Bernucca: With starters settled, here are your All-Star reserves

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Fans who took part in All-Star balloting, take a bow. You got nine out of 10 right.

Yes, you again chose with your heart instead of your head, as you have done on an annual basis for as long as we can remember.

But unlike past years – when your infinite wisdom voted undeserving players such as A.C. Green, Dan Majerle, Steve Francis, Ben Wallace and an injured Yao Ming as starters – at least this time your choices won’t cost anyone who truly deserves a berth. In a rather nice coincidence, the most popular players also are the best ones.

The final voting will officially be announced tonight on TNT. It was unofficially announced Jan. 12, when the first returns were released and looked like your typical North Korean election — almost. There were runaways at every position, but there were dissenting votes.

We’ll save you an hour of pomp and punditry and announce the starters now: In the Eastern Conference, it will be LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at forward, Dwight Howard at center and Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose at guard. In the Western Conference, it will be Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant at forward, Andrew Bynum at center and Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul at guard.

Although Kevin Love deserves to start ahead of Griffin (yeah, he does, and Chris Sheridan discussed the Love v. Griffin debate on the Boers and Bernstein show on 670 WSCR in Chicago), all 10 starters chosen by the fans are legitimate All-Stars. That shifts the burden to the coaches, who when choosing the reserves must pick two guards, two forwards, a center and two other players and should be looking past the usual suspects – many of whom are not having anything resembling All-Star seasons.

In the East, there could be as many as five new faces from a year ago as Al Horford, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will not or may not be back.

In the West, it could be six as Anthony, Deron Williams, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol and even Dirk Nowitzki will not or may not be back.

Reserves will be announced a week from today, so there’s still some time for a player to influence an opposing coach. And of course, we’re here to offer our assistance.

EAST RESERVES: Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Jennings, Joe Johnson.

WHY THEY SHOULD MAKE IT: Rondo has clearly been the best player on the aging Celtics and the only one to consistently play at an All-Star level.

It takes a lot for us to recognize rookies as All-Stars, but the 19-year-old Irving is a top-20 scorer, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and making the Cavaliers relevant again.

Jennings simply has carried the Bucks in the absence of injured Andrew Bogut and invisible Stephen Jackson. He has rediscovered his 3-point shot and is carving up defenses. Just ask the Heat.

Smith’s all-around play needs to be recognized and Johnson has come on after a slow start. They have more than made up for the missing Horford, who wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire when he was healthy.

Bosh may be an easy target for criticism as the third banana in Miami, but he is in the top 10 in scoring and shooting and clearly playing at an All-Star threshold. He was more of a question mark a year ago.

You can quibble with Hibbert, but the squad needs a center and Indiana should have an All-Star. Aside from Howard, the only East center with comparable numbers to Hibbert’s is Detroit’s Greg Monroe, whose team is abominable.

SIGNIFICANT SNUBS: Danny Granger, Ray Allen, Andre Iguodala, Deron Williams.

WHY THEY SHOULDN’T MAKE IT: A former All-Star, Granger (and Pacers teammate David West, for that matter) has not played anywhere near that level, although he may have turned a corner with his 36-point eruption Wednesday.

Among Boston’s “Big Three,” Allen is the only one worthy of consideration based on his play this season. Also, the Celtics are a .500 team; how many All-Stars are they supposed to have?

You cannot marvel at Philadelphia’s ability to thrive without a true star, then declare that one of its players is a star. Iguodala is a nice two-way player, but he is not in the top 50 in scoring and is shooting 62 percent from the line.

On first blush, Williams has terrific numbers. But he is shooting 41 percent, leads the NBA in turnovers and pilots a lottery team. Irving and Jennings are more deserving.

WEST RESERVES: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Tony Parker, Danilo Gallinari.

WHY THEY SHOULD MAKE IT: Westbrook’s slow start seems like it was six years ago. He is a top-10 scorer who has made as many daggers as Durant this season, including another Wednesday in Dallas.

The resurgent Rockets need representation, and Martin is their best candidate. Bryant is the only shooting guard averaging more points, and Martin has been doing his thing on a sore foot.

Love has teamed with Ricky Rubio to rejuvenate the Timberwolves and is the best power forward in the game. Better than Griffin, better than Amar’e Stoudemire, better than Bosh, and better than Aldridge, who nearly broke through last year and has to be rewarded this season. He is the lone constant on a wildly inconsistent Blazers team.

Among Grizzlies, Gasol is a better candidate than Rudy Gay. Among Gasols, Marc is a better candidate than Pau. Again, the reserves must include a center, and baby brother has career highs across the board, apparently intent on justifying his new contract.

Duncan’s devolvement and Ginobili’s injury have forced Parker to often carry the Spurs by himself. He has bounced back after a slow start and is averaging a career high in assists.

We initially chose Al Jefferson over Gallinari but felt like the Nuggets, who lead the NBA in scoring and fast-break points, warrant an All-Star more than the Jazz. “The Rooster” is having his best season and is going to be a regular in the midseason showcase.

SIGNIFICANT SNUBS: James Harden, Dirk Nowitzki, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry.

If any West team deserves three All-Stars, it is the Thunder with Harden, who – sorry, Lou Williams – is the runaway winner of the Sixth Man Award., IMHO. But Martin and Parker are slightly more deserving because they have greater roles on their teams.

Nowitzki should be excluded for the first time in 10 years. His lack of conditioning is evident in his poor shooting and glacial defensive rotations. The only All-Star for the defending champions has been Rick Carlisle.

Jazz fans will probably split over whether Jefferson or Millsap is more deserving than Gallinari. However, keep in mind that Gallinari’s inclusion also bumps Nene, who is having a pretty good season himself.

Fantasy players love Lowry, but the truth is Martin is having a better season among shooting guards than Lowry is among point guards.

Chris Bernucca is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear every Thursday and Sunday. You can follow him on Twitter.

 

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  1. I’m just glad to see new blood in the All-Star game; a handful of players have dominated the selections over the last 10 years or so.

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2012/02/nba-has-next-class-of-perennial-all.html

  2. Greg Monroe is the second best center in the East. No way should he be left off. 16.4 points on 52 percent shooting, with 10.00 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a steal a game is all-star worthy at that position.

  3. This is the All-Star game THE BEST PLAYERS THIS SEASON (no matter their team record), this is not the MVP (where team record counts). So because of that Steve Nash will be an ALL Star.
    He leads the NBA in assists, leads all guards in FG% by a long margin, and he leads the NBA in shooting percentage: FG% + 3PT% + FT% combine, I can not find a guard that leads the league in those 2 major categories. Plus he only plays 31 minutes, can you imagine if he plays the same minutes like most players you mentioned…. he will average 20 points and 13 assists easily.
    If he is not chosen, he will be one of the biggest snubs in All-Star history!

  4. Carmelo Stoudemire says:

    When you said the fans got 9 out of 10 right, I thought I knew where it was going, but I was wrong. Tell me what do 9 out of the 10 starters have in common? Answer: They play for teams that currently playoff teams. You can’t dismiss a player based on your assumption they are on a lottery bound team, while earlier in the article saying the fans got it right for a player who very well could be on a lottery bound team. Your point does not hold.

  5. If you were trying to pick the best players I have to disagree on many of your choices. Your whole column overvalues scoring, like about 98% of those that cover the NBA.

    Let me try to help:
    Step 1: Watch the movie Moneyball.
    Step 2: Apply these techniques to hmm, wait for it… the NBA.
    Step 3: Realize someone has already done this with a statistic called Wins Produced, and WP48.
    Step 4: Look at http://www.thenbageek.com for this years Wins Produced stats here: http://www.thenbageek.com/players?direction=desc&sort=wins_produced
    Step 5: Pick the top players from the link I provided based on conference and position to create a new all-star reserve list.
    Step 6: You have now picked the best players in the NBA that help their team win, congratulations.

    Okay, in all seriousness I saw you responding to all the comments and outrage and figured it was worth a shot to have you take a look at this statistic if you haven’t. I don’t work for that site or anything, but I’m a fan who highly values Wins Produced and WP48 (from David Berri).

    Basketball is more complicated than scoring, this should be obvious. The Wins Produced metric gives a very good idea of who’s helping a team win, and often it isn’t the one scoring the most points.

    I hope you get a chance to reply.

    Thanks.
    -Chris

    • Sabremetrics certainly have a place in the NBA. However, I have yet to find one that consistently tells me something discernibly different than what my eyes tell me. Scoring matters, just like defense matters and ball-sharing matters. Carmelo Anthony may be the best pure scorer in the game but he doesn’t defend and doesn’t move the ball, two elements that over any extended period of time will not make his teammates better. I don’t need a stat crunch to see that. But I understand your view and accept that advanced stats’ role will continue to grow. Now take a look at 94fifty.com, because that’s the next step to logging info and improving players. All you need is the league to sign off on a chip in the ball and somewhere in the seam of the players’ shorts.

  6. I completely understand and can see the logic behind all of your picks. But of course that won’t stop me from disagreeing.

    I would take Iguodala over Kyrie Irving. While Kyrie has been really good I think, and most ex-players make this statement all the time, players on winning teams should always be rewarded over players from losing teams. And while I would love Deng to make it I can’t really make a sound argument of him over any other players listed.

    When it comes to the West I just can’t have Kevin Martin on my All-Star team. Yes, he scores in bunches, but there are so many other players who impact their teams more even if they score less. I’d take Rudy Gay, Al Jefferson, Nene, Rubio, and even his teammate Kyle Lowry over him. But since I can only name one, I will go with Al Jefferson as Utah has been better than most people predicted.

    And please people, don’t offer up the name of a player you think should be on the All-Star team unless you are willing to say why someone else doesn’t belong on the team. There are only 12 spots per team, the hardest All-Star team to make in professional sports, it is hard to make this team.

    • Fair arguments, Jim. Irving and Martin are probably my 12th guys. I feel the same way about Deng as you do. And I considered Big Al very strongly. You’re right – it’s not easy.

  7. Monta not even on snubs, dude is 2nd ppg and 1st apg for sg in the entire league

    • Monta Ellis is among the most overrated players in recent NBA history. I have yet to watch a game he has played where he has shown that he is not out for himself. He has been in the league for 7 years and still has no idea how to win. He is another one of the many “my-turn” guys who can’t go 2 or 3 possessions without a hoist, no matter the quality of the shot. You can have him. He can NEVER play for me, because his best skill remains finding a way to lose.

      • are you kidding me? have you ever watched him play he averages the most assists per game for a sg in the whole league how can he be the me first player you say he is? How is he overrated in any way at all, who rates him highly? no one how can you say the player with the highest apg among sg and 2nd in apg among non-points other than lebron james.

  8. I think your selections are fine, but I disagree with you on a major point.

    The All-Star game isn’t about the best players, it’s about the biggest ‘stars’ – the players who have the most hype, sell the most shoes/hamburgers/whatever, fly highest, shoot furthest and throw no look passes at shot-clock-touching forwards. The All-Star game is a mid-season break where the players the fans most want to see turn up and play a meaningless game for pocket money, which they do (except for occasional spoilsports like Scottie Pippen, Glenn Rice or Kobe Bryant who decide to take it seriously while everyone else is slacking off). In my opinion the reserves should be left open to voters, too. This is how democracy works and the NBA should let it do its thing without the guiding hand of people who supposedly know the ‘real’ value of a player.

    The All NBA team is about the best players, and it is selected at the end of the regular season to reflect a whole year’s performance. There are far fewer outrageous ‘snubs’ in All NBA selections because the voters are better informed and have a better idea of what makes a great player (although they’re hardly flawless). The debate about who ‘deserves’ an All NBA selection is a legitimate debate – who deserves All-Star start isn’t, because it’s democracy in action, and the reserve selection process only confuses what it’s about.

    Who’s better to watch in a game (especially a meaningless one?) between Love or Griffin? It’s Griffin, hands down, no debate. Who’s better at playing the PF slot? That’s an interesting debate and maybe I would take Love. But I think we should wait until the end of the season for All NBA selections, to argue that.

    • There is no doubt that your description of the All-Star Game and how it is populated is spot-on. But I believe that in the no-defense format the game takes on, any player good enough to make the game could thrill us. Yes, Love’s calling card is rebounding; what if he drained six 3′s in the game? Wouldn’t we be hooting and hollering? I’m just tired of the millions of mindless fans who don’t understand how the game should be played kneejerking in their choice of the “best” players. Derek Harper made zero All-Star Games and Steve Francis made four, and Harper was MILES better as a point guard with his ability to run an offense and control a game. You are right about All-NBA selections, and I believe First Team All-NBA is the hardest personal achivement in all four major sports. Keep in mind that the media votes on that, and I can tell you from years of experience that most of those who vote – especially the print folk, who are not influenced by working for a local or national network whose job it is to drive ratings for games – take their entries for All-NBA very seriously. Also keep in mind that only 15 players make All-NBA while 24 make All-Star teams, so the All-NBA vote is much more discerning. Thanks for reading.

  9. is this a joke? what part of 15 ppg, 9.9 apg, 55% from the field, PER of 23 while being 38 years old playing on a team full of role players yet still being able to lead the league in assits doesn’t even make your “snubs” list? you know exactly who i’m talking about. and “age” is the most invalid argument possible, because despite his age he’s still a top 5 point guard in the league.

  10. kantankruz says:

    Blake over Love is going to be happening for the next 10 + years, it’s a load of crap and I would take Love over Blake any day of this week and next, but it’s juts the way it’s going to be (and them and us are going to have to live with it). A couple of big dunks twice a game is more “sexier” than going for 20 and 20 nearly every night.

    • Agreed. I have a question for all hoopheads: Take away Blake Griffin’s power game, and what does he do well?

      • kantankruz says:

        He can rebound a bit, he can’t shoot a jumper for shit but that hopefully will come. I’m not hating on Blake (I really like him) I just think he is over hyped atm.

        I stand by my comment – Give me Kevin Love any day.

  11. Rondo has been hurt and the Celtics are 6-2 in his absence. Paul Pierce has been killing it! Pierce is the celtics only All Star. Ray would be my 2nd choice. No way you can put Rondo on the All Star team this year. Laughable.

  12. Suggesting the Andre Iguodala shouldn’t be an all star simply because the sixers are referred to a no star team and that he is shooting 62% from the foul line is absolutely absurd… Andre is the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and one of three players with 13+ Points, 5+ assists, and 6.5+rebounds (ala lebron james….) It is ridiculous that a team can be in second place in the conference and still receive no credit whatsoever and be written off as a “fluke.” I feel like I’m listening too my local sports radio with this “he doesn’t score 20+ ppg so therefore he is no all star” garbage… I would expect it from sports radio, but not on this basketball related website with knowledgeable personnel. “Rajon Rondo has led the celtics to their worst season start in the last 4 years, but he has nice stats so lets put him on the all star team instead of the best player on the 2nd place team in the east”….”Kyrie Irving plays has led his team to a an impressive 8-12 record and almost averages 20ppg! He is an all star over the best player on arguably the best team on the east!”…. you logic is just flawed… sorry for my little rant, but I’m sick of the sixers getting no credit this season.

    • Pierre,

      I really labored on this one. Perhaps I didn’t give him enough credit. His scoring average is so low, and he rarely has been the “alpha dog” at the end that they will need in the playoffs. I don’t believe you need to be a 20 ppg scorer to make the All-Star team, and I like Iguodala’s game. I just don’t think he has done enough when compared across the league. You make some good points, though.

      You should also know that I am a Sixers fan – probably longer than you’ve been alive – and I am absolutely thrilled with how they play the game. I’d much rather rack up playoff series wins than All-Star berths.

  13. Are you smoking? Where’s Luol Deng? And BRANDON JENNINGS?!

    • I smoke cigarettes only. My column, my guys. Deng’s not a bad choice and probably will make it. Jennings has the Bucks in the playoffs right now and he’s doing it by himself.

  14. David Vertsberger says:

    How DARE you snub D-Will and Kyle Lowry! And you didn’t even add Amare to the list of notable snubs! Blasphemous!

    • Amare has been a $100 million decoy. Decoys don’t make All-Star Games. Deron Williams was a close call, and I gave my thoughts on Lowry vs. Martin.

  15. What about Bargnani?
    Sure he has been injured a lot…but when he is in the lineup the raptors are .500 and are 1 – 9 without him…he isn’t eligble for ppg leaders, but he is 5th in that, and is also now leading rebounder for the raps per game…..the impact he has on a terrible team and making them decent should be reason enough!?

  16. I know it is easy to crap on the Knicks these days, but Tyson Chandler has played at an incredibly high level all season. To not even include him in the snubs category is puzzling.

  17. Have you given any thought to Varejao as backup center in the East? He’s putting up career numbers and does more intangible things than anyone in the NBA.

  18. How about suggesting Rubio for the All-Star team? I know he’s not deserving yet, but picking him (probably as an injury replacement) is the type of the thing that the league loves to do to push players a bit closer to stardom/marketability. Thoughts?

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  2. [...] Bernucca: With starters settled, here are your All-Star reserves [...]

  3. [...] Forget the NBA All-Star starters. Before anyone else, here's who …By Chris BernuccaIn the East, there could be as many as five new faces from a year ago as Al Horford, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will not or may not be back. In the West ….. He has, but at 8-13 the Knicks don;t deserve 2 guys.Sheridan Hoops [...]

  4. [...] Forget the NBA All-Star starters. Before anyone else, here's who …By Chris BernuccaWe'll save you an hour of pomp and punditry and announce the starters now: In the Eastern Conference, it will be LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at forward, Dwight Howard at center and Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose at guard.Sheridan Hoops [...]

  5. [...] Forget the NBA All-Star starters. Before anyone else, here's who …By Chris BernuccaBut he is shooting 41 percent, leads the NBA in turnovers and pilots a lottery team. Irving and Jennings are more deserving. WEST RESERVES: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Tony Parker, …Sheridan Hoops [...]

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