With just over two weeks to go until NBA All-Star Weekend, the Eastern Conference and Western Conference rosters are finally set. The reserves were announced on Wednesday to go along with the starting lineup, which was announced last week.
Starters: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmello Anthony, Yao Ming
Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Manu Ginobili, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol
Starters: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard
Reserves: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Al Horford, Joe Johnson
Whereas seemingly every star player from the East made the squad, the West was a completely different story. At least five players were left off the Western Conference roster that would have easily made the Eastern team.
Considering there are only six teams in the East with records above .500, it is not surprising that there were fewer stars. The West, on the other hand, has 10 teams with a better record than the current No. 7 seed in the east, the Philadelphia 76ers.
None of this is really news because the Western Conference has been stronger than the East for over a decade now. From 2000-2005, the West had 31 teams that won at least 50 games, as well as five teams that won 60 or more. Meanwhile, the East had just 13 teams with 50 wins and just one with at least 60. In fact, during the 2002-2003 season, the Nets won an Eastern Conference-high 50 games, while the West had three teams win 59 games or more.
Although the West is still much deeper than the East, the East has steadily improved over the last four years and now at least has the Celtics, Magic, Heat, Hawks and Bulls playing at consistently high levels.
Here we will rank the top five players from the West that were left out of the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.
(25.2 PPG, 5.6 Ast, 2.3 Stl)
Only Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are averaging more points per game this season than Golden State guard Monta Ellis.
While Ellis' bid to be an All-Star was not helped by the fact that Golden State is currently the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, it is still tough to leave Elllis off the roster. Ellis is one of the most explosive players in the league, and he has played an NBA-leading 41.1 minutes per game this season.
The one knock on Ellis is his subpar defense, but his 2.3 steals are among the best in the league.
(17.3 PPG, 6.8 Ast, 1.3 Stl)
The Spurs, at 41-8, have the best record in the NBA and have certainly been the biggest overachievers this season. The league recognized the Spurs, as Tim Duncan was selected to his 12th consecutive All-Star Game, while Manu Ginobili made his second. But what about Tony Parker?
Parker is averaging 17.3 points per game on impressive 51.9 percent shooting but did not make the Western Conference All-Star roster. Not often has a point guard been left off the All-Star Game roster despite starting for the best team in the NBA and having the highest field goal percentage on his team.
(21.4 PPG, 9.0 Reb, 1.2 Blk)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft, LaMarcus Aldridge has almost singlehandedly kept Portland in playoff contention and should have been awarded with All-Star honors.
Portland has suffered serious injuries to several of its best players, including Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby. Aldridge has really stepped it up for the Trail Blazers, averaging a career-best 21.4 points and nine rebounds per game, and has been much more aggressive in the post.
(16.8 PPG, 11.1 Ast, 1.1 3PT)
The fact that Steve Nash, the two-time MVP amid one of his best seasons, was left off the All-Star roster really shows you the depth of talent the Western Conference consists of.
Only Rajon Rondo has more assists per game than Nash's 11.1. Nash is also having one of his best shooting seasons, knocking down 52.1 percent of his field goal attempts and 91.6 percent of his free throws.
Similar to Ellis, you could make the argument that Nash is only excelling on the offensive side, as Nash is consistently one of the poorest defensive players in the league.
(21.4 PPG, 15.5 Reb, 87.7 percent FT)
Kevin Love is quietly having one of the most impressive offensive statistical seasons we have seen in a while.
Love has added a new dimension to his game this season, the three-pointer, and is shooting an excellent 43.9 percent from behind the stripe. Never have we seen a player with the combination of rebounding, shooting and passing ability that Love possesses.
Unfortunately for Kevin Love fans, you will not be seeing him at the 2011 All-Star Game, mostly because his team stinks. Minnesota has the worst record in the west, but in fairness to the Timberwolves, Love's defense is not helping matters.
Dwight Howard, second in rebounds, is averaging over two fewer rebounds per game than Love.
Just missed this list: Kevin Martin, Zach Randolph, Eric Gordon, Lamar Odom