Just like Prom Night, the new NBA season holds promise for a handful of youngsters to lose their (All-Star Game) virginity. At the same time, each incoming crop of first-timers means there are some ASG incumbents who will be spending that February weekend at home — or at least be restricted to hitting the clubs in whatever city All-Star takes place. A while back, Gerald Narcisco nominated some 2010 first-time All-Stars; here are the guys who stand to lose their spots when the big game goes to Dallas next year:
ALLEN IVERSON — “I mean, I’m starting on the All-Star team, but I’m coming off the bench for my regular team? (laughs)” Although he was talking about his Detroit situation, in a recent interview with ESPN, A.I. showed that he even knows the chances of him getting an All-Star nod in Memphis are slim. If Iverson really does stay in the sixth man role for the Grizzlies, will he be on the ASG ballot? And even if he is, he’s not getting a starting spot in the West over Kobe and Chris Paul. So then it would be up to the coaches to let him in, and given (1) the dearth of teams interested in Iverson this summer, hinting at how popular he is amongst decision-makers, (2) the depth of guards in the conference, and (3) the likelihood that Memphis won’t be a playoff contender, it’s looking like Iverson will miss his first All-Star Game since 1998.
JAMEER NELSON — The messed-up part is that Jameer may have missed his only opportunity to play in an ASG due to last season’s shoulder injury. His ’09 nod was one of those “Your team was better than we thought/You should have X-number of All-Stars” situations; this time he’d have to put up even better numbers (16.7 ppg, 5.4 apg) to crack the roster. And with an ASG-minded group of Eastern Conference guards led by Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Gilbert Arenas on his heels, Jameer has a daunting uphill climb.
DAVID WEST — Two years in a row I’ve watched D-West get mostly ignored on All-Star media day, then turn in a forgettable performance in the main event. The numbers will be there for him, but unless the Hornets are near the top of the Western Conference, I don’t see D-West making a return trip next year.
MO WILLIAMS — Another case of getting an All-Star nod because his team had a great record and needed a second guy; only Mo wasn’t even an original pick, going to Phoenix ’09 as an alternate. And please believe that #2 Cleveland spot is reserved for Shaq in 2010.
RASHARD LEWIS — The early-season suspension and the PED’s thing won’t hurt Raw Lew as much as the retroactive perception that he isn’t as important to the Magic as Hedo Turkoglu was; which will especially happen if the Magic start off slower than they did last season and/or the Raptors come out of the gate looking halfway decent. Not to mention Rashard has to fight off East forwards like Josh Smith, Elton Brand, Turkoglu, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, who have improved teams and improved health working in their favor.