The 2011 All-Star Game is nearly upon us. It's that time of the year where we debate which picks the fans and coaches got right and which they got wrong.
It's meant to be a showcase of the greatest talents the league has to offer, but it doesn't always work out that way.
Alas, we all know that this thing is a popularity contest at its core and the players receiving the most media buzz will be the ones the fans vote in. There's also some inner politics involving the head coaches who pick the bench players, and that's a factor that can't be overlooked when thinking about which players were snubbed.
Who knows what certain coaches have against certain players? They're all human and some people just don't like each other.
Most NBA fans will feel as though at least one player from their team deserved an All-Star nod, which is the purpose of this article.
We'll be looking at each team's biggest snub, although some teams don't have any. Don't worry, though, those teams still got their fair share.
Joe Johnson, an All-Star reserve this year, is scoring more points than Smith, but Smith has played in every game for the Hawks whereas Johnson has missed some time with injury.
I've gotten on Smith a lot in the past for taking too many threes, but that doesn't change the fact that he's producing for his team—averaging 16.3 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
At times it seems as though Smith does not realize how good he could be. Perhaps that's what is keeping him off the All-Star team.
The Celtics already have four players going to Los Angeles. They don't need anyone else and no other guy on the roster is worthy of being an All-Star.
That's all there is to say about that.
It was tough to decide between Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace for the Bobcats. On the one hand, Jackson is scoring more (18.9 PPG) and has played in more games, which would seem to indicate he's of greater value to his team.
On the other, Wallace is pretty close to Jackson's scoring average (15.3 PPG) and is bringing down rebounds at a much higher rate. Wallace also gets to the free throw line nearly 1.5 times more per game than Jackson, which caused me to nudge him up and name his as Charlotte's All-Star representative.
Helping Wallace's cause, Jackson seems to be endorsing him in this picture. My vote goes to Gerald Wallace.
His case is dampened due to his missing 15 games, but Boozer's 19.8 PPG and 10.2 RPG are All-Star level statistics.
The Bulls have one of the best records in the league and Boozer is a big part of that. Even with the injuries, the people of Chicago have a good reason to be upset with Boozer not being selected to the game.
Doc Rivers couldn't have just thrown the Cavs a bone here and given them an All-Star? Their season has been so miserable. At least give the fans something to cheer about!
In all seriousness, Jamison is having a pretty solid year. He's averaging 17.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG, which aren't great numbers, but they're rather good considering the team he's on.
It's too bad that Jamison has been stuck on so many bad teams in his career. He's such a talented player and it's possible we'll never really know how good he could have been.
Chandler's 10.3 PPG aren't going to make anyone jump out their seat, but you have to consider that he's hitting well over 60 percent of his shots and is also averaging nearly 10 RPG.
Chandler has helped make the normally defensively handicapped Mavs a suddenly potent squad on that side of the floor and is one of the main reasons there's been some thought that this Dallas team might be different come playoff time.
Players don't normally get selected to All-Star teams due to their defense and hustle. Perhaps Chandler should have been the exception.
Being that Yao Ming hardly even played this year, couldn't Nene have gotten more consideration for the starting center spot?
He's scoring 15.3 PPG on 64 percent shooting while bringing in 7.3 RPG. We all know that the All-Star Game has become more of a popularity contest than a testament to a player's skill, but come on.
Nene should have gotten some more love.
In a season where everything has gone wrong for the Pistons, Prince has remained a true pro throughout. Everyone knows the team isn't going anywere, but that that hasn't stopped the eight-year pro from playing hard and doing his best to contribute.
On the year Prince is averaging 14.7 PPG on 48 percent shooting. As usual, he also plays solid defense.
Ellis is clearly a snub. He's averaging 25.3 PPG and 5.6 APG. He also gets to the line more than six times a game and comes away with over two steals a game.
All of these numbers are better than those of Manu Ginobili, who can easily be seen as the man who took Ellis' spot. If Gregg Popovich was not the coach of the Western All-Stars, Ellis likely would have been taken ahead of the Spurs' guard.
Warriors fans have every right to be upset about Ellis not making the squad.
With 23.3 PPG, Kevin Martin leads the Rockets in scoring. Luis Scola's combination of 19.3 RPG and 8.4 RPG makes him a better all-around player than Martin, however.
Scola also hits his shots at a much higher rate than Martin, making him the Rocket's biggest snub.
The Pacers have been lighting it up recently and are in good position to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
Danny Granger is a huge part of that. He's the team's leading scorer (21.1 PPG) and its best player. Granger's ability to drive, draw fouls and shoot threes opens up the floor for everyone else on the team and they wouldn't be playing nearly as well without him.
He was an All-Star reserve a couple years ago and should have gotten more consideration for that role this time around.
Gordon hasn't played since January 22, so I'll give Pops a pass for taking Manu Ginobili over him. If he hadn't been hurt, though, we'd have a different story on our hands.
Blake Griffin has gotten all the credit for the Clippers suddenly becoming relevant again, but we can't overlook the contribution the team has gotten from Gordon.
The third-year pro is averaging 24.1 PPG, shooting 47 percent from the field and dishing out 4.5 APG. Could it be that we'll have multiple Clips being named All-Star starters as soon as next year?
The end of times is truly near.
It's unfortunate for Lamar Odom that he's in the loaded Western Conference. He's having arguably his best year as a pro, but hasn't been able to match the numbers of guys like Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki.
Odom's 15.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 56 percent field goal percentage are all better than Tim Duncan's numbers, so there is an argument to be made that Odom was more deserving of getting the All-Star nod.
Duncan has the better career resume, however, and it helps that his coach is the one selecting the reserves.
How exactly did Zach Randolph not make the All-Star team?
He's averaging 20.3 PPG and 13 RPG, numbers that, in their totality when considering what is expected from a power forward, are better than both Tim Duncan's and Dirk Nowitzki's.
Fellow Grizzly Rudy Gay may be The Most Interesting Man in the NBA, but Randolph is one of the NBA's biggest All-Star snubs.
Gay is a nice player, but perhaps the Memphis organization should have made an effort to get Randolph the votes instead.
Miami already has their Big Three going to the All-Star game, and no one else on the roster is really deserving of the honor.
This was pretty much expected to be the case this year, with the Heat looking to add more talent in the offseason.
Bogut has come back nicely from the nasty injury that ended his season a year ago. The former No. 1 overall pick has averaged 13.5 PPG to go along with 11.5 RPG and 2.8 BPG.
The Bucks have been a bit of a disappointment this year, but don't blame Bogut for that. He's doing all he can to help the team win and should get some All-Star selections in the future if he can continue to perform like this.
Yes, Love is being allowed to play in this year's game as a reserve. If Yao had not been hurt he likely wouldn't have been there, though.
Really? Averaging 21.3 PPG and 15.6 RPG isn't enough to make you an All-Star anymore?
Those who vote for this thing need to seriously reconsider their criteria.
Playing on a not so great team, Harris is putting up some good numbers and seems to have improved his overall game.
He's scoring a bit less than he has in recent years, but is also averaging a career-high 7.9 APG. Since January 5, he's had seven double-digit assists games, including establishing a new single-game high with 16 then breaking that mark in his next game with 18.
While his numbers aren't quite as good as Rajon Rondo's or Derrick Rose's, he should have gotten some consideration for being the best player on his team.
West is already a two-time All-Star, so at least he knows what it's like to play in the game.
His 18.8 PPG and 7.5 RPG are comparable to Tim Duncan's numbers, and he's also shooting a higher percentage than the Spur.
It's hard to argue too hard that West should have been picked ahead of any of the other power forwards in this February's game, but there are surely some Hornets fans who believe he should have been there.
Some will argue that Felton's numbers are inflated by Mike D'Antoni's system, and there may be some truth to that.
The fact remains, however, that Felton is averaging 17.2 PPG and 8.9 APG. Those numbers are somewhat on par with Rajon Rondo's season numbers, and Felton hasn't missed the games that Rondo has.
For all the talk we heard about how Amar'e Stoudemire was going to miss Steve Nash, the former's scoring numbers are better than they've been in several years. Felton is a big part of that.
If Doc Rivers wasn't the guy coaching the East, there's a chance Felton would have been there instead of Rondo.
Oklahoma City already has its two main guys in the All-Star game, and, just like with the Heat, no one else really deserves to play in the game.
Maybe next year someone like Jeff Green can make the leap and get three Thunder players in on the action.
Although a case can be made for Jason Richardson being Orlando's snub, Nelson has been there the whole year and is averaging 12.4 PPG to go along with 6.6 APG.
Those numbers don't match up with Derrick Rose's or Rajon Rondo's, but they're good nonetheless. Nelson is also connecting on 40 percent of his threes—something Rose and Rondo are not doing.
A surprise team in the East, the Sixers are getting better every night with Brand leading them in both points (15.6 PPG) and rebounds (8.7 RPG).
His numbers are pretty much exactly the same as Kevin Garnett's, and Brand has played in more games than KG.
Both players are certainly worthy of being an All-Star, but hasn't Garnett had the experience enough times already? Couldn't there have been some room made for Brand on the roster?
Steve Nash is easily the biggest snub on this list. The fans voted in Chris Paul ahead of him, and it's not really clear why.
They're both averaging 16.7 PPG, but Nash is averaging 11 APG compared to Paul's 9.7 and is shooting 53 percent from the field as opposed to Paul's 49 percent.
Also, in terms of purely playing point guard, Nash has done a better job than both Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook, who are scoring more points but have less assists and are not hitting shots at nearly the same rate as Nash.
It's safe to say that Nash should have been an All-Star.
Aldridge, who is averaging career highs in PPG (21.2) and RPG (9.1), really should have been an All-Star this year. He's also shooting just under 50 percent from the field, giving him better overall numbers than Tim Duncan.
Duncan surely deserves all the accolades he receives for the level he has played at throughout his career, but it will soon be time to clear out space for some of the up-and-comers of the league.
LaMarcus Aldridge would be a good start.
Evans' case for being an All-Star is hampered significantly by his poor field goal percentage (40 percent from the field).
Still, from a Sacramento perspective, he's scoring 18 PPG on a team that isn't very good. It could be that he's trying to do too much and forcing bad shots, which has led to a severe drop off in his ability to consistently hit them.
Evans certainly has All-Star potential, he just needs to improve his efficiency and also learn to be more of a distributor. If he can do that he'll be playing in the showcase game before too long.
I wonder if Greg Popovich wanted to give Parker some time to get away from basketball with all that's going on in his life, because he would have been justified in adding him as a reserve, especially with Doc Rivers bringing four Celtics with him in the East.
Parker is averaging 17.5 PPG on 52 percent shooting to go along with 6.7 APG. The point guard reserves on the West roster have better per game averages than Parker, but they aren't hitting shots at nearly the same rate, and it's not like coaches are immune to taking their players over some more deserving guys.
Maybe Parker just needs some time off.
Ah, the perils of playing in Canada.
Barganini is establishing a new career-high in PPG with 21.1. His rebounding leaves something to be desired, but he's doing his best to perform on a bad team.
At least in the eyes of Toronto fans, there's a reasonable argument to be made that Bargnani could have been an All-Star instead of Kevin Garnett.
Jefferson was basically Utah's answer for losing Carlos Boozer this offseason, and he's filled in nicely. He's not completely on Boozer's level, but he's still doing a very nice job.
On the season Jefferson is averaging 17 PPG and 9.1 RPG and is the only player on the roster to play in all 52 of the team's games this season.
As long as he can keep up his play in the upcoming years, he should wind up in the All-Star Game before too long.
John Wall isn't exactly surrounded by great talent, yet he's still handing out 9.1 APG. He's also scoring 14.8 PPG and grabbing 4.2 RPG.
If not for Blake Griffin, Wall would likely be the Rookie of the Year. He's also made a good case for becoming an All-Star, something he should be able to accomplish regularly given what he's shown us in his first season.