All-Star Weekend is bearing down upon us once more. The annual period where sports fans and sports writers come together to argue about which players did and didn't make the All-Star Team.
"Why is [insert player] in the team, when it is clear than [insert player of almost identical talent] has played much better this season""
"It is clear that [insert foreign player] was only chosen to appease the [insert foreign country] market"
"How can [insert stud of terrible team] have made it when [insert stud of slightly less terrible team] was snubbed?"
Having no interest in adding to the usual All-Star hyperbole, here is a list split in an altogether unique manner - alphabetically*. Who is the best for each letter of the alphabet? You will be surprised how much competition there is for a few of the most popular letters.
So, here they are, the NBA's best, from Amar'e to Žach.
* Player's given names, rather than family names, have been used. This is partly because using given names would be too easy, and partly because it produced more interesting results.
With the season he is having this year, Amar'e is the runaway winner of the this category. Amar'e has found himself energized by his move to Gotham City. While some wondered how much he would score, without the pin point passes of Steve Nash to set him up. All doubters have since been silenced as Amare has put New York on his shoulders and turned them into contenders in the East for the first time in a long time.
- Andrew Bogut
- Andreas Barnagni
- Aaron Brooks
- Al Horford
Although there was a lot of debate about whether Blake deserved to be an All-Star, there is little debate here. Not only does he stuff the ball like few in the league, he stuffs the stat-sheet too - averaging over 23 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assist per game. Add in a handful of 40+ point games and Blake has this category locked up.
- Brook Lopez
- Baron Davis
The most contested category so far. An argument could easily made for Carmelo, he is a scoring machine and a legitimate Superstar, however he just isn't the player than Chris Paul is. Paul has been a perennial and legitimate MVP candidate in recent years, adding buckets and assists in a way many compare to Magic Johnson. Although Paul has yet to live up to those kind of expectations, he has demonstrated himself to be a more skilled, and allround better, player than Carmelo.
- Carmelo Anthony
- Carlos Boozer
- Chris Bosh
Definitely one of the toughest decisions to make. It could easily have been Dwayne Wade, who has a Championship Ring on his finger and the possibility of a few more in his future. However, this season with LeBron on board Wade has dropped a notch or two. Add in a tendency towards getting injured, partly a legacy of his time as his team's first and only option of offence, and the Dunking Deutschman gets the nod this time. Although yet to win a title, Dirk has been incredibly consistent for year upon year, and the Mavs are looking great this year too.
- Dwayne Wade
- Dwight Howard
- Derrick Rose
- Deron Williams
- Devon Harris
Although proving to be somewhat of a disappointment for the 76ers, with all of his stats dropping, Brand is still a highly talented player. Perhaps not the kind of player one builds a franchise around, but still a good solid player - with the potential to break out a big game on any given night.
- Emeka Okafor
- Evan Turner
Slim pickings for the letter 'F'. Garcia has been injured most of his career, and has yet to reach the career highs of his rookie season. Injured again this season, he is unlikely to ever bounce back and fulfil his potential. However, with Francisco Elsen (and his 2.4 points per game) as his only competition, it's hard not to give it to Garcia.
- Francisco Elsen
Plenty to choose from for the letter 'G'. Perhaps a few years ago one would've had to choose Gilbernt Arenas, but Agent Zero seems to have been redeployed as number one benchwarmer for the Orlando Magic. Wallace, however, continues to be his team's best player - doing it all, blocks, points, rebounding.
- Glen 'Big Baby' Davis
- Gilbert Arenas
- Grant Hill
- Goran Dragic
- Greg Oden
Many people will be happy with this selection. For some unknown reason, Hedo seems to inspire a great deal of loyalty amongst certain NBA fans, and hatred amongst others.
Until Hasheem learns how to shoot, consider Hedo the reigning champion of the letter 'H' for the foreseeable future.
- Hakim Warrick
- Hasheem Thabeet
Not much competition here. Where's Isiah Thomas when you need him? Or even Isaiah Rider?
Quite a field here. Although one could be tempted to award the prize to Joe Johnson ('he has two 'J' names!"), I just can't do it. Fellow Atlanta Hawk, Josh Smith, is the better player for my money. Few can match his all-round game and he just keeps adding new elements to his game, see this year's newly acquired three point shot. Of course, Smith may just be a place-holder until John Wall's game develops.
- Joe Johnson
- John Wall
- Joakim Noah
- Jason Kidd
If you have a kid on the way, you may want to consider calling him 'Kevin' if he's a boy. Durant, Garnett, Martin and Love! There is clearly something about that name that inspires greatness in NBA players.
The letter 'K' is clearly the most stacked with talent of the whole alphabet, and that is before we even get to the clear winner - Kobe Bryant. There's not much more to say about Kobe - five rings and two NBA Finals MVP Awards. It would be very hard for anyone, even Kevin Durant, to wrest this one from Kobe.
- Kevin Durant
- Kevin Garnett
- Kevin Love
- Kevin Martin
Another strong field. But really, when you're up against LeBron James you don't stand much hope, unless your name starts with 'K' and ends in 'obe'. Despite sharing some of his Superstar shine with Dwayne Wade, LeBron is still a one man phenomenon. His 51 point game against Orland Magic but further proof that although he is sharing the spotlight, his star hasn't dimmed any.
- LaMarcus Alridge
- Lamar Odom
- Luis Scola
- Luol Deng
Okay, this one may be a bit controversial. I know Manu has a handful of Championships to his name, and that the Spurs stand atop the Western Conference. I know that the Warriors remain mired in the 'fair to middling' category, and that many see Monta Ellis as a 'score first, score second' Shooting Guard. But I just can't overlook Ellis this season.
- Manu Ginobili
- Marc Gasol
- Michael Beasley
- Marcus Camby
Although his birth name is Maybyner Rodney Hilário, since 2003 he has been known simply as Nenê. Now, is this his first name or his last name? Both? Neither? Don't ask me.
All I know is that, in a shallow field, Nenê's rebounding and defence give him the edge over Nate Robinson.
- Nate Robinson
Despite his recent suspension for testing positive of a banned substance, O.J. is still the pick here. Although his scoring averages have decreased with each season of his career, he can still whether a few more seasons of decline before he is overtaken by the other 'O' contender, Omri Caspi.
- Omri Caspi
Another line-ball decision. This could easily have fallen Paul Pierce's way. At times, Pau has played like the best player on a reigning back to back Championship Team. Pierce is the heart and soul of a team that has won one ring, and looks to be in the running for another.
In the end, though, we went with Pau because of the extra Championship.
- Paul Pierce
- Paul Millsap
Thank goodness for Q-Rich. Until somebody reminded me of his existence I was considering Quincy Pondexter for this letter.
Anyway, as the only other 'Q' player out there, Q-Rich was a 'no brainer'.
As I said in this article, despite a shaky jump shot and rumours of an attitude problem Rondo has improved dramatically over the last few seasons, to the point where he is now a triple-double risk any given night. Add in the mindset of a Champion, and Rondo find himself at the top of this list.
- Russell Westbrook
- Ray Allen
As argued in this recent article by Doug Brodess, Nash continues to produce like almost no one at his age done before. A smart, disciplined player with a renounced commitment to physical fitness, Nash continues to be the heart and soul of his Suns team.
- Stephen Jackson
- Stephen Curry
Despite no longer ruling the boards like in his 'hey day', this old dog still leads a lean and hungry Spurs team that leads the Western Conference. Tony Parker, another 'T' contender', may score more points, but without Tim Duncan there simply would be no Spurs.
- Tony Parker
- Tyreke Evans
Even whilst having spending most of the current season on the Injured List, Udonis still walks away with this one. Having said that, Udonis has been a constant presence for the Heat throughout his career, noted for his rebounding and dependable 15 foot jump shot.
As loathed as I am to give Vince Carter any encouragement, it's hard not to give him this one. The days of 'Air Canada' may be long behind him, but he still provides scoring punch and athleticism to any team willing to take a chance on him.
- Von Wafer
- Vladimir Radmanović
Wilson Chandler has had a great season thus far, with career highs in points, rebounds and three point percentage. A great accompaniment to Amare, Wilson could well be the future of this Knicks franchise.
- Wesley Mathews
Another one-horse race here with the letter 'X'.
Henry actually has the potential to be a decent player, and the up and coming Grizzlies is probably the best place for a young gun like him to develop.
Perhaps the Chinese voters are onto something after all. Yao is without a doubt the best player in the NBA...whose name starts with 'Y'.
Well, actually that's not technically true. You see, in China the family name comes before the given name. Meaning that Yao Ming's actual given name is 'Ming', not 'Yao'. Of course, this would have left us with no one suitable to slot into the 'Y' section of this article, so you will forgive me for fudging it a little bit.
Hard to believe for someone who has been a consistent 20/10 producer for season after season, Zach was long considered someone who had failed to live up to his potential.
However, last year Zach busted out of the gates last year to earn his first All-Star birth. With little competition for 'number one Z' anyway - Zach has got a strangehold on this title, even if he didn't make the All-Star team this year.
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Thanks for making it all the way to the end.
If you liked this article, don't forget to check out some of my other Bleacher Report stuff, including:
Lebron 2.0: Who Will Be The Nba's Next Superstar - John Wall, Rondo, Ricky Rubio?
Top Ten Funniest Hoops Articles from The Onion - some of the funniest basketball satire you will see.
Has-Beens in Green: 10 Other Former All-Stars Who Finished in Boston - Shaq isn't the first NBA great to bid the league goodbye from the comfort of a Boston Celtics bench.