The deadline for voting for the NBA All-Star game is in a few days. Nobody is going to make a monumental jump into the contention in the next four days, so I’m ready to cast my ballot now. I refuse to be restricted by the NBA brass to just voting for five players, that’s communist and easy. No, I want the whole shebang, bench and all. That’s where you have to make the critical
decisions, and you have to take a look at a lot more than just the top five scorers from every night. This is where the details come out and you have to look outside Miami, Boston and Orlando, although, in the top heavy Eastern Conference, that is hard to do. Looking at the rosters of those three teams alone you can fill out half the Eastern rosters, with a little help from New York (which is still strange to say again) and Atlanta. Does this mean that nobody else in the Conference is doing anything? Not exactly, however there is a clear divide in effectiveness from the cream of the crop towards the middle, if there even is one.
F: LeBron James: 25.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 7.2 APG
F: Amare Stoudemire: 26.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.4 BPG
C: Dwight Howard: 22.0 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 2.2 BPG
G: Dwayne Wade: 25.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.2 APG
G: Derrick Rose: 24.7 PPG, 8.0 APG, 4.7 APG,
Four of the five Eastern starters work themselves out pretty easily. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have found their combined stride, and have began to turn the Heat into what they were envisioned to be, while still putting up their usual numbers. In Orlando, Dwight Howard is still the top terror in the paint in the NBA, and has even added a scoring touch this season that hasn’t been there before for the rebuilt Magic. Amare Stoudemire has brought the Knicks back from oblivion, and has been one of the premier scorers in the NBA. The only debate that holds some weight is at the other guard spot, where I give Derrick Rose the nod over Rajon Rondo. I make this call on the fact that while Rondo is the league’s leading assist man and the glue of the East’s best team, Rose is the entire world to the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics have shown they can keep going even with Rondo down, albeit not as smoothly. However, seemingly every night it comes down to Rose’s performance that makes the difference for the Bulls, and he is raising his game to a nearly un-guardable level this year.
Rajon Rondo (PG): 10.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 13.4 APG
Joe Johnson (G/F): 19.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.6 APG
Paul Pierce (SF): 19.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.5 APG
Danny Granger (F): 21.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.8 APG
Kevin Garnett (PF): 15.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 0.7 BPG
Al Horford (C): 16.2 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.1
Andrew Bogut (C): 13.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.8 BP
On the bench, there are a few guys that have spots on reserve here, outside of Rondo. Paul Pierce is a yearly lock, and has done nothing to change that this season. Joe Johnson’s all-around game is lands him my vote again, and stands out amongst a shallow backcourt pool in the East. Danny Granger gets the nod as one of the most quiet, yet consistent producers in the NBA once again. He’d be a big time star if he played in one of the more televised NBA destinations, but the Pacers are coming along behind his top shelf play. They take the nod over other swingmen such as Wilson Chandler, Josh Smith and Gerald Wallace, as well as backcourt contributors Raymond Felton and Ray Allen, who are having great seasons as well.
However, the front court spots are a bit tougher to separate, as there is a tight group of players that are nearly equally eligible. The space in-between Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Andrew Bogut and Al Horford is tough to separate. Garnett, around his usual set of injuries, is still the toughest frontcourt player in the league and is nearly averaging a double-double for the C’s still, despite a fall off in shot blocking. Bosh has taken a while to find his niche in Miami, but is still putting up numbers superior to most any other Eastern forward or center not named Stoudemire or Howard. Bogut is once again in the league’s elite in boards and blocks, and snatched 27 rebounds earlier this month versus the Heat. In Atlanta, the always just under the radar Horford is the axis that the Hawks work around on both ends of the floor, and is shooting closer to 60 percent than 50 for the season.
In the end, I’m going with Bogut, Horford and Garnett from this group, as they each have a more distinguishing role for their clubs and impact in their success. Horford and Garnett are the easier picks, due their status amongst top tier clubs and being big contributors on them. Taking Bogut over Bosh breaks down simply to the fact that he puts up numbers on a team that’s surrounded him with nothing else to make that load easier on him. Plus he’ll be able to go to war with the West’s Kevin Love for anything that comes off the rim. This just proves that being a big talent on a successful team is the only route to recognition in my book (word to Monta Ellis and Tyreke Evans in that regard as well out west).
Tomorrow, I’ll be back with the Left Coast.