Sep. 23, 2016
Predicting All-Star Reserves
Just kidding with the cover photo, Zaza Pachulia may have gotten a large portion of the fan vote, but I'm not serious about putting him in the All-Star game. It was all for humor. Still, the lack of big men in the starting lineup is really rather shocking, but also shows the true nature of the NBA today. Yes, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a near seven-footer, but he is the Milwaukee Buck's de facto point guard. Kevin Durant is near that in height as well, but he doesn't play center and rarely plays power forward. Anthony Davis is the only true "big man" in the starting lineup, and even he has the ball skills of a guard. So, here are my All-Star reserve votes for the East, and then the West.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston; Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto
Isaiah Thomas is second in the NBA in scoring, and leads the East, with 28.9 PPG. His Celtics are also in third place in the East and are in the middle of fighting Toronto for the #2 seed. Kyle Lowry is on said Toronto Raptors, with about 24 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists per game. He joins DeMar DeRozan as probably the best backcourt in the NBA.
Paul George, SF, Indiana; Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta; Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami
I would have put George in the starting lineup over Jimmy Butler, but that is just based off of a fan vote. George is another 20 point scorer, good floor leader, and lockdown two way player. Paul Millsap, amid trade rumors, is a guy who can do a little bit of everything for the Atlanta Hawks, and is a big reason why they have sustained their success. Hassan Whiteside is the leading rebounder in the NBA, has numerous double-doubles, and is top five in blocked shots.
EAST WILD CARDS
John Wall, PG, Washington; Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia
I picked John Wall over Kemba Walker because of the resurgence of the Wizards since their dreadful start to begin the season. Kemba Walker is probably having his best season, but their are too many point guards in the East at or greater than his overall skill level. I refrain from picking rookies most of the time, but Embiid is scoring 20 PPG as a rookie, hauling in eight boards, blocking 2.5 shots in only 25 minutes per game. He likely will be on a minutes restriction here as well.
Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City; Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State
It's really hard to blame anybody for not picking Westbrook when you have the two time defending MVP in Stephen Curry and James Harden with the year he is having as well. That said, Russ leads the NBA in triple doubles and scoring, and is having a better year than both of them. If he doesn't get in this way, I really don't know what to say about the league. Klay Thompson is still scoring in bunches and put up a 60 point game for the Warriors this season.
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento; Marc Gasol, C, Memphis; Gordan Hayward, SF, Utah
Cousins is the new best center in the NBA, and despite his temper tantrums still manages to put up outstanding numbers. I also learned earlier this month that he can now shoot threes. Marc Gasol is leading Memphis back to the postseason, and is doing so by leading his team in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots. As for Gordan Hayward, he is the key to a dangerous, young Utah team, and is a bit of a jack of all trades.
WEST WILD CARDS
Damian Lillard, PG, Portland; Draymond Green, PF, Golden State
Lillard is in the top 10 in scoring yet again, and if he can't find a way into this All-Star game, I don't think he ever will be able to. I know Portland isn't doing well right now, but Lillard is the key to the machine, and his guard next to him CJ McCollum deserves some consideration, although he shouldn't get in. As far as Draymond Green, scoring is down, but everything else is up. And c'mon, if you add Kevin Durant to your team everybody's scoring will go down. I was also thinking about Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan, and Mike Conley for this spot.