Pistons representation during NBA All-Star Weekend has been somewhat of a rarity in recent seasons. The last Pistons player to make the All-Star Game was Allen Iverson in 2009. Before that, Piston representation was quite common, with Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups all featured regularly, and in fact all four of them made it together in 2005, one of only two times that four players from the same team have been selected to an All-Star Game.
With the Pistons' lack of success over the last few years, fans haven't been voting for such superstar names like Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Walker Russell, ignored for the bright lights were fellows like Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell and Kwame Brown. As the team looks to turn the corner, exiting the arduous rebuilding phase, the chances of having an All Star on the roster grow, as team success factors into decision making. As fans vote for the starting five, this is largely a popularity contest (hence how Iverson was voted in in '09). I have no faith in the fans votes, because guys like Kobe Bryant will get undeserved selection. The best chance a Pistons player has this season is to be a coach's selection.
In this article, I'll go through the main events at All-Star Weekend, the three-point shootout, slam dunk contest, rising stars challenge, and the big show, and evaluate who the likeliest Pistons are to be selected.
To get selected in the three-point shootout, you need to have a pretty good percentage. To do well in the shootout, you need to have a quick release and the ability to get hot quickly. So who are the most likely Pistons to get selected.
Jodie Meeks (probability: 50%)
Jodie Meeks recently hit nine threes in a game vs. the Orlando Magic, on 11 attempts. He also has a lightning quick release and no wasted motion in his form, allowing for consistency and deadly accuracy. However, since that outing, he has shot 10-38, and for the season has a percentage of .375. He has looked sluggish lately, as his injury which resulted in him missing most of preseason appears to have affected his conditioning slightly, and he has no legs in his shot. However, with the schedule easing up soon allowing for more rest days, look for him to pick up his form and his percentage.
Brandon Jennings (20%)
The thing that works against Jennings here is his percentages. Granted, he is shooting a career best .379 from behind the arc on 5.1 attempts per game, but he has a history of inefficiency, and his numbers have been bolstered by his ridiculously torrid shooting in the PSE, including Friday night's victory over Indiana where he shot 8-13 from downtown. However, Jennings has a lightning quick, if not consistent, release, and certainly has the ability to get hot, or enter what we like to call on DBB "swag mode". He could be a dark horse, but probably not.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5%)
I only include KCP here for the fact that he is our starting shooting guard, and has the ability to heat up in a hurry, just ask Atlanta. However, his release certainly isn't the quickest, and he can be fairly inefficient, as his three point percentage has risen this season, but only to roughly league average at .349. But, on NBA 2K he always seems to make it, and actually won it one year when I was competing with my MyPlayer (for those who know), so you never know.
Other Options (All 0%, reason listed in brackets)
Kyle Singler (slow release)
Jonas Jerebko (glacial release)
Anthony Tolliver (percentages/limited sample size)
D.J. Augustin (percentages)
SLAM DUNK CONTEST
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (30%)
KCP is very athletic, and has shown that he can fly with the best of them. He fits the mold of those that appear to be selected for this contest, which in recent years has gravitated towards long, rangy, athletic guards a la Ben McLemore and Terrence Ross. KCP also appears to be our best example of a contest dunker, with the best chance to exhibit style and creativity.
Andre Drummond (10%)
Yes, Drummond's offense is 90% dunks, #LetDreDunk, but the contest has steered away from picking big men recently. Also, Drummond appears to be a game dunker more than a contest dunker, despite his athletic prowess. Most of his dunks are on the powerful side, and it doesn't appear he has the finesse or creativity to succeed in competition format. Maybe if they got Elton Brand to stand under the basket...
Brandon Jennings (2%)
Believe it or not, Brandon has been picked for the contest before, in his sophomore season with Milwaukee in 2011. However, he was unfortunately forced to withdraw due to a broken foot. Jennings has a large vertical for someone of his size, and has an advantage over the competition as smaller dunkers are generally more impressive as they can demonstrate more hops, but this is unlikely.
Jonas Jerebko (Paul George is injured and as such cannot act as a defensive rebounder for Jonas to jump over)
RISING STARS CHALLENGE
As this game is basically the rookie-sophomore game, but with teams now mixed up, the Pistons only have three eligible players. Spencer Dinwiddie and Luigi Datome are currently away in the D-League, which leaves KCP as the lone chance.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (70%)
KCP is much improved this season. His points per game has more than doubled, from 5.9 to 11.9, while his role has also expanded. Also, when you consider the draft classes he is up against, most of his class has stalled this season, while the rookies are all dropping like flies (Wiggins, Exum and Payton the only top 10 picks to play consistently this season). This leaves a big chance for KCP to continue the tradition, as Andre Drummond was MVP of this game last season.
Andre Drummond (25%)
Andre's best chance of being voted in to the ASG is by the coaches, because his chances of being fan-voted are slim to none. He's played on a, until recently, largely unwatchable team, who has had limited success. His stats have somewhat plateaued as well, with his points and rebounds slightly down, and his FG% way down. He has been improving in the PSE, but is still prone to far too many dud games, and hasn't really displayed the consistency for All-Star selection thus far.
Brandon Jennings (10%)
Of all the Pistons, Brandon Jennings is perhaps best suited to the All-Star Game. It's a no-defence chuckfest, something which historically aligns with Jennings' basketball philosophies. His assists are down from his career-high rate of last season, but still respectable at 6.4. He's also shooting career best numbers from both the three point line and free throw line, and is currently on pace to break the 40-percent barrier from the field for just the second time in his career. Also, his play in the PSE has been torrid (the good kind). Does this equate to All-Star selection, probably not, but he does have the swag to light it up.
Greg Monroe (1%)
I just needed a third option. While Greg Monroe puts up really good, if not spectacular, numbers, his style of play often leaves him ignored around the league. He's a methodical worker, without the style of his flashier teammates, but perhaps is the most consistent performer. He may be an All Star in the future, but it'll be harder for him to break through than his teammate Drummond.
Now I'm just going to run through who I think should be the All-Star starters, the dunk contest contestants and the three point shooters. I won't do the Rising Stars game because that can get messy.
EAST: Kyle Korver, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight (I'm serious), Brandon Jennings*
WEST: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry
SLAM DUNK CONTEST
EAST: K.J. McDaniels, Terrence Ross, James Johnson
WEST: Gerald Green, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine
EAST: Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Al Horford
WEST: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis
*Brandon Jennings is 7th in the East in threes made (20th in the league), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is 5th in East (18th in league)
What say you, DBB? Who would be your picks for each? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.