minoroots

about the 2009 NBA All-Star selections

Posted in Hoops, Opinion by minoroots on 01/23/2009

All-Star starters were announced today. They are:

Vote Again to Win

Chris
Paul
New Orleans
Kobe
Bryant
Los Angeles
Tim
Duncan
San Antonio
Amar’e
Stoudemire
Phoenix
Yao
Ming
Houston

Allen
Iverson
Detroit
Dwyane
Wade
Miami
LeBron
James
Cleveland
Kevin
Garnett
Boston
Dwight
Howard
Orlando

Now, because the starters are always based on fan voting, there’s naturally a bias toward big-name stars and toward any player from China since there’s a billion countrymen voting for Yao and Yi Jianlian (and I bet several wrote in for Sun Yue). Yi was actually close to making it on the East team (3rd in WCF forwards, just behind KG)… which doesn’t really make sense, considering he’s the 3rd option (at best) on a weak New Jersey team.

Although Yi didn’t make the lineup, there are questionable selections and glaring omissions from this starting 10, probably summing up the votes of casual fans that don’t really follow the game on a day-to-day basis. Or, of people who are super-biased toward their favorite team or player. Though this is OK, because the whole point of the All-Star game is that fans get to watch their favorite players play against each other… but I guess I’m a bit of a purist and I’d rather see players who are playing the best ball of their lives this year, as opposed to a fan-favorite who currently may not be playing at the highest level that the NBA has to offer.

Anyway, after taking a quick glance at the lineups, the first thing that pops out to me is the selection of Allen Iverson as the East’s starting guard. By this season’s standards, I think it’s an obvious blunder by the fans that voted him in. AI is having by far one of the worst seasons of his career, both in terms of individual production (17.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.6 spg, all below his career averages of 27.3 ppg, 6.3 apg, and 2.2 spg) and his net effect on his new team, the Detroit Pistons. What I see is a perennially solid Detroit team (24-17, 5th in the East) struggling to keep up with the elite East teams (8.5 games behind Boston, Cleveland, Orlando), while the man he was traded for (Chauncey Billups) is leading a so-so Denver team to new heights–something Iverson was not able to do during his tenure there.

So who would I take in place of Iverson? My first instinct would be to expand the forward slot and slide in Danny Granger (who is having a phoenomenal year, averaging 25.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.6 3pt, 1.3 bpg, and hitting a fair share of game-winners for Indiana)… but if we must adhere to the 2-guard lineup, my choice would be Joe Johnson. He’s the leader on a surprising Atlanta team, currently sitting at #4 in the East, and they have played well in close losses to the big-name teams this year. He’s averaging 22.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.0 spg–and while his numbers are impressive, his value to the team is even greater. When JJ plays poorly, the Hawks almost always lose. He leads the league in minutes played at 40.0 mpg. That’s just 8 minutes per game that he rests.

[UPDATE: How could I forget? yancanwrite reminded me of other Eastern All-Star caliber guards like Jameer Nelson & Devin Harris (though currently injured and production dropping… but I think he deserves MIP at the end of the year if he keeps up his play). Also Ray Allen, who in my opinion, has been the best player for the Celtics thus far–moreso than All-Star starter KG.]

I wrote at length about the Iverson selection because that was the one selection that stood out to me (negatively) the most, but here’s a quick summary of how I feel about the other picks:

West:

  • CP3 – Best PG in the game.
  • Kobe – Stats are down, but he’s leading the best team in the NBA playing a different style of ball the better suits the team. Plus, his talent is unquestioned and he’s still playing in his prime. He belongs here.
  • Duncan – Kept a TP and Manu-less Spurs afloat for the first 20 games (can you imagine Boston without Ray Allen and Paul Pierce? They’d be worse than the T’Wolves). He’s as solid as they come.
  • Amare – I don’t really like this pick, but he gets in with some viral marketing and because the All-Star game’s in Phoenix… For a guy nicknamed STAT, he’s not really having a good season statistically (20.6 ppg, down from 26.7 ppg last year) and his team struggled in the first half of the season. Dirk Nowitzki is definitely having a better season (26.0 ppg, up from 23.6 ppg last year) and although Dallas is struggling just as much as the suns, I think he’s worthy of this spot–at least moreso than Amare.
  • Yao – 1 billion strong. However, his play also justifies him as the best C in the West. GSW’s Biedrins (rebound monster), Denver’s Nene (great season this year), and Sota’s Al Jefferson (scoring machine) all warrant consideration, but I still think Yao comes out on top. He’s leading a team of scrubs (without injured McGrady and Artest) to a respectable standing in the brutal West race.

East:

  • AI – see above.
  • Wade – Miami was supposed to be a lottery team this year. D-Wade is playing out of his mind and the Heat are sitting comfortably at 6th in the East.
  • LeBron – are you kidding me? He’s a lock for the next 8 years.
  • KG – debatable. I guess having at least one player from one of the best teams in the league make the starting roster is inevitable, but some guys (like the aforementioned Granger) are playing better ball right now, in my opinion. Chris Bosh also comes to mind as well. But all things considered… I think the same argument used for Kobe applies here, and KG is still the right pick.
  • Superman –3 million + votes? Most in All-Star history? There’s no C in the world that can compare to Dwight right now.

Update: Check out this great column by Henry Abbot at Truehoop regarding thoughts behind All-Star selections.

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One Response

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  1. martinyan37 said, on 01/23/2009 at 12:14 pm

    word up my man. can’t wait to see what d-ho does in the dunk contest this year!


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