Team Dwight- Hometown guy (for now).
Team Rose- Reigning MVP.
Even though we’re going to the captain-playground ball format, I will still list who I would include under the old East v West format.
Point- Derrick Rose. Is there any argument? The reigning MVP and his team has the best record in the conference.
Wing- Dwyane Wade. Was there a typo on your birth certificate?... He’s been a little hurt so far, but you can’t find a better two-guard in the conference.
Wing- Lebron James. Making a strong case for his 3rd MVP award. He worked out with Hakeem over the summer to improve his post game. I don’t know what Hakeem taught him, but I like seeing him down on the block dominating opponents. Side note: my boy Bill Simmons made this point, why do guys go to Hakeem to improve their post game? Hakeem was a freak, he can’t teach players 10% of the things that he did on the court. Kevin McHale is one of niftiest post players ever (with the athleticism of a slimmed down Brian Scalabrini) and he had at least 8 different moves down on the block, why not go to Kevin?
Big- Bosh Spice. Oh how opinions change. After the 2010 All-Star game in Cowboy Stadium I called Chris Bosh the best PF in the game. During last season I was one of the many people calling the Heat triumvirate “The Big Two and a Half.” His performance this year has quelled that talk, at least for me. His numbers may never approach Toronto levels (24 and 10 with a block a game while shooting 50% from the field), but his performance for the Heat this year has been stellar with or without D Wade in the lineup.
Big- Dwight Howard. No need to expand on this one.
Point- Deron Williams. My favorite NBA player. It’s tough watching him waste away one of his prime years on that joke of a team in New Jersey. That is why he is averaging a career high 4.5 turnovers per game and shooting a career low 40% from the field. Normally I wouldn’t include such an underperformance, but the Eastern Conference’s talent pool depth is pretty shallow. Plus- he’d be the only pass-first point guard on the team, those are critical for AS games.
Point- Brandon Jennings. See what I mean? This guy was made for AS games anyway, he will definitely be gunning for MVP if he gets in.
Wing- Joe Johnson. The 120 Million Dollar Man. He gets respect for keeping the Hawks in the upper tiers of the conference without Al Horford.
Wing- Andre Iguodala. The best defender on the best defensive team in the league. Being at the top of the Atlantic doesn’t hurt either.
Wing- Paul Pierce. If you watch basketball you know he’s the reason why the Celtics are back where everyone expected them to be this season. His shooting percentage is slightly down but he is still the leader of that team. When Rondo went down Pierce stepped up and hasn’t had a game of less than 6 assists since January 20th. True baller.
Big- Josh Smith. One of the few guys who can fit into both the wing and big positions, but for the purpose of this exercise we’ll define him as a big. He, along with Joe Johnson, are keeping the Hawks afloat. Always one of the best defenders in the game, this year he is averaging over two blocks a game and 1.3 steals a game. It’s about time he got to go to the AS Game.
Big- Roy Hibbert. Did I say that I LOVE the Pacers already? Why the Pacers didn’t lock him up before the deadline to sign 2008 drafts picks is beyond me. 7-footers who can rebound, score and defend are hard to find in today’s NBA.
Rajon Rondo. Being hurt doesn’t help one’s AS chances.
Kyrie Irving. I gotta admit. I didn’t know how good this kid was coming out of Duke. When you played a grand total of 11 games in college it’s reasonable to be hesitant on believing in one’s NBA potential.
Luol Deng. Always logs heavy minutes for the Bulls and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Pure class every time he steps on the court.
Greg Monroe. One of my favorite young players and someone to look out for in the future. In my version of the AS game, a team with 6 wins heading into the second week of February gets no AS love. Even if that team has a big man averaging 16 and 10 with 1.5 steals a game while shooting .520. Cannot do it. Will not do it. Can’t play with him.
Danny Granger. If he wasn’t shooting .377 he’d be a lock for the AS squad.
Point- Chris Paul. No discussion here. My pick for MVP right now. They’re on their way to becoming a top four seed in the west because of Paul.
Wing- Kobe Bryant. Again, no discussion. Maybe he has estranged his big men, but he hasn’t estranged his game.
Wing- Kevin Durant. Moving on…
Big- Kevin Love. The NBA’s Great White Hope. The difference between Kevin Love and Tim Tebow is that Kevin Love is a top flight player in his sport. Fourth in points per game, second in rebounds, first in double doubles.
Big- LaMarcus Aldridge. Watch a Blazer game from two years ago and watch a Blazer game from two nights ago, the difference in Aldridge’s approach to the game is amazing. A true big man who can also step out to 20 feet and hit that jumper on the regular. But he doesn’t settle for 20 footers like KG does nowadays, he plays with his back to the basket, hits turnaround jumpers and passes well from the post. Because of Dirk’s troubles this year, the Best PF in the Game belt is up for grabs right now, Aldridge can claim it if he dominates this AS game.
Point- Russell Westbrook. For a guy who never played the point before being drafted to the Thunder, Westbrook has done pretty well. But that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t move over to off-guard and play like Monta Ellis/Dwyane Wade. Still, a no-doubt-about-it AS who runs the squad with the best record in the league.
Point- Tony Parker. San Antonio’s best player went down early in the season, or so we thought. We forget that Parker has a NBA Finals MVP under his belt. The Spurs are 18-9 right now despite not having Manu for the majority of the season, and their point man is a good reason why.
Point- Steve Nash. Hey Mr. Nash, you’re 38 years old. How are you still leading the league in assists when passing the ball to Jared Dudley and Hakim Warrick? If you’re wondering if there are too many point guards in my AS picks, don’t worry. You can never have too many point guards in an AS game. Westbrook is technically a PG, but we all know practically he is not a PG.
Wing- James Harden. The sixth man of the year and the owner of the best beard in the NBA. He gets bonus points for his efficient play and for being on the best team in the league.
Wing- Rudy Gay. The team has struggled to stay above .500 without First Name 20 Last Name 10 (aka Zach Randolph) but don’t blame Rudy.
Big- Blake Griffin. In Blake’s world gravity doesn’t exist. The SportsCenter culture has hyped him up a little too much; he still gets lost on defense from time to time. But 20-10 is hard to argue with. Lob City represent!
Big- Andrew Bynum. Every year we ask when this kid is gonna put it all together. So far this year, he’s been doing just that. Career highs in points and rebounds per game thus far. Bynum has been healthy since serving his four game suspension for on court assault during the playoffs last year. Although we don’t know how long it will last, he should be rewarded for this great season.
Danilo Gallinari. If he didn’t go down a couple days ago he was a lock. The Nuggets new go-to-guy showed why he was picked 6th in that deep 2008 draft class. It is unfortunate that he went down so close to AS Weekend.
Monta Ellis. One of the most talented guys in the league playing for a team that doesn’t know how to win.
Kyle Lowry. The early favorite for Most Improved Player of the Year.
Ricky Rubio. I really wanted to get Rubio in this game if only for the 5-6 ridiculously exciting plays he would make.
Al Jefferson. Big Al doesn’t get enough respect for what he brings to the table. There are only a handful of big men in the league who command double teams, AJ is definitely one of them.
Dirk Nowitzki. I was trying really hard to get him on this team. If any of the reserves get hurt he’ll be the first choice. Don’t forget that he was the best player on the floor during the finals last year.
Kudos if you managed to read through this whole thing.