Thank you NBA fans. You’ve officially destroyed any drama that I ever got out of the All-Star voting. Not that it really matters. Almost every year, you can bank on certain names garnering the most votes and a starting spot in the Sunday capper of the best midseason weekend in basketball. Kobe Bryant could do his whole “watch what happens when I don’t shoot, world” routine for four weeks straight, and his fans would probably declare he’s the best passer in the world and should be in the game. LeBron James could act like a train off its tracks, and keep up that weird “I’m here, but don’t ask me to do anything heroic” face he’s had on since last June, and fans would still call him the most talented player in NBA history. Blake Griffin could blow out his knee or decide to never dunk again as long as the refs continue to screw him (Watch him complain on every call. Hubie almost had a heart attack last night: “GET BACK ON D! YOU GOTTA GET BACK!”), or he could have both happen, and Quake would still be in February’s ultimate showcase.
By opening night, I could’ve named at least seven or eight of these starters. But you can’t blame me for feeling like I missed out. All I wanted was one voting race, maybe Kevin Love pushing Griffin or Rajon Rondo giving Dwyane Wade or the MVP a run for their money.
Alas, it’s not happening, and you can basically pencil in your All-Star starters right now:
Guards: Derrick Rose (1,040,210 votes), Dwyane Wade (972,015) … next highest â€“ Rondo (394,672)
Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 972,580; Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 779,945 … next highest â€“ Stoudemire (281,617)
Center: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,161,797… next highest â€“ Noah (141,683)
Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,110,379; Chris Paul (LAC) 835,026… next highest â€“ Rubio (248,423)
Forwards: Kevin Durant (OKC) 973,152; Blake Griffin (LAC) 619,913… next highest â€“ Nowitzki (354,434)
Center: Andrew Bynum (LAL) 777,365… next highest â€“ Jordan (214,883)
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, eventually the real drama will come out of who fills out the rosters. People love to complain about the fan voting â€“ they love to complain more than they love to watch the actual game it seems sometimes â€“ but it’s quite often the coaches who are the ones screwing things up. Remember Jamaal Magloire? Or Dale Davis? Or how about B.J. Armstrong? No one needs to tell Monta Ellis or LaMarcus Aldridge about this either.
If it was up to me, here’s how I would fill out the rest of the lineups:
Easy pick. The Celtics are fighting over ping-pong balls if they didn’t have the cockiest point guard in the league. Rondo’s scoring numbers are way up across the board (15 points a night), and he’s already had a few nights (Christmas Day against New York comes to mind) where he’s shown a somewhat-legit (or at least improved) jumper. Without a healthy Paul Pierce, he’s had more thrown on his plate than ever before. He’s the only thing on that roster standing between the second round and the retirement home for Boston.
He’s been the best player for Atlanta all season, and without Al Horford manning the middle, Smith has had to be consistent and do more of the dirty work. His PER is up to 20.77, partly because he’s shooting better than he ever has (51 percent) and rebounding over nine boards a game for the first time in his career. Smith has been on the edge of getting invited into the showcase for years. His problem all along? Joe Johnson was a legit All-Star, and Horford would normally get invited because of his center status. Smith was always left out because no one wanted three players from a team that hardly anyone took seriously as a contender.
The NBA’s whipping boy has been the one constant for the Heat all season. Wade has been out, LeBron has disappeared in a couple of late games. But Bosh â€“ who proved himself over and over again in the playoffs last season â€“ is putting up slightly better numbers than last year. 20 points, eight rebounds and both of his primary defensive stats (steals and blocks) are each above one per night.
He might not be having the best season for a young Eastern Conference center. I’d give that to Greg Monroe. But Hibbert has finally emerged for a Pacer team that really should be 10-3, except that they checked out after the third quarter last night in Sacramento. The former Hoya is going for 14 points, nearly 10 boards and 1.6 blocks a night on a team that miraculously has seven guys averaging double figures. The numbers aren’t eye-dropping, but he’s had a huge impact on one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league. Plus, he’s a center. That helps.