In about two weeks on January 27th, the starters for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game will be announced live on TNT.
The San Antonio Spurs (30-6) have three of their five starters nominated for the starting lineup of the NBA All-Star Game.
Unfortunately for the three big contributors of the winningest team in the NBA right now,--Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan—a chance at playing on the Western Conference All-Star team might not happen.
The All-Star game, which will be held on February 20th, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, will consist of players that were chosen in two different ways. Starters for the game will be based on a combination of the highest-voted players from each conference by a fan ballot. Head coaches will have chosen backups for each team via votes, as well.
To be quite honest, the leaders for each starting position don’t come as a huge surprise.
When an early glance at the votes were released in December, Celtics’ Rajon Rando and Kevin Garnett, Heat’s Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, and Magic’s Dwight Howard were at the top of the list for the Eastern Conference; likewise, Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, Thunder’s Kevin Durant, Hornets’ Chris Paul and Rockets’ Yao Ming were dominating the votes for the Western Conference.
In early January, the numbers remained mostly the same—the only difference was that Denver’s Carmelo Anthony reached second place as a forward, knocking Gasol down to third. So it really is just a popularity vote—which is fine.
However, for the Spurs’ three greats to even see a glance at the All-Star limelight, it will either take some last-minute convincing to fans and coaches.
He is currently third in the race for a Western Conference guard position; he trails leader Kobe Bryant by about 800,000 votes and Chris Paul by only 200,000.
Although Manu is averaging more points per game than Paul, Paul has twice as many assists as Manu. Their stats are pretty identical, and due to the time limit for voting, Manu might not surpass Paul for the chance to play on the court.
His best chance at being on the roster is if coaches vote him in as a reserve for the Western Conference team.
It doesn’t come as a shock that Parker is trailing behind Spurs teammate Ginobili. However, it is beyond all belief that he is seventh behind Suns' Steve Nash, Jazz's Deron Williams and Thunder's Russell Westbrook—if anything, he should at least be as high as fourth place.
Parker and Nash have a mirror image of each other’s stats, but while Parker has twice as many rebounds as Nash in their last five games, Nash has twice as many assists. Points-wise, they are both averaging 15 points per game.
For two players to be so identical with individual stats, it's shocking to see that one is more desired on an All-Star team.
Assumption would lead fans to believe that Tony Parker’s personal life played a huge aspect in this talented popularity contest.
Like Manu, Parker still might have a chance at being a reserve if coaches can focus on his on-court talent, instead of his off-court affairs—although it’s safe to say, his chances are much more of a long shot than Manu's.
This category is actually a bit more confusing and hard to determine.
Although it seems right that Kevin Durant is first, the second-place position is actually up for grabs. In fact, if Dallas Maverick’s Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t out with a knee injury, the MVP candidate would definitely be worthy of being in the top two.
Regardless, Duncan should a safe bet for third place, following Carmelo Anthony in second, instead of his current position at fourth; however, like his other nominated teammates, he'll rely on the coaches to believe in his talent.
Even then, coaches might play the age factor in this equation, along with several other factors that could distract and deter his chances for the spotlight.
Yes, the nomination list is full of equally matched talent.
It’s obvious that the Spurs have the most wins because of each individual’s talent and contributions to being team players.
It is difficult to admit though that others have bigger fan bases that are intense about the voting process.
As interesting as it would be to have a more diverse list of starters nominated for each conference All-Star team, it’s disappointing to realize that a mash-up of some Heat and Celtics players against a very random and poor Western Conference squad is inevitable for the viewers.
However, due to a possible bench of three overlooked Spurs players in the Western Conference, it is also inevitable that the starters for the West will struggle horribly against the East.