Feb 3, 2011, 8:11 PM EDT
David Stern has some work to do out West.
The coaches’ selections for the seven All-Star Game reserves for each conference came out and the East went pretty much to form. Now David Stern gets to add one player to that list and he has some pretty clear choices.
The Western Conference? That’s hard. You can make a good case for all seven guys the coaches went with — even rookie Blake Griffin — but you can also make a great case for seven more. Stern gets to choose two out West, his regular pick plus someone to replace the injured Yao Ming. But the call is still brutal.
Here are the reserves and who got left out for the Feb. 20 game:
Western Conference reserves:
Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers, forward): Fans should have voted him in as a starter over Carmelo Anthony. But since the game is in L.A., smart money says coach Gregg Popovich makes him the starting center in the West.
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks, forward): No-brainer pick. Averaging 23.2 points per game to lead a good Dallas squad — dude’s a 7-footer shooting 41 percent from three. One of the best scorers in the game.
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs, forward): Is this a lifetime achievement award? Maybe he is scoring less, but the man is the anchor on defense, grabs the rebounds and gets key buckets for the league’s best team. He’s Tim Duncan! You can’t keep him out of the All-Star Game. He could start at center, too.
Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers, forward): Averaging 23 points 12.7 rebounds a game as a rookie, he is more than just dunk highlights. He has maybe the quickest spin move from the post in the game. Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he voted for him because he’s the best athlete in the NBA right now. Plus, it’s a show. You want him there in Los Angeles.
Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs, guard): The best player and leading scorer on the best team in the league. Had to be on the team.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder, guard): When Kevin Durant was off at the start of the season, Westbrook took on more and has all season. Averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 assists per game. He deserves this.
Deron Williams (Utah Jazz, guard): Debate amongst yourselves whether he is the best or second-best or third-best point guard in the game, but he is certainly an All-Star. Must be on the squad.
Guys who got screwed over/Guys Stern to choose from in the West:
• Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves forward) is a double-double machine and the best rebounder in the game. How do you leave off a guy with his numbers?
• LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers forward) has stepped up for a banged-up team, has been good all season and had a huge game Wednesday night to make his case.
• Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies forward) can get overlooked, but he’s averaging 20 points and 13.2 rebounds a game.
• Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers forward) is having a career year.
• Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns guard), while the team around him has crumbled, Nash continues to play fantastic ball and remains one of the best point guards in the game.
• Monta Ellis (Golden State guard) is one of the best pure scorers in the game, averaging 25.2 points per contest.
• Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs guard) has taken on more responsibility in the offense for the best team in the league.
Eastern Conference reserves:
Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks, center): He’s averaging 16 points a game and is shooting 57 percent, plus he’s dishing out assists at a career best rate. He’s getting better every season and is clearly the second best center in the East easy. This is his second All-Star game.
Chris Bosh (Miami Heat, forward): Averaging 18.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and is more important to the Heat’s success than people realize. Well, until he got injured. (Actually, that may have proved his importance even more.)
Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics, forward): This is 14 All-Star games in a row, and as soul of the best team in the East he had to be there.
Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics, forward): Scoring 19 points a game to lead the Celtics. He’s still one of the game’s elite forwards.
Ray Allen (Boston Celtics, guard): Prettiest jump shot in the game and this will be All-Star Game No. 10.
Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics, guard): He’s the reason all those other Celtics look good, averaging 12.5 assists per game to lead the league.
Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks, forward): We tend to look past the Hawks, thinking we know what they are. But what they are is good (31-18). Johnson is averaging 20-5-5 to lead them.
Who got screwed in the East:
• Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls forward) missed the start of the season because of a hand injury, but he has been scoring as expected and playing the best defense of his career in Chicago.
• Raymond Felton (New York Knicks guard) may get people in the Big Apple saying he deserves it — and he has been good, just not better than any of the people above him.
• Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks forward), sorry, but I think you only get one Hawk in, and if you wanted to swap him in I wouldn’t complain. But frankly Johnson is the better player.
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