a consistent basis in All-Star games, seems a little blasphemous, but I've got my eye on the sharpest shooter in the league.
In a fast-paced game that will feature little attention on defense, Curry—who will be intent on putting on a show in his first All-Star game—will thrive. He'll have the open court to display his passing ability and the breathing room—as if he needs any—to jack up as many 30-foot threes as he wants.
This is going to depend on how many minutes Paul will receive, but a 20-10 or even 30-10 game from Curry doesn't seem out of the question.