The NBA season very much upon us and, at the midway point, we get a clear idea of which direction teams are headed. We start to see that teams like the Pistons and Knicks are a real threat to make the playoffs in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff picture. Teams like the Hornets and Bucks will likely not be able to crawl out of the early hole they put themselves in.
The All-Star Game comes into conversation at this point in the season as well, so we will take a look at the potential rosters for the Eastern and Western Conference. The fan-voted starters is always a topic of debate and Kobe Bryant, much like Allen Iverson in 09-10, is a shoe-in starter despite his pedestrian numbers. The All-Star Game serves no purpose more than entertaining the fans so having Kobe in his final season in the game makes perfect sense. The other side of the of the coin is that it leaves an actual deserving players on the outside looking in. So let’s take a look at the projected rosters, starting with the Eastern Conference.
The starters are very arguable but again, it’s the fans vote. I would say only Lebron and Paul George are deserving of the starting role. Wall, Butler and Bosh are the most clearly deserving which leaves you with three spots for roughly 10 to 15 guys that you could argue are deserving of a spot on the roster. I left off names like Pau Gasol, Reggie Jackson, Kemba Walker, Paul Millsap, Kevin Love, Greg Monroe, Nik Vucevic and a few more with worthy numbers.
With Kyle Lowry narrowly taking the starter spot from Kyrie Irving, I think that leaves Irving out of the game with Wall, Jackson and Thomas slotted in behind Lowry. Hassan Whiteside has put up some very impressive numbers but the starting roster features guards and small forwards only, which makes the center position a very crowded field for the reserve spots. There is always a surprise or two when it comes to the reserves so I am curious to see who that will be.
Whew! Kawhi Leonard was voted in. He clearly deserved it but with Kobe taking one of the front-court spots and Draymond Green putting up big numbers, it wasn’t so clear this would be the outcome. A last minute push by the Zaza Pachulia fan club nearly surprised us all.
It’s amazing to me that not one true big man was voted into a starter spot. It just goes to show which direction the league is going in. The Western Conference definitely has more deserving big men than the Eastern Conference. It’s always hard to leave Dirk Nowitzki and Blake Griffin off of the roster but with the guys ahead of them and with Griffin missing significant time, I think he may miss the cut.
Last year, I was one of the people on the side that thought Deandre Jordan was completely snubbed from the All-Star Game. I wouldn’t go as far as Clippers Head Coach, Doc Rivers, saying he was the best defender in the league, however, he is a dominant force on the boards and hits his shots/dunks (not free throws) when he gets the opportunity. This year, I don’t think he has done enough to get himself into the game and I wouldn’t consider it a snub if he didn’t.
Klay Thompson would likely be my 13th man on the roster mainly because of his inconsistency. However, his contributions to a 39-4 Golden State Warriors team will definitely help it. I love what CJ McCollum has done this year but I see him more as a Most Improved Player top candidate [if he can keep it up all year], than an All-Star.
As the year shapes up and every article we see is about the Warriors chasing the 72 win season. The Spurs fly under the radar, only two games behind the Warriors. The Sixers and Lakers “Tank for Ben Simmons” campaigns are in full swing, we get to take a step back from the regular season and enjoy an All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Now all we have to wait for is to see who will join the festivities.