By Kevin Sawyer
Well, the fans have spoken and have made their largely uninformed selections to represent their respective conferences in the NBA 2008 all-star game. Here are my capsule commentaries on the starters, and my votes for who should be selected as reserves.
Forwards – LeBron James & Kevin Garnett
Center – Dwight Howard
Hmmm… Maybe the fans got it right this year.
Guards – Jason Kidd & Dwyane Wade
Now that’s the ignorance we’ve come to know and love. How mediocre has Kidd been this season? Three teams in the league have TWO point guards with better player efficiency ratings. That’s what happens when you shoot 37%. This ranks with the worst starting selections in all-star history. I can tolerate the Wade pick, though I am starting to wonder if it will be his last. He’s the Bernard King of guards.
Forwards - Tim Duncan & Carmelo Anthony
If I put together a list of the NBAs most overrated players next year, I know who I am adding. No, not Duncan, for crying out loud.
Center – Yao Ming
This could have gone either way, between Yao and Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire has been better, but has played fewer minutes, and Yao is on the upswing. Of course, China will ensure that Yao is elected so long as he is on the ballot.
Guards – Kobe Bryant & Allen Iverson
I can’t knock the fans for failing to send Paul, who is relatively new to the scene, and plays in a small (and otherwise plagued) market. Iverson’s selection over Nash surprises me, but he (unlike Melo) merits and all-star selection, and, you know, thugz foreva’ and all that.
Forwards: Caron Butler, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith
Apologies to: Richard Jefferson, Antawn Jamison
Much is being made of the Wizards "miracle" run to 42 wins without Gilbert Arenas, and Butler deserves all the credit in the world, but that roster doesn’t have three all-stars on it. Ditto the Nets, except that nobody is making anything of them, and their roster doesn’t have a single all-star on it, and their inexorable march to 42 wins has been a bit circuitous this year. Pierce is borderline, but it’s fairly well impossible not to give the Celtics two selections. Josh Smith hasn’t quite arrived yet, but is the most talented of this group.
Centers: Chris Bosh
Apologies to Shaq, Brendan Haywood, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
I am guessing that most coaches are going to make the same calculation I have here. Shaq is injured, and hasn’t played well when healthy. Bosh can play center, and the sportswriters have been pimping him for this spot for a while. I have to wonder if Haywood doesn’t pick up Ilgauskas Memorial unnecessary third center award. Of course, Ilgauskas himself is in the running as well, but voters might fix upon Haywood on a surprising Wizards team.
Guards: Jose Calderon, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton
Apologies to: Michael Redd, Ray Allen
Billups’ inclusion is obvious. Calderon’s numbers look a little weak because he has just emerged into the starting role, but his per minute play doesn’t even make it a close shave. Rip and Redd are neck and neck as usual, so team success is the tie-breaker. Ray Allen really shouldn’t be in the discussion, but will almost certainly be selected for his final all-star appearance.
Prediction: Butler, Jamison, Haywood, Pierce, Allen, Billups and Bosh round out the worst all-star roster in NBA history.
Forwards: Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer
Apologies to: Josh Howard, Al Jefferson, Shawn Marion
Nowitzki and Boozer are extremely obvious. Howard and Marion are victims of the hit parade of outstanding guards, which represents a sea change from a year ago. Jefferson is probably deserving, but his team is really bad, and he really doesn’t play any defense.
Center: Amare Stoudemire
Apologies to: Marcus Camby, Andrew Bynum
Many writers are hocking Camby here over Stoudemire, which is ridiculous. Stoudemire may be the best center in basketball. Nobody can say that about Camby. Alas, the Camby love might result in another Ilgauskas award, ousting a much more deserving player.
Guards: Chris Paul, Manu Ginobili, Steve Nash, Baron Davis
Apologies to: Tracy McGrady, Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Tony Parker, Kevin Martin…
Can’t see denying Ginobili this year when he has easily been the most effective Spur (and a top ten player in the league) though he might be snubbed yet again. Chris Paul and Steve Nash need no introduction. That leaves Davis as the most controversial pick here, and I think he is in a virtual tie with Williams. Tie-breaker goes to the team with no all-stars, and I think the coaches will agree with me, though I think Ginobili will lose out to the feel-good story Roy or the slightly overrated Josh Howard.
Prediction: Nowitzki, Boozer, Stoudemire, Paul, Nash, Davis and Howard, though the last pick could go in any number of directions.