Yes, the season has barely started, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the All-Star Game. As most of you know, the NBA eliminated the Center position from the All-Star ballot. People think it’s the death of a position, but it’s just something the league had to do. With Andrew Bynum out, we’re potentially looking at guys like Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, or Joakim Noah starting the All-Star Game. You know who used to start for the East at Center for All-Star Games? Shaquille O’Neal. Patrick Ewing. Bill Russell.
It’s still a lot of fun to vote for All-Star game starters (certainly more fun than voting for President) and if the All-Star Game were to be played next weekend, these would be my picks. This is completely based on regular season play thus far, and does take into account that starters will be made up of more popular players. This will be split into a four-part article because long articles are hard to read. The first part will cover Eastern Conference starters.
Guard – Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
With the way Rajon Rondo has been playing lately, he has been as good (if not better) than Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets. It is still early, but few analysts or fans could have anticipated Rondo would be averaging 13.3 assists a game this season. My gut says Rondo is a more popular player than Deron Williams because everyone has known about him since the Big 3 came together, and last season he had some amazing playoff performances. A quick look at the statistics and record book shows us that Rondo is currently in the midst of the fourth longest 10+ assist game streak ever. Awesome.
Guard – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade seems to have taken the biggest statistical hit this season as a result of the Miami team up, but put him in James Harden’s situation where he is a clear number one option, no one would ever doubt how good of a basketball player he is.
The two games the Heat have lost this season were completely blowouts that were decided by the end of the first half, which in my eyes is better than losing a close game in the final minute. What I’m trying to say is that the Heat have been playing great basketball, and the sad thing is Dwyane Wade is not as big a part of it as you may think. Remember when LeBron first joined Miami and everyone insisted that it was still Wade’s team? Now Wade is the third option because 2012-2013 Heat offense involves James looking for shooters and Chris Bosh down low. So far this season anyway.
Forward – LeBron James, Miami Heat
Nothing to do with an All-Star selection, but the reason why people always talk about LeBron James possibly being the greatest player of all time and not Kobe Bryant (when they were at similar stages of their careers) is that Kobe Bryant is pretty much Michael Jordan. If basketball players were clam chowders, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant would both be New England clam chowders, and LeBron James would be a Manhattan clam chowder. Michael is easily the greatest New England clam chowder ever, and LeBron is looking more and more like the best Manhattan clam chowder to ever be chowder-ed. The greatest clam chowder in the world could either be a New England or a Manhattan. It’s hard to debate that, because both styles are completely different. But the thing is Kobe has, and never will be the greatest New England style clam chowder ever, so we can’t include him in discussion of the greatest clam chowder of all time.
That entire paragraph has achieved nothing but a desperate craving for a nice bowl of clam chowder.
Forward – Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
What is the secret to the early season success of the Knicks? It definitely has to do with the new point guard situation. Raymond Felton has single handedly made Carmelo a better basketball player by eating significantly more food than anyone else at team dinners, and as a result keeping Carmelo Anthony in much better shape.
On a slightly more serious note, Carmelo has been a much better team basketball player this season. I’ve talked about Carmelo with a lot with many people, and a few of them agree with me that Carmelo is not a bad off-ball player at all. We’ve seen this a lot from the past Olympics and other FIBA tournaments. The Carmelo we’ve seen so far gets most of his points off assists for Kidd/Felton, and when he does have the ball in an iso situation, he is able to score and make a move within the first three seconds of possession. You can never completely get rid of bad habits, but Carmelo is not nearly the same offensive blackhole that he was even a season ago.
If prime Jason Kidd was on this Knicks team… Oh man.
Forward/Center – Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Rounding out the rest of the Big 3 and adding a fourth player from the 2003 draft to the lineup is Christopher Bosh. It’s a real pleasure watching Chris bounce back from all the criticism and undeserved hatred to becoming one of the more appreciated players in the NBA. In whatever Heat game it was this season when LeBron had to sit out the end of the game due to some ankle injury, Chris Bosh carried the team to a victory. It was ugly, but he got the job done.
Related to the Heat, but not Chris Bosh specifically, the current Miami Heat team only works with LeBron in the line up. Without LeBron, a line up of Bosh, Wade, and three shooters is not a serious contender. You get burned on defense without a presence like LeBron, and no one else can see the court as well as the Chosen One can. Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been a handful of offenses that have been historically relevant and often cited as successful basketball. We have the classics like the Showtime Lakers and the Stockton and Malone pick and roll, and in more recent times, we have the Weber Kings, the Seven Seconds or Less Suns, as well as various iterations of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.
What the Heat are doing right now belongs in that conversation. What other offense is capable of making an injured Mike Miller relevant? I’ll be the first to just call it ‘LeBronball’ for a lack of a better name. It’s an offense we will remember years from now. Really. It is the perfect balance between superstar domination (what the NBA is all about) and team basketball.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, where I will reveal my picks for the Western Conference starters.
Feel free to leave your comments below.