LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and 13 Others Who Will Make It to the All-Star Game
With the second round of voting results here, it's time to look at who's going to be making the trip to L.A. to play in the 60th NBA All-Star Game.
Most of the picks are a given, such as many of the starters, but the bench is far from decided.
So, let's take a look at who's making it to the big game in February.
East Starting PG: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is the new superstar on the block.
This kid is something special, and he has arrived onto the big stage this season.
The ONLY player in the NBA currently averaging 25 points and eight assists a game. He also is near the top of the list when it comes to rebounds and blocks for guards. He has career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and three-point percentage. In other words, he is the real deal.
There is no other point guard in the East deserving of this spot other than Rose (Rajon Rondo has been injured for a good part of the season, now), and I believe Rose gets it even though Rondo is still leading fan votes by a few thousand.
Vote this kid for the ASG this February—he deserves it!
East Starting SG: Dwyane Wade
A lock for this spot, Dwyane Wade should and WILL start for the East at shooting guard.
You would think that the addition of a two-time MVP to his team would have a huge negative impact on Wade's stats and his game, but nothing could be further from the truth.
As the Miami Heat have started to gel, Wade has learned to play his game and keep up his stats even with LeBron James as his teammate, as evidenced by his current season averages of 24.5 points, six-and-a-half rebounds and about four assists a game. Add to that about a steal and a half, as well as a block.
Wade has been nothing short of spectacular, and no other shooting guard comes close to him in the East.
East Starting SF: LeBron James
Love him or hate him, James is the most talented small forward in the ENTIRE NBA, let alone the East.
And if you thought for one second that Dwyane Wade would completely take away his stats, well, then, you've got another thing coming, my friend. While James is not averaging a triple-double, he's still putting up great numbers, with current season averages of 24.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists, along with 1.5 steals a game.
That alone is enough.
However, if you need further reinforcement, then James is leading the league in triple-doubles with three. James is also second in the NBA in PAR (points, assists and rebounds) average with 38.5. Kevin Love is just a point ahead with 38.6. James is also fourth in the NBA in efficiency, and leads all small forwards in that category.
Oh, and he's got a pretty good lead in votes over all other small forwards in the East.
He's a shoo-in.
East Starting PF: Amar'e Stoudemire
Yes, I know Kevin Garnett leads the East in the votes for power forwards, but Amar'e Stoudemire is not far behind. With Garnett's current injury expected to sideline him for a couple weeks, Stoudemire should be the beneficiary of a spike in votes.
Stoudemire HAS been the New York Knicks this season, no other way to put it.
He's averaging 26.4 points per game, which is good enough for second in the entire league. Stoudemire is also averaging a respectable nine rebounds a game, and an insane two blocks per game, after showing no interest on the defensive end for the most part of his career.
He's top five in efficiency and top 10 in blocks, as well as top 20 in rebounds. Stoudemire has made the Knicks a winning team and no one deserves to start at PF for the East other than STAT.
East Starting C: Dwight Howard
Dwight is having an MVP season for the Orlando Magic. No other center comes close to his insane averages of 21 points, 13 rebounds and two-and-a-half blocks per game.
He's developed a nice post game, to which he can go to this season. It has given his offensive game some refreshment. His defensive game is still tops in the NBA, as he will once again be the top contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Expanding more on Howard will waste space. He deserves this spot and will get it, no doubt.
Here are spots five through 12, in no particular order.
Backup G: Rajon Rondo
Rondo's injuries have hurt his game a bit, but he's still far and away leading the league in assists with nearly 14 dimes a game. He's the engine that runs the Celtics and should easily be a lock for one of the backup guard spots.
Backup G: Raymond Felton
Thanks to a big man like Amar'e Stoudemire and a coach like Mike D'Antoni, Felton has flourished in New York's up-tempo system and has been just plain nasty. He's top five in assists with about nine a game and is putting up a career-high 18 points per game. He deserves this spot.
Backup G: Joe Johnson
Sure, Johnson has struggled this season, but he's still one of the top guards in the East and the Hawks are still a winning team, which validates Johnson as an All-Star. He's got solid averages of 17.2 points, four rebounds and six assists a game.
Backup F: Paul Pierce
Another lock, Pierce has been the one constant for the Celtics. While Garnett and Rondo have been hit with injuries and Ray Allen has struggled to find his shot at times, Pierce has kept his game up and led the Celtics when they needed him the most. Oh, and his averages are not too shabby with 18.5 points per game, five rebounds and more than three-and-a-half assists.
Backup F: Chris Bosh
Yes, Bosh has taken a backseat to Wade and James, but he's still one of the top big men in the East and the Heat are an elite team. Bosh has performed pretty well this season as a third option with averages of 18.6 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Backup F: Carlos Boozer
Yes, I realize Boozer has played just about a month this season, but I dare you to find someone who's put up the stats that Boozer has in the short time he's played with the Bulls. He's been simply a monster with averages of 20.6 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, and should continue to improve on those averages.
Backup C: Al Horford
Horford is lucky that Joakim Noah went down with a huge injury, or else Noah would be Horford's top challenger for the backup center spot. This one is now a toss-up between Horford and Andrew Bogut, but since Horford's Hawks are winning, I'll give it to him.
West Starting PG: Chris Paul
The Hornets started out red-hot and it looked like they would be serious contenders this year. However, they cooled off faster than you can say "fluke." And that's exactly what their season has been, a fluke.
However, Chris Paul is doing all he can to erase that image, and he's doing more than enough to warrant the starting spot for the West.
However, it could be a toss-up between Paul and Deron Williams, but since Williams is far behind Paul in votes, I'll give it to CP3, who's putting up 16.6 points, 10 assists and four-and-a-half rebounds a game. Add to that a league-leading three steals a game.
West Starting SG: Kobe Bryant
It's been quite an up-and-down season for the Lakers, but once again Kobe Bryant is there to keep them afloat when it's all said and done.
Although the Lakers have had recent struggles, Kobe has still managed to put up amazing stats, at the age of 32, with averages of 25.3 points, five rebounds, four-and-a-half assists and more than one steal per game.
Bryant is also the leading vote-getter in the entire NBA with over a million, and should easily have this spot locked down (not that he already hasn't).
West Starting SF: Kevin Durant
Russell Westbrook gave some NBA fans quite a surprise with his play early in the season, and people were starting to wonder whether he was the real superstar in Oklahoma City instead of Kevin Durant.
Well, put those scares to rest because Kevin Durant is back! (Not that he ever left.)
But Durant has once again re-established himself as THE MAN for the Thunder, averaging over 30 points a game over his last 10 and leading the league in scoring with 27.9 points per game. Added with a solid six rebounds and three assists a game.
The Thunder have been winning as well. Their record is well above .500, so Durant should have no problem starting at SF for the West.
West Starting PF: Pau Gasol
This spot belongs to Dirk Nowitzki, but due to fan votes will either go to Carmelo Anthony or Pau Gasol.
Carmelo is leading right now, but Gasol is not far behind with just 6k votes separating the two.
My vote goes to Gasol, as he's had a better season than Melo and his team has the better record of the two. Gasol is in the top 10 in the NBA in rebounds as well as blocks, and in the top 25 in points per game with averages of just about 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks per game.
Even though this spot belongs to and should go to Nowitzki, Gasol is the next best choice, without a doubt.
West Starting C: Nene?
Wow, talk about a wash.
This spot is absolute trash and the NBA needs to fix it by either putting Pau Gasol or Tim Duncan as center eligible.
Right now, Yao Ming leads all centers in votes, but he's out for the entire season, so he's obviously not receiving this spot. The next highest is Andrew Bynum, and he just came back from an injury and has not nearly done enough to warrant an All-Star selection.
After Bynum is Brendan Haywood, which is a joke, followed by Nene, who I think gets picked by David Stern to represent the West at center.
It's an abomination when Nene is the best center in the West, but circumstances have made it this way. He's got solid but not spectacular season averages of 15 points and seven-and-a-half rebounds, along with about a block and a steal a game.
Here are spots five through 12, in no particular order.
Backup G: Deron Williams
Williams has played so well that he actually deserves to start over Paul, but because of fan voting, Williams is far behind Paul in votes. His Jazz are rolling and he has current averages of 22.2 points, 9.3 assists and four rebounds along with a steal a game.
Backup G: Tony Parker
The Spurs have been rolling all season long and Parker is one of the team's main catalysts. He's having a career year with averages of 17.7 points, seven assists and one-and-a-half steals a game. He's the most likely Spur to make it.
Backup G: Steve Nash
Nash has been great as usual, and even though the Suns are struggling, you know they'll pick it up due to Nash's greatness. He's top in the league in assists and is averaging 17 points and 10.5 assists a game.
Backup F: Carmelo Anthony
Anthony is having a controversial up-and-down year, but he's still been much better than most forwards in the West with his averages of 23.7 points, eight-and-a-half rebounds, three assists and a steal a game. Whether he gets traded or not is another story, but Melo should be an All-Star once again.
Backup F: Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk is the one who really deserves to start for the West instead of Pau, but won't due to fan voting. He's been nothing short of spectacular, leading the Mavs to the second-best record in the West and putting up MVP-type numbers with 24 points, seven-and-a-half rebounds and two-and-a-half assists a game.
Backup F: Kevin Love
Yes, I realize that he's on a losing team, but Love is putting up numbers that are too hard to ignore, averaging an insane 20.9 points and 15.3 rebounds a game. He's destroying the rest of the league on the glass, leading the NBA by a large margin. Love has been the lone bright spot for the Wolves (sorry, Michael Beasley) and deserves to make the team.
Backup C: Tim Duncan
Since there isn't technically a center in the West worth of making the All-Star team, I believe Duncan will get the last spot, simply because he's...Tim Duncan. I know, odd reason, right? But how can you deny the future Hall of Famer and arguably greatest power forward of all time a spot in the All-Star Game?
Sorry! Maybe Next Year!
Yes, you could make a strong case for the rookie to make the big game in February with his insane averages of 21.5 points and 12.4 rebounds a game. But Griffin has the losing record of his team working against him, as well as the fact that he is just a ROOKIE. That has a huge impact as rookies hardly ever get picked to be in the big game. Meaning the last three rookies selected for the big game were Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan. You think Griffin is already on their level? That's what I thought.
Z-Bo is once again putting up huge numbers with the Grizz as he's averaging 18.8 points and 12.7 rebounds, but the Grizz just can't seem to find a way to win. He got in last year, but with so many forwards doing well in the West, he may be the odd man out.
With Brandon Roy out, Alridge has stepped up big time for the Blazers and is having a career year with averages of 19.4 points, eight-and-a-half rebounds, as well as more than a steal and a block a game. However, the Blazers have a hard time winning, and that will be enough to keep Aldrige out of the big game.
The Hawks simply won't have three All-Stars with Joe Johnson, who's a perennial All-Star, and Al Horford, who's more likely to make it than Smith due to center eligibility. So, Smith may be left out once again.
It pains me to leave Westbrook out of the big game, but the West is loaded with guards and Deron Williams and Steve Nash are locks. Tony Parker gets the nod over Westbrook because the Spurs have been the best team in the NBA and Parker is one of the biggest reasons why.
Parker gets in, Duncan gets in. So I guess Ginobili is left out. He started out hot, but has significantly cooled off since, while Parker has kept it going, so I think Parker gets in.
Scola has been having a career year but, sadly, he's got to deal with a loaded set of forwards in the Western Conference and simply won't get in due to the depth of the West.