With the All-Star reserves being revealed Thursday night on TNT, I decided to lay out my predictions of who deserves to represent the NBA’s finest players in New York City on February 15th.
Backcourt: Kyrie Irving – CLE , Jimmy Butler – CHI
Frontcourt: Paul Millsap – ATL, Chris Bosh – MIA, Kyle Korver – ATL
Wild Cards: Dwyane Wade – MIA, Jeff Teague – ATL
Kyrie Irving has been a consistent threat for the inconsistent Cleveland Cavaliers, who have faced much adversity early on, and Jimmy Butler has developed into one of the best two-way shooting guards in the game; both players are very deserving of an all-star nod. I devoted the remaining six spots to players on the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. Wade and Bosh have both taken on greater roles following the departure of LeBron James in South Beach. Wade, specifically, has had a fantastic year, making a statement to those who claimed he was in significant decline. As for the Hawks, their tremendous season deserves to be rewarded with three all-stars. In my opinion, Millsap and Teague (who is 2nd in the East in PER) have been the two most dynamic play-makers, while Korver is having an unbelievable season shooting the basketball. Korver leads the NBA with a 53% clip from beyond the arc while making over three of them per game.
Biggest Snub: Al Horford, ATL – Horford has been a major key to the Hawks’ success, but I ultimately feel that he is the fourth most valuable player on his team. That being said, by no means would I be surprised if he winds up in New York City for the All-Star Game alongside his Atlanta teammates.
Backcourt: James Harden – HOU, Russell Westbrook – OKC
Frontcourt: LaMarcus Aldridge – POR, DeMarcus Cousins – SAC, Kevin Durant – OKC
Wild Cards: Chris Paul – LAC, Damian Lillard – POR
Injury Replacement: Klay Thompson – GSW
The reserve backcourt of Harden and Westbrook is absolutely filthy. I have been especially impressed with Harden’s improved leadership in Houston, as well as his ability to get virtually any shot he wants on offense. The inside-out combination of Aldridge and Lillard in Portland is just about as good as it gets in the NBA; Aldridge’s decision to play through a thumb injury that would normally require surgery shows his true competitiveness and hunger to win, something all fans should want their star player to have. “Boogie” Cousins has been a double-double machine, and his maturity has most definitely propelled him to an All-Star caliber season. Durant and Paul are no strangers of the All-Star game and should definitely be invited to take part once again. Rounding out the roster, Klay Thompson has had a masterful year for the Warriors, one that is certainly deserving of All-Star recognition. He would replace the legendary Kobe Bryant, who is out for the next nine months recovering from a torn rotator cuff.
Biggest Snub: Tim Duncan, SAS – Many would argue that the Big Fundamental has earned what would be his fifteenth All-Star appearance, but the West is so stacked that there is simply no more room on my roster. I doubt Duncan would complain either way, as a relaxing beach vacation may sound even more appealing for the 18 year NBA veteran.
However the rosters turn out, the All-Star game should definitely be a highlight reel of entertainment!
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