Sunday, February 20, 2011

NBA All-Star Game Picks

TONY'S PICKS

Eastern All-Stars:

Starters:
PG - Derrick Rose
SG - Dwyane Wade
SF - LeBron James
PF - Amar'e Stoudemire
C - Dwight Howard

Analysis: They got all of these right, though it would've been pretty hard to screw these ones up. And to people saying that Rondo and KG deserve to start over Rose and Amar'e: shut up, just shut up. They've carried their teams into the playoffs and they're both in the MVP race, something neither Rondo nor Kevin "I like to touch other blokes' naughty bits" Garnett can claim.

Reserve:
PG - Rajon Rondo
SG - Ray Allen
SF - Paul Pierce
PF - Kevin Garnett
PF - Chris Bosh
C - Al Horford
SG - Joe Johnson

Analysis: Joe Johnson started out the year terribly, the Hawks have been overall underwhelming this year and he's a big reason why, seeing as he shot them out of more than a few games in the beginning of the season. Josh Smith hasn't been as great as he was last year, but he's still had an all-star worthy season... again. While he hasn't been as great defensively as he was last year, he's actually added the three-point shot back to his game and is actually shooting a good percentage, somewhere around 36 percent I believe. Either way, he deserves to get in after getting royally snubbed last season.

Western All-Stars:

Starters:
PG - Chris Paul
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Carmelo Anthony
PF - Kevin Durant
C - Yao Ming

Analysis: Jesus Christ, where do I begin? I guess I'll start with the big Chinese elephant in the room. Something's gotta give with the fan voting because Yao starting in the all-star game after playing 5 GAMES is just plain stupid. He had a great run, but it's obvious that his career is over, which really does suck. It should be Pau, although Kevin Love has had a starter-worthy year. Which brings me to my next issue: Carmelo Anthony. Even with his recent 50-point game, he shouldn't have made it, let alone start. Kevin Love should have been starting, but since people want to turn the All-Star Game into the Best Players on the Best Teams Game, Love gets snubbed.

Reserves:
PF - Tim Duncan
SG - Manu Ginobili
PF - Pau Gasol
PF - Blake Griffin
PG - Russell Westbrook
PG - Deron Williams
PF - Dirk Nowitzki
PF - Kevin Love (replacement for Yao Ming)

Analysis:
Tim Duncan shouldn't be in, there's no arguing it. He just shouldn't be in the All-Star Game. Because of his selection, guys like Monta Ellis (the guy I would've picked had Timmy not been selected), Steve Nash, LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph all get the snub. Hell, if Stern didn't make the right choice in selecting Love to replace Yao, even Kevin Love would've been snubbed. It blows my mind how stupid these NBA coaches are. They have to be high or something, because that's the only way they can say that Tim Duncan deserves to be in the All-Star Game over Kevin Love. Everyone else here deserved to be in and I'm glad that Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin didn't get snubbed. For some reason, in the NFL and NBA both, they like to snub young players the year before they decide to let them in, regardless of how great of a year they've had. Nice to see the 50-year old NBA coaches finally growing up a little bit and realizing that hazing is best left to the college fraternities.

ARJUN'S PICKS

The Locks

Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade: The three best players in the game, even with Kobe slipping a little what with all the physical wear and tear…not much to say here.

Dirk Nowitzki: For my money Dirk’s deserves the MVP – nobody shoulders a bigger load for a finals contender. They win with defense and Dirk – their entire offense is centered on his unique skill set because they have absolutely no other playmakers. Without his ability to create looks out of nothing they would be a worse version of the Bucks. In any case Dirk has been a top ten guy this year and it’s a travesty that he wasn’t a starter.

Dwight Howard: Props on putting in the work over the summer to develop a real post-up game. Look this guy will never be Hakeem or Tim Duncan but his sheer competency on offense combined with his transcendent defense is the entire reason why such a flawed Orlando team is still a sneaky title contender. We’ll see if he can deliver buckets in June, but for now he has to be an all-star.

Kevin Durant: I think some of us (including me) went a little overboard by anointing him the Kobe-Wade-Lebron territory. He’s regressed a bit from last year defensively, and the Sonics clearly have a ways to go before becoming title contenders (and I still maintain that they should have added a blue chipper while they had the chance before that extension kicks in). I’m not totally sold on the Sonics for the playoffs given their lack of size (Serge Ibaka is close to becoming the most overrated young player in the game) – but it doesn’t change these picks.

Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook: The five best point guards, in that order (it kills me to say it because I finally started warming up to Steve Nash last year, but he’s shouldn’t be an all-star. He’s having a wonderful year and deserves a trade to a contender, but the league is just too deep). I know I’m in the minority but I still maintain that Rondo is the best point guard in the league despite his late game struggles. Boston’s entire offense revolves around his playmaking, creativity, and quickness and driving/finishing ability. The big three get the hype (to be fair KG anchors their bread and butter defense) but Rondo is the guy who creates open looks for them and sets them up in spots where they can score. No other point guard is a better floor general. CP and D-Wil have been business as usual, but it’s the next two guys who are interesting. Both of them took huge steps forward this year, only I felt like the media went overboard on them to the point that they’ve both gotten a tad overrated. Rose is great…but MVP worthy? His jumper and D are still erratic, and I don’t see him as the playmaker that others see. He’s not Jason Kidd folks, more like 2007 playoffs Baron Davis, which is still pretty damn good, but not a pure point guard. Westbrook has been a total revelation – maybe one day he’ll be the best point guard alive, but not now. Still, all locks.

Amare Stoudemire: Reverted back to pre-microfracture levels and made the Knicks relevant again. I’m not sold on him as an MVP candidate like other are, but no doubt he’s been nothing short of terrific. For dominating on the court and reinvigorating the garden crowd he has to be an all-star.

Kevin Garnett: I’ll be honest, I thought KG was done after limping around all of the second half of last season. Nope – he’s having the best season since his first year in Boston. He’s still one of the ten best defenders in the league and can still score one on one against most guys. Rondo is Boston’s MVP but Garnett has been as good as any power forward in the league.

Manu Ginobili: I love Tim Duncan, but Manu has been the best and most valuable player on the best team in the league. I’m sorry but if you don’t think that Manu has been as good as ever then shame on you for not watching enough spurs ball. Manu is a legit top five MVP candidate and for him not to be in would be a complete joke.

Blake Griffin: Put it this way: he made the Clippers matter. Done and done.

(By the way, Blake should get in every single year even if he isn’t one of the 12 best players in his conference. Not only will his singular intensity be refreshing for the game, but he’ll get the other players to care also because they won’t want to get embarrassed. When you get Baron Davis and the guys in the all-star game to give a shit you’ve done something special.)

Arguable, but the Right Call
Chris Bosh: Go ahead – say that he’s overpaid. Say that he had a terrible start to the season. Say that he needs to pick up his rebounding and defense. But don’t tell me that he hasn’t been one of the 25 best players this season.

Carmelo Anthony: To be quite honest, I think he’s been a little disappointing this year. It’s obvious that all the trade drama has affected his play. His scoring is still good but a little down, his defense and rebounding are as bad as ever, and he hasn’t been quite the same clutch performer as in years past. Put it this way: I don’t have a problem with him being in the game, but I wouldn’t have had a problem if he hadn’t been put in the game.

Al Horford: Carrying the Hawks while still playing out of position and seeing all the guards around him decline across the board. He still doesn’t get enough credit because the Hawks are so irrelevant.

Paul Pierce: No doubt his uniform pushed him over the top. Still, I can live with this pick, the east is weak at small forward; Pierce belongs

Joe Johnson: He did what guys do when they strike a $120 million contract and approach the age of 30: he slipped. To his credit he did recover from a horrible start to the year; basically the only reason this is defensible is because the east isn’t particularly deep at the wing position.

Kevin Love: Deserves a nod solely based on that 30-30 game. The best rebounder of the last 10 years, and he was the last guy picked? Goes to show you how deep this conference is.

Outright Travesties

Yao Ming: obviously

Tim Duncan: I love Tim Duncan. I believe he’s the best player of the past fifteen years, the classiest, most consistent, most underappreciated superstar athlete of my generation. He’s also not an all-star worthy player this year. It kills me to say it, but sorry, Timmy hasn’t been better than guys like Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge. Maybe he’s just saving his best for June,, but the all-star game is based on what you do from November to February.

Ray Allen: What a joke. He does one thing: runs off screens to shoot jumpers. He doesn’t rebound or play defense, and he doesn’t contribute to the offense in any other way besides catch and shoot. He got picked because of his team’s record (which has a lot more to do with KG and Rondo) and the name on the jersey.

The Biggest Snubs

Lamarcus Aldridge: It’s absolute garbage that he didn’t get in given the way he’s heroically put a depleted Portland team on his back and refused to let them die. He’s finally becoming the player we all knew he could be, using his unique skill set to cause matchup problems; he rebounds and defends like a center, takes other big men to school with his inside-out offensive game. This guy is definitely better than Kevin Love and Tim Duncan, so it’s a travesty that he was the odd man out among those three guys.

Josh Smith: I still don’t get why this guy isn’t an all-star. He’s simply the total package – rebounding, defense, can swing between both forward positions, and he’s finally learned to use his unique size and athleticism to dominate opposing power forwards off the bounce rather than rely on his average perimeter game. If you would rather watch Ray Allen in the game then I don’t know what to tell you.

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