Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
So the starters have already been selected, but I'm gonna go ahead and take the liberty of making my own All-Star picks...ones that will not feature Dwight Howard. Check back tomorrow for my Eastern Conference picks.
Duncan should be All-Star starter because of all the 'duhs' involved
Clearly I don't have a vote in this, but I am here to share with you who I'd send to Houston for February's NBA All-Star Game if I had the ability to summon players and request they play specifically for my entertainment. It would be awesome.
In case you haven't been paying attention or just simply don't care about a super-cool game that literally doesn't matter at all, the rulers of the sacred NBA ballot blessed the likes of Tim Duncan by removing the center position from the voting process. (I guess whether or not it's a blessing for Duncan depends on if he actually wants to be there, meh. Not to mention the voting's already over and it looks like Dwight will start, assuming he's healthy enough to do so.) Instead, players were selected from two backcourt and three frontcourt players to fill out the starting lineups. The same rule applies for the reserves, on top of two wild-card selections, but fans don't get to pick those.
OK, onward to my meaningless All-Star selections. Bring your commentary at me as you see fit. I'll have Eastern Conference picks tomorrow. The rosters will be announced on TNT tomorrow night.
(Disclaimer: If you argue that Howard HAS to be on the team I'd have no problem with the sentiment. As bad as the Lakers have been, he's still putting up decent numbers. But Dwight should get nearly 18 points per game -- his season average -- in his sleep. It's been a down year for the big man due to injuries and whatever, and I just can't give a sub-.500, currently out-of-the-playoffs team two All-Star berths.)
Chris Paul -- 16.8 ppg, 9.7 apg, 2.6 spg, 26.5 PER
I mean, duh. I feel like I need to come clean with this, first of all. I have been someone who, over the course of the past couple of years, has been one of these guys who would vehemently argue for Deron Williams as the NBA's best point guard. BREAKING NEWS: I'm dumb. I lost track of my NFL playoff pick record -- conveniently, I might add -- on top of picking the Dallas Mavericks to finish sixth in the West at the start of the season (I haven't given up on that, by the way). But, to be fair, this opinion of Paul was a change of heart from the way I felt after the Spurs - Hornets playoff series back in the day. I don't know what changed my mind along the way, but I'm thinking clearly once again. At least, clearer. Paul leads the West in assists and is tops in the league in steals, not to mention he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 4.5 and leads the way for the team with the second-best record in the league. Chris Paul is the best all-around point guard in the league and I'm sorry I ever said otherwise.
Kobe Bryant -- 29.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 24.7 PER
Kobe Bryant is just Kobe Bryant-ing all over people's faces this season. He's Kobe-ing even more than usual while the rest of the team Paus and Dwights itself to death while D'Antoni watches and makes faces, also known as D'Antoni-ing. At the age of 34, Kobe is averaging 29.8 points per game on nearly 48 percent shooting. He's doing that thing where he tries to take games over and takes 49 shots per game, but he's making them. It's not often I feel sorry for the guy, but for some reason I legitimately feel bad for Kobe Bryant right now. However, when the Lakers sneak into the playoffs or make some sort of surge back into relevancy in the standings, I reserve the right to feel differently. Plus, Pringles Man told his team the season started on Sunday night. That should help.
Kevin Durant -- 28.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, .652 TS%, 28.6 PER
There is literally nothing to explain. He's good at the scoring part of basketball and basically everything else. He's tall and he's apparently mean now and he scares the S*** out of me and Oklahoma City is the best team in the NBA. Leave me alone.
Blake Griffin -- 17.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3.2 apg, 22.6 PER
I wrestled with this one more than I probably should have, but with what the Clippers have accomplished this season it's difficult to make an argument for anyone other than Blake. I've never put this guy in the elite category many seem to, but there's no question he's improving. He still shoots free throws like a drunk, three-fingered shot-putter, though much less so than last year when he shot 52 percent from the line. His scoring and rebounding numbers are actually down this year, but he's playing nearly five fewer minutes per night on a team with a ton of depth and seemingly endless options in the offense. He's also averaging 1.5 steals per game, which nearly doubles his previous career average. Anyway, he's good and he dunks in a really nasty way all the time. He epitomizes an All-Star Gamer.
Tim Duncan -- 17.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 24.3 PER, 100 percent awesome
We've spent the entire season talking about Duncan's resurgence, and despite a recent offensive lull nothing has changed. He's doing it all. His line the other night (12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, seven blocks, three steals) epitomized the level of play Duncan is currently exhibiting on a nightly basis. That was only the second time in his career he's gotten at least seven blocks and three steals in a game. Wild. Anyway, I'm not sure we'll find anyone here that would argue the legitimacy of this pick. If we do, then they must be a witch.
Russell Westbrook -- 21.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 8.4 apg, 2.1 spg, 22.9 PER
Maddening in both his inefficiency and ruthless killer-ness on any given night, Russ is without a doubt officially a superstar. With no Harden in the fold, his responsibilities have grown significantly, especially as a full-time facilitator. He doesn't have nearly as many possessions where he gets to be primarily an off-guard, and if he keeps up this pace he'll set a career high in assists. He's also averaging a career high in rebounds, steals and three-point shooting percentage. If the three-point shooting thing continues to improve, then just, I dunno, this...
James Harden -- 26.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.9 spg, .605 TS%, 23.3 PER
His new role as a max-contract, face-of-the-franchise player is nowhere close to being above his head. This guy is so, so good. He's averaging 26.5 points per game and set a franchise record with 14 consecutive games over 25 points scored. If you think he isn't worth that contract, shut up. Now. And go to your room. Also, he plays for Houston, so it's another 'duh.'
David Lee -- 19.9 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, 20.4 PER
This is so crazy tricky. There are so many frontcourt players deserving of an appearance in this game, but if there's ever been a year David Lee deserves to play in it it's this season. The Warriors are fifth in the West right now and it's not a fluke. At least one player from Golden State needs to be in Houston, but I've decided to send two, starting with Lee.
LaMarcus Aldridge -- 20.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 19.4 PER
Portland is currently a playoff team. How about that? A lot of it has to do with the phenomenal rookie point guard Damian Lilliard, but this team goes nowhere when Aldridge isn't on the floor. He might be the most offensively skilled big man in the West right now from a scoring perspective, especially with Dirk still rounding into form. Despite his shooting percentage being down a bit this year, he's still putting up the type of averages we're used to seeing.
Marc Gasol -- 13.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.9 bpg, 19.2 PER
He doesn't put up the offensive numbers of Zach Randolph, but Marc Gasol is what makes that grindhouse operate in Memphis. He's such a good passer for as big and lumbering as he is, and his agility and skill belies his gigantic-ness. On top of the nearly two blocks a game he gives you, we're probably talking about Memphis' most important player.
Tony is on pace to do what only one other player in league history has done, and that's go an entire year averaging at least 19 points per game, seven assists per game, 50 percent shooting, 40 percent from the three-point line and 80 percent from the charity stripe. The only other player to do so? Larry Bird. Plus, Parker runs the show for the team with the league's third best record, a team that has, up to this point, played more games than anyone else.
Stephen Curry -- 20.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.6 apg, 3.1 3PTM, 46.1 3PT%, 19.2 PER
There are some insanely entertaining young point guards to watch in this league right now, and Steph is right at the top of the list. While he's not the traditional point guard and really thrives off the ball, he has been instrumental in the Dubs' success this season and has grown into a more than serviceable facilitator. But his strength lies firmly in that buttery jumper. There might not be a more talented perimeter shooter currently in the league, and he can shoot from anywhere and any position. As long as those porcelain ankles don't come back to haunt him this team will be no easy out come postseason play.
Suffering from a severe case of the snubs
Twelve roster spots is not enough.
(The preceding was completely subjective and quite possibly idiotic, but really we're just having fun here guys. We all know Dwight is going to start this game, which, ya know, isn't the worst thing in the world. Eastern Conference coming up tomorrow.)