The NBA's All-Star Game often features the game's most popular players as starters. The reserves are chosen by the coaches (presumably based on their season accomplishments), and their contributions to the game are often more significant than the starters'.
Many of the reserves have something to prove in the contest, as it can serve as a stepping stone of sorts to becoming more of a household name. Many reserves are already immensely popular—Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki, for example—but more casual fans may not recognize the exploits of players like Paul Millsap or DeMar DeRozan.
Millsap and DeRozan are candidates to have strong games coming off the bench, but there are a few other reserves that will completely take over the action and put up ridiculous numbers.
Here's the full list of reserves:
|2014 NBA All-Star Game Reserves|
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|DeMar DeRozan, G (Raptors)*||James Harden, G (Rockets)|
|Joe Johnson, G (Nets)||Damian Lillard, G (Trail Blazers)*|
|John Wall, G (Wizards)*||Tony Parker, G (Spurs)|
|Chris Bosh, F (Heat)||Chris Paul, G (Clippers)|
|Paul Millsap, F (Hawks)*||LaMarcus Aldridge, F (Trail Blazers)|
|Roy Hibbert, C (Pacers)||Anthony Davis, F (Pelicans)*|
|Joakim Noah, C (Bulls)||Dirk Nowitzki, F (Mavericks)|
|Dwight Howard, C (Rockets)|
|*first-time selection, #injured and won't participate. Info via NBA.com|
Saturday night's "Dunker of the Night" in the Slam Dunk Contest, Washington Wizards guard John Wall will be making his first-career appearance in the All-Star Game.
Wall put on a show in the Dunk Contest, including this gem over Wizards' mascot G-Wiz:
Wall is posting his best career numbers this season, scoring 19.8 points and dishing out 8.5 assists per night. He's as flashy as he is efficient at getting the ball in the basket.
His motor and quickness will make him an asset for the Eastern Conference in a game that is notorious for minimal defense. I fully expect Wall to put up numbers that rival that of starting guards Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade.
Don't be surprised if he steals the show.
Roy Hibbert has put up better numbers in the past, but his 2013-14 marks are nothing to sneeze at. He's averaging 11.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per night, but his presence on the defensive end of the floor is what makes him a stand-out in the East.
In a game that will inevitably feature little defense, Hibbert will alter shots in the paint. He's blocking 2.5 blocks per game, and he'll be crucial in limiting the efforts of guards like Damian Lillard and Tony Parker that love to drive to the basket.
I could easily see a performance in which Hibbert blocks upward of four shots while grabbing 12 or more rebounds and scoring 10 points. While it wouldn't win him MVP honors if the East wins, it will certainly be enough to earn the recognition of the fans and analysts.
Look for him to be a game-changer down low.
The best performer off the bench in this game will be Chris Paul—period.
Paul loves to dish the ball around in the flashiest of manners in the All-Star Game, and he'll be setting up his teammates with uncanny looks. Of all the game's stars, Paul is the only one I pin to rack up at least 15 points and 15 assists.
Just take a look at some of Paul's All-Star Game assists from the 2013 event:
Paul will be motivated to play well in front of the New Orleans fans—the same fans that supported him when he got his start in the NBA. He told Yahoo! Sports of the close connection he had with NOLA: "I was really a part of that city," Paul said. "I honestly can't say one negative thing about the city. If it were not for the city of New Orleans, I'm not who I am now. They just embrace you as family."
As one of the game's most popular players, expect him to be a fan-favorite in New Orleans. He'll give his former home fans quite a show.
Anthony Davis is the lone representative of the hometown New Orleans Pelicans. He won't want to disappoint his own fans.
Friday night, in the Rising Stars game, he lit up the Arena with alley-oops, blocks and the same hustle that has endeared him to home fans in just a season and a half.
Expect more of that same style of play in the All-Star Game.
Davis' exploits will be magnified on his home court, but that won't take away from his actual numbers. He'll be heavily utilized under the basket and will certainly make plenty of plays above the rim—making him a candidate for 20 points and 10 boards.
Like Hibbert, Davis will also impact the game defensively. His ability to block shots already places him amongst the best in the NBA.
He'll show that skill off on Sunday night.
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