The NBA All-Star Game will be in the Big Easy in February, and voting is underway.
Personally, I dislike fan voting, because players are selected solely based on their popularity—such as the year Vince Carter led all voting despite being injured, or Yao Ming's perpetual election as starting center despite his mediocre play.
Instead of letting the fans choose the starters, the coaches should be selected first, and then allowed to pick their rosters. If they pick more than two of their own players, they will be removed from the bench.
Here are my starters and bench players for both the Western and Eastern Conference:
WESTERN CONFERENCE (Greg Popovich, Coach)
There is no question here as to who the starter should be. The back-to-back MVP is moving steadily though the season and has brought Shawn Marion back to All-Star status. Nash makes his teammates better than they would otherwise be and makes the Suns a title contender for as long as he's there.
(27.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 2.1 SPG)
If Tracy McGrady was still leading the league in scoring, he would've been in this spot. Even though Kobe doesn't want to play for the Lakers, he's still dominating the Association. The playoffs are not in L.A.'s future at this point, and Kobe needs to be around winning players. But he'll keep going until the wheels fall off and he's gone.
(21.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG)
Dirk who? That's what Mavs fans are asking when J-Ho takes the floor. He's consistently improved his play every season, and has assumed the role of the Mavericks' leading man this year. If he stays in Dallas long enough (a Kobe Bryant deal might be still in the works), he will take over as the future of the franchise.
(18.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG)
Duncan may be the best PF in history, and is probably the smartest. He has quietly dominated his position for the last 10 years. No other player should ever be starting at this position (Sorry, Dirk). He produces every night in the regular season—but when it's time to get his team through the playoffs, nobody does it better.
(22.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG)
I have to give Yao his due respect. He's improved every season and will continue to do so over the course of his career. The Rockets have a chance to go deep in the playoffs this year—and if Yao keeps turning up the heat, Houston will no longer have a problem getting out of the first round.
PG: Chris Paul (Hornets), Deron Williams (Jazz)
SG: Tracy McGrady (Rockets), Kevin Martin (Kings), Allen Iverson (Nuggets)
SF: Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets), Shawn Marion (Suns)
PF: Amare Stoudamire (Suns), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
C: Marcus Camby (Nuggets)
EASTERN CONFERENCE (Doc Rivers, Coach)
(11.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 10.4 APG)
He's getting older, but even at 34 Kidd is still one of the best PGs in the league. The Nets are a contender in the East because of him. Still putting up triple-double numbers nearly every night, he continues to keep his team in the game with his knowledge and incredible awarness on the floor.
(19.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG)
The best shooter in the league has a new team—and for the first time in his career is playing for a title contender. All Allen has to do in Boston is catch the ball and shoot—he no longer has to carry a whole team like he did in Seattle. His numbers are up and the pressure is off, because he has the easiest job a SG has ever had—which his team proves every night.
(31.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 8.1 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.6 BPG)
After the embarrassment of last season's Finals, King James is taking out his frustration all over the league. Last years ASG MVP might get the nod this lead for the Regular Season trophy, as he dominates opponents with ease. The Cavs won't make the Finals again this year, but they will stay in the hunt because of his play.
(20.9 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.5 BPG)
The Big Ticket punched himself out of Minny and printed out a new one in Beantown. I wouldn't say he's playing like the KG of old—because every year he gives 100 percent. However, this year he is leaving his mark on the East. He and the Celtics can damn near smell the Finals this year. All Garnett has to do is continue to put up MVP-caliber numbers.
(23.4 PPG, 14.5 RPG, 2.5 BPG)
Move over Shaq—there's a new beast in the East. Dwight Howard has the Orlando Magic up with the Celtics at the top of the East. Howard has stepped his game up every season, and will compete with Lebron for the MVP. He finally has the help (Rashard Lewis) and the coach (Stan Van Gundy) to succeed. This year's ASG is Howard's chance to wake up the league and REALLY show them what the Eastern Conference is made of.
PG:Chauncey Billups (Pistons), Dwayne Wade (Heat)
SG: Michael Redd (Bucks), Joe Johnson (Hawks)
SF: Paul Pierce (Celtics), Caron Butler (Wizards), Richard Jefferson (Nets)
PF: Josh Smith (Hawks), Chris Bosh (Raptors)
C: Shaquille O'Neal (Heat)
Sorry Western Conference fans, but the East might take this one. Give me your feedback, folks—I'm all ears!!!!!