The NBA announced the starters for next month’s All Star Game in Houston today. In a not really surprising development, no Memphis Grizzlies were selected as starters. The reserves will be announced next week. But let’s take a look at the starters for the Eastern and Western Conference.
In a change from previous years, voters selected 2 back court and 3 front court players rather than the traditional point guard, shooting guard, power forward, small forward, and center positions.
Rajon Rondo, guard (Boston Celtics)
Rondo is having a great season for the 20-18 Celtics, who are struggling as a team. The Celtics will make the playoffs, mainly because the East is so terrible. Rondo is averaging 13 points, 11.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. He is shooting 49.2% from the field and 25.5% from 3 point range. As always, he struggles at the free throw line, making just 63.2% from the line. With Derrick Rose still out at least for a little while, Rondo is arguably the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Even when Rose is healthy, those two are 1 and 1A in some order.
Dwyane Wade, Guard (Miami Heat)
You can argue Wade has lost a step or two, but he is still a great if not elite player. Wade is averaging 19.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 assists. He is shooting 50.4% from teh field and 35.9% from 3 point range. wade makes 75.1% of his free throws.
LeBron James, Forward (Miami Heat)
This is a no-brainer. James is having another ho-hum MVP caliber season. The only semi-surprising thing is Kobe Bryant narrowly beating him out for overall top vote getter. James, Bryant, and Kevin Durant all had over 1.5 million votes, but they are the three best players in the league and most popular so that is no surprise. James is averaging 26 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He is shooting 54.6% from the field and 39.8% from 3 point range. James makes 74% of his free throws.
Carmelo Anthony, Forward (New York Knicks)
Another easy choice. Anthony is averaging 29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and a steal a game. Anthony is shooting 46.1% from the field and 42.1% from 3 point range. He makes 82% of his free throws.
Kevin Garnett, Forward/Center (Boston Celtics)
Garnett is the only starter on the Eastern Conference the voters got wrong. This spot should have gone to Tyson Chandler or Chris Bosh. Garnett is a sure fire hall-of-famer and is making his 15th All-Star appearance. However, he isn’t having an all-star caliber year compared to Chandler or Bosh. Garnett is averaging 14.6 points, 7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Chandler is averaging 12.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, and a block a game. Bosh is averaging 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. Garnett, Bosh, Chandler will make the team, and the starter is ceremonial at best. and yes, the voters will vote for the most popular player. Still Garnett should not be starting in this game.
Kobe Bryant, Guard (Los Angeles Lakers)
Where would the 11th place Lakers be without Kobe Bryant? Kobe is averaging 29.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. Kobe leads the league in scoring. Like Garnett, Bryant is also maing his 5th all-star appearance.
Chris Paul, Guard (Los Angeles Clippers)
Paul is averaging 16.8 points, 9.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game. He is second in assists to Rondo and leads the league in steals. You could argue Russell Westbrook or James Harden deserves one of these two spots, but it would hard to replace Kobe and CP3. Westbrook and Harden will make the team as reserves though.
Kevin Durant, Forward (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Durant is arguably having the best year of his young career. He has discovered a much needed mean streak. In fact Durant was ejected from a game for the first time in his career a few weeks ago. Durant is third in scoring behind Kobe and Carmelo. Durant averages 28.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. The Thunder are a game ahead o the Clippers for the best record in the league. Durant will be a fixture at All-star games for many years to come.
Blake Griffin, Forward (Los Angeles Clippers)
Griffin is one of the most popular players in the league. He is averaging 17.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Again this is a popularity contest so Griffin will get a lot of votes. He will always be more popular than the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph who is arguably having a better year. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding at 11.6 per game and also averages 16.4 points a game. Randolph has a very good shot of making the team as a reserve.
Dwight Howard, Center (Los Angeles Lakers)
Howard is averaging 17.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal, and 2.6 blocks per game. He is still recovering from back surgery. Still, I think this spot should have gone to Randolph or Tim Duncan. Duncan is averaging 17.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.8 blocks. It is a little ridiculous that the 17-21 Lakers will struggle to make the playoffs but they have 2 starters on the All-Star team. Again people will vote for the most popular players regardless if they deserve it or not.
On TNT’s pre-game show Thursday night when the starters were announced for the All-Star game, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber made their choices for the reserves. All four were in consensus that Randolph should make the team. Barkley took heat from the others when he picked Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol over Tim Duncan despite earlier saying Duncan should start over Howard. Randolph seems likely to make the team, and Gasol seems to be a long shot barring injuries. Other possible Memphis players that could be considered are forward Rudy Gay and point guard Mike Conley Jr. They are both talented players, but play at positions that are much too deep for them to warrant serious consideration.
Tags: 2013 NBA All-Star Game Blake Griffin Carmelo Anthony Chris Paul Dwight Howard Dwyane Wade Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant Lebron James Memphis Grizzlies NBA Rajon Rondo Western Conference