Who Should Be Playing Tonight: The NBA All-Star Game

When the All-Star lineups were announced a couple weeks back, I found I had surprisingly little to complain about. I had no beef with Iverson starting because a) He’s one of the most exciting athletes of his generation and b) If you have a problem with democracy, you can go to North Korea. There’s been some speculation as to whether Iverson ended up missing the trip because his daughter is sick (the reason he gave) or because of the bad press his selection aroused. If the latter is the case, then that’s sad, and another reason I hate sportswriters sometimes (WHY WOULD YOU DIRECT YOUR CRITICISMS AT HIM? HE DIDN’T DEMAND TO BE SELECTED. YOU’RE MAD THAT FANS LIKE HIM?! WHO CARES?! Okay. Moving on.) Derrick Rose, beyond the box-score, is thus far having a bit of a disappointing season, but that can probably be chalked up to an injury-plagued start, and guard play in the East has been uncharacteristically weak this year anyway. Josh Smith’s “snub” caused quite a fervor, but no one could come to an agreement on whom he should replace. It would have to be one of the East’s 3 reserve forwards, but Paul Pierce hasn’t dropped off (he’s actually scoring at a far more efficient rate than ever before), Gerald Wallace is having an incredible all-around season and is really as valuable to his team as any other player in the league, and Chris Bosh is having a career year across the board.

In the West, Billups and Kidd were deserving choices to replace Kobe and Chris Paul, though why a team would need 3 point guards to back up Steve Nash is a mystery to me. But then they screwed it all up by picking Chris Kaman to fill in for Brandon Roy. Marc Gasol is top-5 in the NBA in both Offensive Rating and True Shooting % and has 3 times as many Win Shares as Kaman this season. Unfortunately, much of Gasol’s contribution appears to be getting attributed to Zach Randolph’s recently bloated reputation. Z-Bo’s made strides this year, I’m not going to argue with that, but is he really an All-Star over Carlos Boozer? Boozer’s already made 2 All-Star rosters and, by Basketball Reference’s metrics, he’s posting career bests in scoring efficiency and defensive rating. I suspect if the coaches were making their picks today, rather than a few weeks ago, Boozer would edge Randolph. It was probably close in the first place, and Utah has won 13 of their last 15 contests while the Grizz have won just 1 in 7.

Ultimately, my complaints about who’s suiting up tonight are nitpicky if anything. The vast majority of the selections I’m behind 100%. I think the coaches really got it right this year, which is an all likelihood a function of them and the blogging/hardcore fan community coming closer to consensus on the type of data we should use to rate players. So now that that’s out of the way, my predictions for tonight:

Winner: East
Or West. I don’t really know. Stan Van Gundy’s kind of crazy, so I think he’ll want to win this more than the coach usually does. I hope the roster has tuned him out by halftime and lets LeBron decide on substitutions.

MVP: LeBron James
With Kobe sitting, he’s the unquestioned center of attention. I say he rises to the occasion.

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2 Responses to Who Should Be Playing Tonight: The NBA All-Star Game

  1. thecornerthree says:

    Kobe predicted Dirk as MVP and I am going to have to agree…at least as long as the West wins. If the East wins, I am predict Rondo the winner. Just sayin’. And as far as Josh Smith, he could replace Derrick Rose, Paul Pierce, and maybe even Joe Johnson. And seeing as there are wildcards, the roster could have been arranged to inlcude J-Smoove and dismiss any of the three I just named. IMO!!!

    • slickmilicic says:

      Good point, the bench didn’t technically need to be position-balanced. But if Smith took Johnson or Rose’s spot, the East would have had just 1 guard on the bench (since Rose/Johnson/Rondo needed to be in the starting lineup to fill in for Iverson). I just don’t think that would make sense. If you want Smith in ahead of Pierce, I guess that’s a matter of preference.

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