So, today is the last day of all-star fan voting and I thought I might as well discuss my final ballot (it has changed over the weeks many times). It’s always a fun exercise to decide who should start and who shouldn’t.
Before I get started, understand that this is my actual ballot. Therefore, I will not be telling you who I “think” should start. The difference, I won’t be telling you Pau should start at center in place of Yao because that wasn’t an option on my ballot. Also, I was not voting by specific position and instead used the ballot as given. Therefore, I didn’t pick a PG simply to pick a PG. If I had felt two SGs should start, then that’s what I would have done. Just so happens it didn’t turn out that way.
In parenthesis will be those whom I considered most for that spot and came up just short.
Western Conference Starters
- Guards: Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant (Manu Ginobli, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Monta Ellis)- Like the entire West, this was a really tough call. A few weeks ago, I would have had Manu in ahead of Paul. However, if you haven’t noticed, the Hornets have been streaking as of late and are now 29-16. Considering the team success + the fact that Paul has been leading the league for most of the year in PER, he had to be taken. Kobe, on the other hand, did not have to be taken. His PER is ahead of the rest of the candidates and his team is also better…except for one. I have a VERY hard time seeing the best team not have a starter. I went back and forth on whether or not I should include Manu ahead of Kobe for the sole fact that the Spurs have easily been the best team, and the best team deserves a starter. That said, this is an individual award and the Lakers are close enough that I could take Kobe without feeling to bad
- Fowards: Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin (Pau Gasol, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge , Dirk Nowitzki)– One of the toughest calls I can remember. Kevin Durant was the easy choice. Leads the league in scoring and is on a winning team. Dirk WOULD have been another very easy choice considering his team was absolutely killing it while he was a top 5 PER and one of the highest TS% I’ve ever seen for a volume scoring, jump-shooter. However, Dirk’s injury has caused me to move him out of the starting group. So, it comes down to Blake Griffin and Pau Gasol. Obviously, Pau’s team is a better team. But, something has to be said for Griffin and the way the Clippers have been playing. More impressive is the fact that Griffin has revived the corpse of Baron Davis and caused DeAndre Jordan to be a must re-sign for the Clippers this offseason. Statistically, he’s almost dead even with Pau in advanced stats. His PER, APER, and Win Score are dead even. However, Blake has a much higher usage and that is important to me. It tells me Blake has more weight put on his shoulders and has to do more for his team. Finally, it’s the individual games that stand out. Twice he’s gone for 45+. That means something. That said, I’d have no problems with Pau Gasol getting the nod. If by the time the all-star game rolls around and the Clippers are very close to .500, EVERYONE will be clamoring for Blake to have been a starter. If by the tie the game rolls around and the Clippers are 15 games under, then I’ll look like an idiot.
- Center: Tyson Chandler (Nene)- Yea, the field sucked. I went with Chandler because of the difference he’s made on that Mavericks team, turning them into a really good defensive team for the first time since Dirk has been there. He isn’t worthy of a start, but it’s the best the West has to offer. Ultimately, I suspect Pau will start at center, but that isn’t an option on the ballot.
Eastern Conference Starters
- Guards: Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade (Rajon Rondo)- Pretty easy calls here. Wade was a no-brainer. Top 5 all year in PER and on one of the best teams in the league. Rose was a little tougher, but this recent run the Bulls have been on while playing so many games w/o either Noah and/or Boozer put Rose ahead of Rondo for me. The Bulls are legit contenders and that is without actually seeing them totally healthy but for a few games this season. It’s almost exclusively because of Derrick Rose.
- Forwards: LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire (Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh)- Again, fairly easy choices. LeBron James, like Wade, was a no-brainer. He now leads the league in PER and has had some silly statistical games. Stoudemire WAS an easy choice, but with the recent suckage of the Knicks, it’s become slightly closer. However, he is still far and away a better statistical player than either Garnett or Bosh have been, and the Knicks are still an above .500 team mostly because of Amare. Not to tough in my opinion
- Center: Dwight Howard (none)- Easiest choice of the bunch. Early in the season, I thought Noah might have a legit case, but then he got hurt. Had he not gotten hurt, it still wouldn’t have mattered. Howard is my mid-season MVP and he’s been playing even better since I made that proclamation a week or so ago.