Sorry about taking the day off, and I hope y’all can forgive me.
It was important to me to get this post out before the NBA officially announces its 2009-2010 NBA All-Stars. I want to see how much of a read I have on the NBA season so far, since I have admittedly not been following my team as much as in recent years. If you were to ask me last year to do something while the Lakers were playing, you’d be lucky if I didn’t delete you from my phone’s contact list, rid myself of you and anyone associated with you, and spread vicious rumors about your sexuality to anyone willing to listen. I you asked me this year, I’d probably take you up on your offer, assuming it was something I would normally do if the Lakers weren’t playing.
The purchase of a DVR was a major contributor in that, but surprisingly, I am not as excited since we won the championship last year. After following the Lakers for as long as I have, and watching their and Kobe’s fall from grace(basically to the bottom of the totem pole), seeing them win it all was deliciously redemptive. Not just for Kobe, but for me as well. I, along with a select few, defended him amidst the sexual assault trial, the Shaq trade, the Karl Malone dispute, the Ray Allen quarrel, and the Kwame Brown era. Most everybody knows about the first two, while only a few know about the Malone and Allen incidents, and everyone in the State of California wants to forget about the last one.
So, essentially, I feel like I’ve won, and so has Kobe and all of L.A. We all won when the Lakers defeated the Magic in June…except for the Magic.
Let me warn you guys now that this post is going to include who I feel should be NBA All-Stars this season, and not necessarily who the general public or columnists around the country feel should be All-Stars. We’ll start with the East.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
This was tough for me. I wrestled back and forth between Rondo and Joe Johnson. Both of them have had fantastic seasons, and legitimate cases can be made for either of them to be a starter. I went with Rondo for two reasons. 1. He has been the most healthy and consistent player on the team with the second best record in the Eastern Conference. 2. Rondo is a pure point guard, and call me old-fashioned, but I think the All-Star starters should have a point and a shooting guard. With Johnson instead of Rondo, it would further complicate the reserve roles of the All-Star roster. Rondo has been the best floor general in the Eastern Conference. His aging team has battled injuries to their entire roster not including Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins, and Rondo has carried them on his back to help them maintain a very impressive 27-13 record.
Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade
There really is no other competition for this role other than Johnson. That’s not to say that there is a shortage of good shooting guards in the East, but Dwayne is just light years ahead of the competition. His efficiency is down across the board, as are his numbers of consistent outings, but that does not matter. My buddy is shooting himself in the foot for drafting him ahead of LeBron in our fantasy draft this year, and with good reason. Dwayne is the best shooting guard not named Kobe Bryant, but this isn’t his best year. Despite that, he’s clearly the best option for this position.
Small Forward: LeBron James
“If Jesus’ paying LeBron , I’m paying Dwayne Wade.”-Jay Z
Power Forward: Chris Bosh
This one isn’t even close. Bosh is having the best year of his career, averaging 24.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 1.1 bpg, and all while shooting 52.5% from the field and 42.9% from three-point range. His Toronto Raptors started the season terribly, but have since been on somewhat of a mini-tear. They plowed through the end of December and most of January with Bosh at the helm. He’s been explosive on the year, and he seems to be playing with something to prove. In his matchups against premier big men, Bosh posted some massive numbers, like his 35-point, 16-rebound performance against Dwight Howard. He plays well all the time, especially when it counts.
Center: Dwight Howard
Similar to Dwayne Wade, Howard is not having his best year. Unlike Dwayne, though, there really isn’t a legitimate alternative to the center position in the East. Howard is the best the conference has to offer, and there really isn’t anybody else. Outside of Dwight, the rest looks bleak, with guys like Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bogut being the only players worthy enough to mention. I think the reason his numbers are down is because of his coach. The Hedgehog seems to be preserving his young, bulky center, and relying on the old legs of Vince Carter and frail body of Jameer Nelson to get through the regular season. On top of that, Dwight plays for quite possibly the deepest team in the league. However, he’s still the best at the position. I mean, who else is going to go? Shaq? Come on now.
6th man: Gerald Wallace
This guy has been BALLING. I can’t stress how well he’s played this year, and his numbers hardly do him justice. The guy plays the small forward position, and for a while was leading the NBA in rebounds. He’s no taller than 6’7”, and he was leading the league in rebounds. That’s Charles Barkley-esque. On top of that, he was helping his team stay afloat in the playoff race before Captain Jack came to town, and the two have seemingly clicked. They have the Charlotte Bobcats in the 5 seed if the playoffs started today. Wallace has to be in the lead for Defensive Player of the Year, and as Daniel Leroux noted in his All-Star column, “It’s just unfortunate he plays the same position as the league’s MVP.”
6 remaining spots, in no particular order
Guards: Joe Johnson(ATL), Mo Williams(CLE-don’t give me that look. I know I ripped the East for choosing him last year, but this year, I feel like he’s earned it. If it’s not LeBron winning it for the Cavs, it’s Mo, who looks like the dad of Kid N’ Play from the movie “House Party”)
Forwards: Josh Smith(ATL), Antawn Jamison(WAS), Paul Pierce(BOS-give him the slight edge over Luol Deng of CHI due to similar numbers but a winning record)
Center: Andrew Bogut(MIL)
Western Conference Starters
Point Guard: Chris Paul
Once again, this was a tough call. Only this time, the contender was the ageless but ugly Steve Nash. Chances are I went with Paul because he’s not a member of the Phoenix Suns, who I hate more than mayonnaise. Since the two are both on mediocre teams, and Paul’s numbers are slightly better(especially on defense, where he touts an impressive 2.2 steals per game to Nash’s ridiculously unimpressive and not talked about enough 0.4 steals per game), I give the edge to CP3. Plus, I hate Nash and the Suns. But seriously, look who Paul plays with compared to Nash. On top of that, he has battled the injury bug this season, and they both have similar records.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Was there ever any doubt? Besides, Mr. 81’s special day is only 20 hours away. January 22nd. Get ready for National Kobe Day. Kobe’s played more minutes than I’d like at this point in the season and at this point in his career, but it’s only adding to his legacy considering the injuries he’s incurred while doing so.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Wow, this keeps getting tougher and tougher. Durant squeaks by Denver’s Carmelo Anthony because he has played more games and posted better numbers. Durant is averaging one more rebound than Anthony, and is averaging 29.2 ppg in just his third year in the league. That’s insane. I just watched NBA Gametime and they interviewed Jerry Stackhouse, who just returned from retirement, and when he was asked who the most impressive rookie or young player is, he cited Durant as a freakish athlete. He wasn’t lying. The kid’s arms are so long, he is the guy that should guard Kobe whenever OKC plays the Lakers. Whenever Durant is on Kobe, Kobe goes into one-on-one mode, and the length of Durant continually disrupts it. This is coming from a guy who worships Kobe, so just take my word for it, alright? Durant is amazing, and he deserves this.
Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki
Again, I’m tired of having to choose, but I have to go with Dirk. He’s worked his way back into my top 5 since he cut his hair. I couldn’t stand that ridiculous headband. The Big German has really turned a corner this year. For that, I put him over the resurging Tim Duncan. Dirk’s numbers are impressive, but what has stood out to me is his nastiness down low. He has developed a really vicious back-to-the-basket game that he didn’t have up until last season. This year, he’s dominating his defenders on the block. He’s use that new style to hit some big shots this season, including a few game-winners(boy does Milwaukee have a bad run of luck in that department). Plus, he’s the best player on the best team in the Southwest Division.
Center: Amar’e Stoudemire
I really hate this guy. I would much rather give this slot to Andrew Bynum or Al Jefferson, but I just can’t. Bynum hasn’t had as productive a season, and Jeff doesn’t boast enough wins. I am a stout believer in records not coming into play in All-Star voting unless there’s a tie statistically. Unfortunately, Jeff doesn’t boast numbers that would unseat Amar’e from his spot. By the way, I have a theory about STAT. I really think that his numbers have no impact on the outcome of the game. I know that sounds like an oxy-moron, but it isn’t. Amar’e’s numbers can be huge, and at the same time they can be small. Either way, it doesn’t really impact his team in the Win-Loss column. The reason for this is because of how porous of a defender he is. The guy can’t guard anybody in the post. He’s a useless center in a small forward body.
6th man: Carmelo Anthony
Not much to say here. The Melo Man has done it all when he’s been on the floor this year. He’s become an impossible cover, and one of the best pure scorers in the NBA. For my money, he’s a better scorer than LeBron any day of the week. LeBron is a bruiser, but Melo is a better all-around scorer. He has one of the purest jump shots, be it off the dribble or set, and his post-up game is impressive. Quicker forwards might be able to cover him on the perimeter, and bigger forwards might be able to force him off the box, but there isn’t a defender in the league that can do both. Not even LeBron.
Guards: Steve Nash(PHX), Brandon Roy(POR), Deron Williams(UTAH)
Forwards: Pau Gasol(LAL), Tim Duncan(SA)
Center: Zach Randolph(MEM)
I would love to hear your guys’ opinion, especially if it’s different than mine.
Till next time.