Welcome to 2014, where anyone can be an All Star! Not quite, but with so many lingering injuries, the 24 players actually heading to New Orleans will be much different than we envisioned just four months ago.
Perhaps the biggest loss is at the point guard position, where three players who are arguably top 5 PG’s will be watching from home. Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo (who actually just came back from injury) won’t be selected for the game. CP3 was just passed by Steph Curry in the fan voting, so it looks like both Western starting guards won’t have to be replaced.
On that less than exuberant note, we present the 2014 Trending Hoops NBA All-Stars. The first list below will be the players who deserve to play, the second will be the players we think fans and coaches will actually select.
The game the fans deserve:
Get ready for splash, splash, and some RIQUICKULOUS! action. Steph Curry gets his long over-due respect from fans, and the two most exciting PG’s in the NBA light it up.
Young, high scoring, hot shooting. These three guys check all the boxes. If you’ve been watching the Clips this year, you’ve seen a marked improvement in Blake Griffin’s shooting. KD is making his best ever push for MVP, his 54 over the Warriors further helps that cause. Lemarcus? He’s having the year of his life–and his ability to make the mid-range at a super-human level (as previously noted on this site), makes the Portland offense work.
Coaches select 2 guards, three front court players, and two wildcards. Here are our choices, in the same order.
Snubs: Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Eric Bledsoe.
These reserves might all have a good chance of making the Eastern starting roster. Alas, in the West, they must come off the bench.
The East starters the fans deserve:
This spinning, whirling two headed dervish is the only force on planet earth capable of balancing out CP3 and Steph Curry. Rose is explosive, Rondo is supremely skilled, with a delicious mean streak.
These three SF’s are all versions of each other this year. 25/7/5 is a typical line from all three of these guys. They can score with the best, they are explosive playmakers, and they have great all around excellence.
Snubs: Demar Derozan
A decent, if not overwhelming, collection of NBA stars.
Six months ago we all hoped this is what the line up would be (though no one expected Aldridge to be a starter over K-Love). Then Rondo had surgery. Larry Sanders went crazy (though he’s recently back and playing so terribly that Zach Lowe has stopped referring to him as LARRY SANDERS!) Rose blew his knee, and Al Horford tore his pectoral. And Russel had a second surgery. Then CP3 separated his shoulder. Now, like an avalanche, we’ve got Kobe, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez joining that list.
Here’s the All Star game we’re going to get:
Starters (from most popular on down, based on recent fan voting)
Kobe Bryant (injured)
Likely injury replacement: James Harden
Any chance of the final vote being different? Barring 207,000 more votes for Jeremy Lin; or a sudden surge for the injured CP3, this is a lock.
Any chance of the final vote being different? K-Love is 17,000 votes back from Blake (who has half a million), and Aldridge needs 100,000 more to catch up. Now these results are from January 9th, (11 days before things are finalized), so nothing’s out of the question. However, Minnesota is playing poorly, and Griffin is playing very well, so I don’t see a change coming.
Any chance of the final vote being different? The injured Derrick Rose is over 300,000 votes behind, and the deserving John Wall is even further behind. This is the surest lock of them all.
Any chance of the final vote being different? Nope. Roy Hibbert is 227,000 votes behind Carmelo Anthony, and I don’t see the Hoosier state out-voting the Big Apple anytime soon–especially with all the “Melo” Nike ads I’ve been watching lately.
I’m going to just list the injured, deserving players, and then tell you who I think will end up playing in the big easy.
Injured: Russel Westbrook, Brook Lopez, Al Horford, Eric Bledsoe (who might not have made it anyways), Chris Paul.
West Reserves: (Backcourt) Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, (Frontcourt) Lemarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, (Wild Card) Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan
Anthony Davis makes his first all star game–due to a monster first six weeks. Damian Lillard gets in, as he deserves to, but his presence is solely due to the three prominent, injured West guards. Dirk and Tim get the coaches “respect vote” and make another game.
East Reserves: (Backcourt) John Wall, Demar DeRozan, (Frontcourt) Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, (Wild Card) Jeff Teague, Paul Milsap
Jeff Teague and Paul Milsap get in over…Lance Stephenson and Aaron Afflalo, so you know pickings are getting slim. Kevin Garnett may get a coaches respect vote, and Joe Johnson’s improved play may boost him, but this is the most likely scenario we see playing out. Luol Deng gets the nod over Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond–as the Pistons have been terrible and Deng has been terribly consistent for two bad teams. Demar Derozan crashes the party, but the entire Raptors organization has been crashing the party for some time now.
Snubs: The only snubs will be players who say, “That guy got in over me?” Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond will get snub sympathy in some quarters. Jeremy Lin–who is a surprising 4th in west guard voting –ahead of James Harden–(never under estimate the power of Asian fans), will have some supporters defending his virtues. Goran Dragic, Demarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala, Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah–will all hope to get some coaches votes this year and be disappointed if they don’t.
There you have it–the 2014 All Star game. The only question: when do the playoffs start?
Tyler Dykstra is an editor for Trending Hoops
Kevin Durant picture via wikimedia commons, author Keith Allison
Stephen Curry picture via wikimedia commons, author Keith Allison
Blake Griffin picture via wikimedia commons, author Keith Allison
Dwayne Wade picture via wikimedia commons, author Keith Allison
Lebron James picture via wikimedia commons, author Eric Drost
Paul George picture via wikimedia commons, author TownePost Network