The 25 Best Stats of the NBA's 25 All-Stars
The rosters for the world's greatest pickup game are finally set in stone.
At least until some injuries reshuffle the ranks.
The NBA announced the reserves for the 2015 All-Star Game on Thursday, a group highlighted by three Atlanta Hawks (Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford) and three first-time selections (Teague, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler).
As usual, the collection came with a certain number of snubs and surprises. But we're not hear to nitpick the decisions—there's plenty of second-guessing being done already. Rather, we want to celebrate those voted in by fans and selected by coaches by spotlighting our favorite statistics of the 2015 All-Star class.
East Starter John Wall: 25 Double-Doubles
At this point of the season, 25 double-doubles is an excellent number for an NBA big man. Only five forwards and centers currently have more.
But John Wall isn't a post player who stumbles into 10 boards a night. He's the tactical floor general for the Washington Wizards and the league leader with 10.1 assists per game. His 25 double-doubles are four more than the next-closest guards: Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets (21 each).
Assuming Wall did the bare minimum to hit this mark (10 points, 10 assists), he'd have a hand in at least 30 points per game.
But the former No. 1 pick isn't "scraping by" with that figure. Instead, he's putting up 17.2 points a night with his own scoring and creating another 23.6 points with his assists. He has 10 outings with 20-plus points and 10-plus assists, tied for the most with Western Conference All-Star starter Stephen Curry.
East Starter Kyle Lowry: 19.4 Points Per Game
Did Kobe Bryant trademark the "Vino" nickname? If not, someone needs to get it in Kyle Lowry's possession. The 28-year-old continues to get better with age.
For the second consecutive season, NBA fans are seeing the Toronto Raptors point guard like never before. Both his 19.4 points-per-game scoring average and 21.8 player efficiency rating are personal bests for the nine-year veteran.
His resume is long enough that his ceiling should already be set. But every time you think he's reached his peak, he finds a way to keep climbing. There may have been some concern that last season's breakout had something to do with his impending free agency, but he got paid last summer—and has upped the ante since.
"He is having one of the best seasons in franchise history," the National Post's Eric Koreen wrote of Lowry.
At some point, one would assume Father Time will tighten his grip on Lowry. Then again, the bulldog point guard doesn't seem to play by the same biological rules as the rest of us.
East Starter LeBron James: Two Wins, Eight Losses
That's how the Cleveland Cavaliers have fared without LeBron James this season. The first James-less victory came against a Charlotte Hornets team that had lost four games in a row. The other, on Jan. 28 against Portland, required an NBA season-high 55 points from point guard Kyrie Irving.
Even without an established criteria in place for the NBA MVP award, you'd think Cleveland's performance with and without James would make for quite the compelling argument. The Cavs are 15.5 points per 100 possessions better when he plays. They also own a .676 winning percentage when the King takes the floor.
"He's the greatest player in our game, and...his performance has been as high level as ever," Cavs coach David Blatt said, per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "And you don't have to look very far at our record to see what impact he has on this team when he's playing and not playing."
Since taking a two-week break to recover from multiple injuries, James has averaged an absurd 30.5 points on 50.6 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.0 steals. A sore wrist sidelined him for Cleveland's last game, but that's been the only thing capable of stopping him lately.
East Starter Carmelo Anthony: 17.3 Assist Percentage
Record-wise, this year's New York Knicks will almost assuredly be the worst team of Carmelo Anthony's career. Last season was his first on a losing team. If the Knicks continue at their current pace, they'll be his first with a sub-.200 winning percentage.
Given the dearth of talent around him, one might expect him to go rogue and try doing everything on his own. After all, he's been criticized for taking a black-hole approach on far better teams before.
However, that's simply not the case. Yes, Anthony holds sizable leads over his teammates in points (24.3) and field-goal attempts (20.0) per game. But despite having little scoring help—undrafted rookie Langston Galloway ranks second on the team with 12.8 points a night—Anthony has posted the fourth-highest assist percentage of his career.
Contrary to popular belief, the ball flows better when he's on the floor. The Knicks average over a full assist more per 100 possessions when he plays (17.7) than when he doesn't (16.5).
He's making a lot of effective passes. The three-point percentages of Tim Hardaway Jr., Pablo Prigioni and Shane Larkin and field-goal percentages of Amar'e Stoudemire, Quincy Acy and Jason Smith substantially rise off Anthony's passes.
It would be hard to knock Anthony for hunting shots considering the quality of his supporting cast. But it's even easier to praise him for trying to make those players better.
East Starter Pau Gasol: 11.9 Rebounds, 2.2 Blocks
Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol shouldn't be able to set career highs anymore. As now a five-time All-Star and two-time world champion, not to mention he's 34 years old, his best playing days should be behind him.
Apparently, he missed the memo.
His 14th NBA season will be his first as an All-Star starter. And this isn't a lifetime achievement award. The 7-footer has simply been that dominant.
It's hard to overlook the fact that he is scoring more than he has in four years (18.3 points) and shooting better than he has in three (48.5 field-goal percentage). But it's mind-boggling to consider how much high-level mileage he's logged and still found a way to post personal bests in boards and blocks.
These aren't just good numbers for him; they are great marks for anyone. He ranks fourth overall in total rebounds and fifth in total blocks.
"Pau's been playing like Pau. It's phenomenal," former teammate Kobe Bryant said, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. "He looks healthy, he looks strong and he's moving very well."
Maybe Gasol's offseason flirtation with the San Antonio Spurs allowed him to swipe some of the Alamo City's anti-aging cream.
East Reserve Jeff Teague: 3.8 Offensive Win Shares
Point guard Jeff Teague makes two things work for the Atlanta Hawks.
The first is their explosive offense, which has tallied 110.6 points per 100 possessions over their franchise-record 17-game winning streak.
He's the proverbial head of the snake, a constant penetration threat who puts defenses on their heels and exposes them to Atlanta's potent passing attack. Teams can't afford to let him slip past the first line of coverage, as he's shooting a career-best 64.2 percent within three feet and posting a personal-high .383 free-throw rate.
But planning to stop his attacks and actually keeping in front of his lightning-quick first step are two different things. And that leads into the second thing he does for Atlanta: giving validity to those San Antonio Spurs comparisons. It isn't easy to find a set of twins between the rosters, but the similarities between him and Spurs point guard Tony Parker are striking.
"Both point guards rely on their breakneck speed, burning defenders on the pick-and-roll and in transition," Hardwood Paroxysm's David Vertsberger wrote. "Both were inconsistent with their jumpers in the early going, but improved over the course of their careers. Both have benefited hugely from their similar systems."
Like Parker, Teague is the straw stirring Atlanta's drink. As such, he's already produced more offensive win shares than he had in any previous season and the 14th-most in 2014-15.
East Reserve Kyrie Irving: 55 Points in a Game
Kyrie Irving's first half of the 2014-15 campaign has been far greater than a single-game outburst, but it's kind of hard to ignore the season's high mark for scoring.
Everything about that night was incredible.
He misfired on his first seven field-goal attempts and then shot 17-of-29 (58.6 percent). He splashed in a franchise-record 11 threes, none bigger than his long-distance dagger to snap a 94-all deadlock with six seconds remaining.
Oh, by the way, he also dished out five assists, tracked down four rebounds and came away with two steals. And he managed all this on a night when James didn't play and Kevin Love scored just 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
"What Kyrie did is for the pantheon," Blatt said, per McMenamin. "That's something that everybody here in Cleveland will always be able to relish and treasure."
During Cleveland's current eight-game winning streak, Irving has averaged 28.4 points and posted a sizzling .529/.554/.889 shooting slash. As magical as that 55-point eruption was, Uncle Drew is capable of basketball wizardry on any given night.
East Reserve Jimmy Butler: 123.9 Miles Traveled
There might be do-it-all players similar to Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler, but no one has carried a heavier burden this season.
The 25-year-old leads the league in total minutes (1,790), minutes per game (39.5), total miles traveled and distance traveled per game (2.8 miles). Only four other players have covered more than 110 miles this season, and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is the only other one above 115 (118.2).
Truth be told, Butler's advantage in ground covered somehow looks deceptively low. It's anyone's guess how high it would be had he not missed four games due to injury.
Butler is always playing at a high intensity. He not only leads the Bulls in scoring at 20.1 points per game, he's also the team's top perimeter stopper (if not best defender overall). He doesn't take plays off and catches shorter breaks on the bench than anyone in the league.
It's an exhaustive workload to even think about, let alone execute.
East Reserve Dwyane Wade: 22.5 Player Efficiency Rating
Last season, Dwyane Wade had LeBron's help in carrying a 54-win Miami Heat team to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals. This year, James isn't around, and Miami is on pace for only 36 wins.
Guess which of the two has been more efficient for Wade. His 22.5 PER suggests it's somehow this season. (He had a 22.0 PER in 2013-14.)
Wade's accomplishments this season are nothing short of remarkable.
He has neither a reliable point guard to carry the playmaking duties nor a serviceable backup to pick up the slack behind him. Miami's second scorer, Chris Bosh, is having his worst shooting season since 2004-05. The No. 3 guy, Luol Deng, has been a roller-coaster ride of huge scoring nights (seven games with 23-plus points) and uncomfortably quiet ones (11 with double-digit points).
That means defenses can—and have—key on stopping Wade. Yet the 33-year-old remains one of the most productive, efficient guards in the business. He leads the Heat in points (21.4) and assists (5.4). His 48.7 field-goal percentage is the highest of the nine NBA guards averaging 20-plus points.
But All-Star fans might not catch a glimpse of Wade. He is currently sidelined with a strained right hamstring and said he expects to be out least two to three weeks, per Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald.
East Reserve Paul Millsap: 3.2 Assists Per Game
For the equal-opportunity Hawks, it's all about placing the whole above the different individual parts. Paul Millsap's stat sheet abides by the same principle.
His numbers don't jump off the page on their own. His 17.2 points-per-game scoring average is solid, but it ranks behind 33 other players. Ditto for his 8.1 rebounds per game, which sits tied for 25th overall.
His 3.2 assists check in even further down the list, though they do mark a new career high for the nine-year veteran. It's a good number for a big man, especially one this active and versatile on both sides of the ball.
But again, it's imperative to view Millsap's entire stat sheet as a single entity, the likes of which don't come around often. Over the past decade, only three players have posted single-season marks of at least 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists and 1.5 steals. Millsap is on pace to be the decade's only player to have done it twice, which perhaps best captures the type of force he's become since signing with Atlanta.
"I thought he was a value signing for the Hawks in the summer of 2013," wrote Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Turns out he was one of the greatest buys since Microsoft."
East Reserve Al Horford: 55.1 Field-Goal Percentage
For an NBA center, Al Horford's success rate from the field doesn't initially seem outlandish—until you factor in the type of shots he's taking and making.
Even without that caveat, he's been one of the league's most consistent finishers this season. Only seven players, all forwards and centers, have posted better marks from the field.
But Horford isn't playing the same game as the others. DeAndre Jordan leads the NBA with a 73.0 percent conversion rate, but his average attempt comes 1.1 feet from the rim. That's a similar theme among the top five field-goal percentage leaders: Tyson Chandler (66.9 percent, 2.5 feet), Mason Plumlee (59.4, 2.9), Dwight Howard (57.5, 3.2) and Amir Johnson (57.4, 5.7).
Horford is nipping at their heels in terms of consistency, but his shots are originating a career-long 11.1 feet from the basket. He's shooting 51.9 percent on looks from 16 feet to the three-point line, and he's even 7-of-21 on the season beyond the arc.
"I’m taking good shots within the offense," Horford said, per Matt Winkeljohn for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I have a good rhythm right now."
Fans need to get used to seeing Horford's name near the top of this list. He's having his best shooting month in January (59.0 percent), and he keeps getting hotter (74.1 percent over his last eight games).
East Reserve Chris Bosh: 28.7 Usage Percentage
Leading an offense must be like riding a bicycle. Despite spending the last four seasons as Miami's third wheel, Bosh is back in the driver's seat—and looks like he never left.
His usage percentage is identical to the one he posted during his final year in Toronto. He plays a little differently now than he did then—he's made 53 threes this season and attempted 22 in 2009-10—but he's scoring at a similar rate. He's putting up 21.3 points a night, compared to 24.0, but his main running mate has gone from being Andrea Bargnani to Wade.
It's been a taxing year in South Beach with the roster ripped apart by injuries. But Bosh has handled the turmoil as well as can be expected. He can share the spotlight when his top teammates are out there or have it to himself when they're not.
He's been a better presence on the glass than his 7.5 rebounds-per-game average would indicate. When he's been within 3.5 feet of a potential rebound, he's come away with it 65.2 percent of the time. That's a higher rate than the ones posted by Tyson Chandler (64.6), Kevin Love (63.5) and Kenneth Faried (59.4), among others.
Bosh is producing like a franchise player again, which is a testament to his talent given how much time he spent away from that role.
West Starter Stephen Curry: 62.7 True Shooting Percentage
This isn't about Golden State Warriors sniper Stephen Curry's historically accurate three-point cannon, but rather, how he's used the threat of that weapon to unlock other areas of his game.
Whatever defensive game plan that exists on Curry—and doesn't involve crossed fingers—has centered around running him off the three-point line. He hasn't always been the most reliable finisher around the rim, so there was more to the strategy than simply limiting his damage from distance.
But that's changing. Dramatically.
Prior to this season, he was a career 60.6 percent shooter within three feet. Now, he's converting 70.8 percent of those looks. And defenses are doomed if they put the career 89.9 percent foul shooter at the charity stripe. Playing Curry aggressively now includes its own set of risks.
"Opponents know the scouting report on Curry, and they're loathe to let him get loose from long range," wrote Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes. "Only now, when they run him off the line and send him right into the teeth of the defense, Curry's the one taking a bite."
This has been Curry's worst three-point shooting season (39.1 percent), but his most effective shooting campaign overall due to the diversity in his offense.
West Starter Kobe Bryant: Two Triple-Doubles
Kobe Bryant had a season for the ages, even if it was the third consecutive one prematurely ended by injury, according to ESPN.com. A torn rotator cuff is responsible for shutting down this one and keeping him out of the 2015 All-Star Game.
As he has throughout his career, the 36-year-old gave the Los Angeles Lakers everything he had and then some. He led the team in points (22.3), minutes (34.5) and field-goal attempts (20.4), despite having problems with his shoulder since preseason.
Coach Byron Scott talked about starting the scorer at point guard, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Everyone had a good laugh at the idea—except Bryant. He accepted the challenge and averaged 6.9 assists over his last 18 games, a number that would put him in front of James Harden (6.8), Damian Lillard (6.2), Mike Conley (5.6) and Kyrie Irving (5.2), among others.
During that stretch, Bryant had two points-assists-rebounds triple-doubles. And he joined some historical company by doing so. He became only the third player age 36 or older with multiple triple-doubles in the same season, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Information).
The Mamba hasn't lost all his venom yet, but his body has limited how often he can use it.
West Starter Anthony Davis: 31.9 Player Efficiency Rating
You could throw a dart at Anthony Davis' stat sheet and likely come away with a ridiculous number. In terms of individual play, no one has had a more impressive season than The Brow.
He's the only NBA player with top-10 rankings in points (24.5, fourth), rebounds (10.4, ninth) and blocks (2.9, first). He's also the only one sitting inside the top 20 in both blocks and steals (1.6, 17th). Davis sits second in offensive win shares (6.8) and sixth in defensive win shares (2.6). James Harden is the only other player in the top six of both categories.
"I think he's the best player in the game," Warriors associate head coach Alvin Gentry said of Davis, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. ... "He's so talented that it's scary. To me, if you were starting your team today, he would be your No. 1 choice in the NBA."
Davis does it all on both sides of the ball. It comes as no surprise, then, that he grades out extremely well in all-encompassing categories. ESPN.com's real plus-minus has Davis third behind Harden and Curry. Davis' .299 win shares per 48 minutes are the most in the league.
Have we mentioned that Davis doesn't turn 22 until March? Probably not, because that's downright terrifying to think about.
West Starter Blake Griffin: 407 Field Goals
Our apologies to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin for pinning what appears to be a volume statistic to his name. We promise it's so much better than it sounds.
What if, instead of 407 field goals, it read "league-high 407 field goals"? Would that make it look better? Now, add this element to the equation: Griffin ranks 14th in minutes per game. He isn't stuffing the stat sheet due to an oversized role; he's maximizing the playing time that comes his way.
And he's attacking in different ways than he has before.
Hopefully the "Griffin only dunks" crowd has officially disbanded at this point. But if it's somehow still clinging to life, just realize that his field-goal attempts have come from an average of 10.5 feet away from the basket. He might have some serious hops, but he's not throwing down from that distance.
In fact, he's not slamming down dunks nearly as often as he used to. For the third straight season, he's averaging fewer dunks per game (1.37) than the previous year (2.40).
If anyone thought that would sap his production, well, it hasn't. He might be shooting a career-low 49.8 percent from the field, but he's making a bigger overall impact in the box score. He's on pace to become the decade's first player not named LeBron to average at least 22 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
West Starter Marc Gasol: 5.2 Points Per 100 Possessions
For the Memphis Grizzlies, that's what their offense receives when All-Star center Marc Gasol takes the floor.
Over the past few seasons, Memphis has been a playoff pest for its pesky defense. But contrary to the cliche, history says it takes balance—not defensive dominance alone—to capture a world title. The Grizzlies have found that balance and with it the second-best record in the Western Conference.
There's a subtlety to Gasol's game that doesn't always translate to the stat sheet. He's showing there better now than ever (career-high 18.7 points, 3.8 assists), but even those numbers don't capture his overall impact.
With the slick-passing, sweet-shooting center in the mix, the Grizzlies have tallied 106.9 points per 100 possessions. That number would rank seventh overall. But when the big guy takes a break, so does this offense. Memphis has managed only 101.7 points per 100 possessions without him, which would check in at No. 18.
In addition to his points, Gasol's 22.6 PER is also a personal best. His 50.0 field-goal percentage is as high as it's been since 2010-11. And all of this offensive talk involves a former Defensive Player of the Year.
The Grizzlies look like a two-way beast, and they can thank their two-way giant for that.
West Reserve Chris Paul: 4.52 Assists Per Turnover
Chris Paul is a surgeon with the basketball.
There's a wafer-thin margin of error in what he does. He welcomes defensive attention and demands it as a 17.5 points-per-game scorer and 47.1 percent shooter. But it's all part of a larger chess game, one in which the defense often doesn't realize it's playing until it's too late.
Paul carves up the defense with a butcher's precision and throws bullets through windows most don't even see. It should be a risk-reward style of play, but his basketball genius and ability to manipulate a defense how he needs to keep the odds from ever shifting out of his favor.
To put it lightly, Paul is a hyperactive passer. He averages the third-most passes per game (72.5), ranks first in secondary assists (2.9) and fourth in assists (9.7). That means he has ample opportunity to lose control, but he's almost robotic when it comes to avoiding mistakes.
Among qualified distributors, Dallas Mavericks reserve J.J. Barea is the only other player with at least four assists for every turnover (4.00). Among starting point guards, Lawson ranks closest to Paul with 3.73 helpers per giveaway.
Few teams, if any, ask more from their point guard than the Clippers do with Paul. And it's debatable whether any NBA club gets more from its floor general.
West Reserve Russell Westbrook: 46.2 Assist Percentage
The Oklahoma City Thunder are backed up against the ropes, but point guard Russell Westbrook isn't going down without a fight.
He's been a vital piece of OKC's offense before, but this team is leaning on him a lot more. Westbrook's career-high 38.3 usage percentage is also the highest in the league. It's probably a problematic level of volume (his field-goal percentage has dipped to 42.5), but he's trying to make the most out of it.
With injuries shuffling Kevin Durant in and out of the lineup, Westbrook has tried to play the part of stabilizing force. He ranks third overall in scoring (25.2 points), first in steals (2.3) and seventh in assists (7.5). This offense suffers a net-loss of 8.3 points per 100 possessions when he takes a seat.
It's a bit surprising that number isn't even higher. Not only is Westbrook a premier scorer, he also paces the entire league in assist percentage. To put the figure in simple terms, he assists on nearly half of his teammates' field goals.
Add his own scoring with what his assists create each game, and he's directly involved in 42.4 points a night. Next time you wonder why he wants the ball in his hand so much, there's your answer.
West Reserve James Harden: 10.0 Win Shares
There's a mathematical formula for calculating win shares, but not everyone has that type of time. For those who only need a general idea of the category, just watch a couple of minutes of the Houston Rockets and their glaringly obvious MVP.
Harden is Houston's offense. He leads the team—and the entire league—in scoring at 27.3 points per game. He also paces the Rockets with 6.8 assists, which have resulted in another 16.8 points a night.
He gives this team an elite offense. The Rockets have posted 107.6 points per 100 possessions over his 1,669 minutes, an offensive efficiency rating that would be the NBA's fifth-best. But when he sits, Houston sinks to an embarrassingly low level, with an offensive rating (91.4) that almost mimics that of the blatantly tanking Philadelphia 76ers (91.0).
And Harden is doing so much more than scoring and setting the table. He logs 36.3 minutes a night, which ranks fifth overall. He covers 2.3 miles per game, which is tied for the 26th-most. While he still has a few defensive lapses, he's competed more consistently at that end and produced the fifth-most defensive win shares (2.7).
He might not always look like the total package, but as this stat suggests, no individual has had a greater impact on his team's success this season.
West Reserve Klay Thompson: 37 Points in a Quarter
There could be so many different angles to discuss regarding Klay Thompson, highlighted by the dramatic strides he's made as an off-the-dribble offensive weapon.
But his record-setting quarter of brilliance on Jan. 23 deserves this spot. It was just that special.
Things happened so quickly. Thompson didn't even attempt a shot through the first two minutes and change of the quarter. He had eight points through the first five minutes and only 10 at the period's halfway point.
Then, he splashed in a three from 25 feet and another from 28 on the next trip. At that point, the Warriors just went into a feed-Klay frenzy, and the Sacramento Kings were powerless to stop it.
"They knew at a certain point all we were doing was dribbling around trying to get him the ball like Will Smith in 'Fresh Prince,'" Stephen Curry said, per Bay Area News Group's Diamond Leung. "Just dribble around, give him the ball, and let him shoot, and they still couldn’t get there fast enough."
Thompson scored 27 points over the final 5:32 of the period. He shot 13-of-13 in the quarter, including 9-of-9 from deep, and assisted on the Warriors' only other field goal in the frame (a Draymond Green layup).
Thompson wound up with a career-high 52 points on the night—his third game with 40-plus points this season—but it was those 12 magical minutes that etched his name in the NBA record books.
West Reserve Kevin Durant: 51.9 Field-Goal Percentage
Kevin Durant has been battling the injury bug all season.
A Jones fracture delayed his 2014-15 debut, a sprained ankle sidelined him later and he's currently dealing with a sprained big toe on his left foot. He's missed 25 of the team's 46 games and logged a career-low 33.1 minutes a night in the ones he's played.
Nothing about this year can be comfortable for him. Not the injuries, not the uphill fight for a playoff spot and certainly not the incessant questions about his free-agency plans—in 2016.
But when his body has allowed him to play, he has managed to turn out the white noise and deliver one of his most efficient seasons to date.
He's shooting a personal-best 51.9 percent from the floor and staying ahead of his career average from distance (39.3 percent, up from 37.8). And it's not as if he's easing his way back into action. He's averaging more points per 36 minutes (27.8) than he did when he captured three straight scoring titles from 2009-2012.
Durant has always made the game look easy, and injuries apparently haven't stripped him of that power.
West Reserve LaMarcus Aldridge: 23 Made Threes
We all had the same thought while watching Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge hang 89 points on Houston over the first two games of the 2014 playoffs: Clearly, this guy is too easy to stop.
Kidding, of course. He's been a handful since he first stepped foot in this league. He averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore in 2007-08 and hasn't fallen below that mark since. If his current production holds up, he'll be the only player to average at least 23 points and 10 boards both this season and last.
He's a 6'11" matchup nightmare. He can bully his way around the low block, pass over the top of double-teams and stick jumpers from anywhere—three-point territory included, as of this season.
He entered 2014-15 with 24 career long-range makes and a single-season high of seven set back in 2008-09. He's drilled 23 shots from distance over 40 games already and converted those looks at a 51.1 percent clip.
Sure, it's a tiny part of his arsenal and may never grow into anything more. But it's still another weapon for a guy who already had plenty to work with.
West Reserve Tim Duncan: 96.3 Defensive Rating
Nothing ages quite like fundamentals. At 38 years young, San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan continues to perform at an elite level.
A glance at his traditional numbers might fool some into thinking his selection was made as recognition for his previous work. His per-game marks aren't bad—14.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists—they just don't quite come off as All-Star-caliber numbers.
Center the focus on the defensive end, though, and Duncan looks like he had an argument to start what will be his 15th All-Star Game.
He has the fifth-highest blocks average at 2.0, and that number would be even higher if Gregg Popovich didn't hold him to only 30.3 minutes a night. Duncan has also held opponents to 46.6 percent shooting at the rim, which is tied for the seventh-best mark among players who face at least six such shots per game.
But it's his defensive rating, which trails only Draymond Green's 96.2, that best captures Duncan's overall impact on that side of the floor. It's an unbelievable feat not only for Duncan's age, but also the fact he's accomplished this while key defenders Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter have both missed extensive time due to injury.
West Reserve DeMarcus Cousins: 22 Games with 20 and 10
If there's a silver lining to injuries at this time of year, it's the openings they potentially create for deserving All-Star candidates who didn't initially get the call. DeMarcus Cousins squeezed his 6'11", 270-pound frame through that opening Friday, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver named Cousins as the replacement for the injured Bryant.
If there's anything surprising about Cousins' selection, it's that it didn't happen sooner.
He's been one of the league's most productive and talented bigs for a while now. But the Sacramento Kings haven't helped their center with an eight-year playoff drought that seems headed for a ninth, and Cousins' on-court outbursts (league-high 16 technical fouls last season) haven't either.
But Cousins has kept his cool this season (one technical every eight games, down from one every 4.4), and his numbers have kept soaring. He ranks sixth overall in points (23.8), third in rebounds (12.3), 12th in blocks (1.6) and sixth in PER (25.2).
There's a consistency in Cousins that isn't seen in many. His 22 games with 20-plus points and 10-plus boards are second only to Davis' 25. And Cousins, who battled a viral infection earlier this season, has hit his mark in 10 fewer outings than Davis.