Every year, it seems that the All-Star game becomes more and more of a popularity contest, and less of a game featuring the NBA's best. There are several factors that affect who makes an All-Star game, the main one being the biased voting of fans. You know that whenever Yao Ming is on the ballot, he will be receiving tons of votes, even if his play doesn't equal that of players he is chosen over. Here are the players that should make the All-Star team because of their play and not their popularity.
Rajon Rondo, Celtics
PPG: 10.9 APG: 14.9 RPG: 4.9 SPG: 2.6 48% FG 40% 3P 46% FT
With his play this season, including an NBA record of assists in the first week, Rondo is definitely the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. He will most likely be starting at this year's All-Star game, despite the popularity of Derrick Rose.
Rondo has cemented himself as one of the top defenders and passers in the game. And despite his inability to shoot, he is considered one of the top all-around point guards.
Dwyane Wade, Heat
PPG: 24 APG: 3.5 RPG: 6 SPG: 1.2 BPG: 1.1 49% FG 33% 3P 75% FT
No matter how good someone else's stats could be, there is no way that Wade won't get voted into the starting lineup of the All-Star team. As one of the most popular players in the league, and arguably its best player, Wade will receive plenty of votes this year.
And that's not to say that he isn't worthy of the position, because his stats prove that he is. Wade is one of the best all-around players ever, and will be in All-Star games for years to come.
Dwight Howard, Magic
PPG: 21.2 RPG: 10.9 APG: 1.5 BPG: 2.8 SPG: 1 57% FG 53% FT
This is definitely the easiest position to predict in the East. Howard is always near the top of the vote of both conferences, and this year will be no different, even with the emergence of Al Horford and Brook Lopez.
Lopez and Horford are both playing for smaller market teams that aren't as good as the Magic. And they aren't putting up stats close to Howard's as well.
LeBron James, Heat
PPG: 22.1 APG: 8.9 RPG: 5.8 SPG: 1.9 44% FG 25% 3P 77% FT
There is no doubt that LeBron James will be starting in every All-Star game in the near future. He is considered the best player in the league by many, and has the stats to back it up. Although playing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will hurt his stats and MVP chances, he will still be considered one of the best.
With his combination of athleticism and basketball vision, he will be a dominant player for years to come, and no one will challenge his position as the starting Eastern Conference small forward.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks
PPG: 21.6 RPG: 8.1 APG: 2.3 BPG: 1.8 SPG: 1 47% FG 71% FT
This is by far the most challenging position to predict in the East, but considering that Bosh is the third option in Miami and Kevin Garnett is declining, combined with the popularity of the New York Knicks, my bet would be that STAT is the starting power forward for the Eastern Conference this season.
He definitely deserves it with his strong play this season while being the star of the Knicks. Bosh and Garnett don't even come close to having his stats, and neither of them are the focal point of their team's offense like Amar'e is.
Derrick Rose, Bulls
John Wall, Wizards
Paul Pierce, Celtics
Kevin Garnett, Celtics
Brook Lopez, Nets
Joe Johnson, Hawks
Chris Bosh, Heat
Notable Mentions: Josh Smith, Hawks; Carlos Boozer, Bulls; Danny Granger, Pacers; Andre Igoudala, 76ers
Injuries, off years and the emergence of new talent have left a couple of familiar faces off of this year's Eastern Conference team. Although there is still plenty of time before the coaches make their final decision, this is a basic outline of what the teams will look like. I think Josh Smith might take Bosh's spot if his play does not improve, but I think that Pierce and Garnett are locks because of reputation, as well as Rose because of his play. Lopez, Smith, Johnson and Wall are subject to change.
Chris Paul, Hornets
PPG: 17.8 APG: 10.2 RPG: 4.8 SPG: 2.5 52% FG 50% 3P 85% FT
Although Deron Williams and Steve Nash are also great options here, CP3 is having the best season of the three, as well as leading his team to the best record in the league. Chris Paul combines the passing ability of Nash with the scoring ability of D-Will, which puts him on top for right now. Even though it can be argued that Deron Williams is the better player, Paul has had the type of season that will get him the votes for the starting position.
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
PPG: 26.3 APG: 5 RPG: 6.2 SPG: 1.1 45% FG 31% 3P 88% FT
There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant is the best shooting guard in the West, and there is no doubt that he will be starting in the All-Star game. The combination of his skills and popularity make him a lock for the starting position for as long as he wants. Even if he wasn't so popular, his stats this season are way better than any other shooting guard in the West.
Andrew Bynum, Lakers
PPG: 15 RPG: 8.3 APG: 1 BPG: 1.4 57% FG 74% FT
This is the weakest of the All-Star positions right now due to the health of Yao Ming, Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden and basically ever center in the West. The reason I chose Bynum is because Yao and 'Drew are the two best and most popular centers in the West when healthy, and I have a feeling that Yao won't be healthy for the All-Star game. Bynum should return in two weeks or so, which gives him about 50 days to prove himself worthy of the spot. If he averages around 14 and 8, then I feel he will be guaranteed the spot. The other contenders are Chris Kaman, Nene and Emeka Okafor, but even though they are all good players, I can't imagine any of them making the All-Star team.
Statistics are from 2009-2010 season
Kevin Durant, Thunder
PPG: 28 RPG: 6.4 APG: 2.6 SPG: 1.4 42% FG 30% 3P 92% FT
While I believe that Carmelo Anthony is still a better player, Durant is by far the more popular player at this point, which means he will get the votes. Durantula is the "hot" player in the NBA right now, and most NBA fans like him. But, that's not to say that he doesn't deserve it, because he is more deserving of 'Melo at this point in the season.
The reigning NBA scoring champ will get the first of many All-Star game starts, while also being one of the top vote getters overall.
Pau Gasol, Lakers
PPG: 22.9 RPG: 12.2 APG: 3.9 BPG: 1.5 55% FG 79% FT
Now considered the best big man in the NBA by many, Pau seems to be a lock for the starting power forward spot, narrowly beating Dirk Nowitzki. Gasol is arguably the best low post player in the NBA, as well as having one of the best mid range shots of anyone in the NBA, not just big men.
He is also proving the doubters wrong with his tough play and high rebounding numbers. And to top it all off, he plays for the Lakers who are the most popular team in the NBA and will receive tons of votes.
Deron Williams, Jazz
Brandon Roy, Blazers
Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
Tim Duncan, Spurs
Steve Nash, Suns
Rudy Gay, Grizzlies
Notable Mentions: Zach Randolph, Grizzlies; Chauncey Billups, Nuggets; Jason Richardson, Suns; Blake Griffin, Clippers; Eric Gordon, Clippers
D-Will, Dirk and 'Melo are locks for the All-Star team, whether it is starting or coming off the bench. Duncan will make it because of his reputation and solid stats. Nash is still dominating and Gay has had a breakout season after signing a max contract extension.
PG- Rajon Rondo, Celtics
SG- Dwyane Wade, Heat
SF- LeBron James, Heat
PF- Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks
C- Dwight Howard, Magic
6- Derrick Rose, Bulls
7- Paul Pierce, Celtics
8- Kevin Garnett, Celtics
9- John Wall, Wizards
10- Chris Bosh, Heat
11- Joe Johnson, Hawks
12- Brook Lopez, Nets
PG- Chris Paul, Hornets
SG- Kobe Bryant, Lakers
SF- Kevin Durant, Thunder
PF- Pau Gasol, Lakers
C- Andrew Bynum, Lakers
6- Deron Williams, Jazz
7- Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
8- Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
9- Brandon Roy, Blazers
10- Tim Duncan, Spurs
11- Steve Nash, Suns
12- Rudy Gay, Grizzlies