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Friday, January 25, 2013

Veteran Duncan, Six First-Time All-Stars Headline Coaches' Selections

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge and David Lee have been selected by the coaches as the seven Western Conference All-Star reserves, while Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Paul George, Luol Deng, Jrue Holiday and Kyrie Irving are the seven Eastern Conference All-Star reserves. Last season, five first-time All-Stars made the cut alongside perennial All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Steve Nash; this season, there are six first-time All-Stars: Harden, Chandler, Noah, George, Holiday and Irving, who is the sixth youngest player in All-Star history. After not being selected last season, Duncan is once again an All-Star, while Nowitzki is not an All-Star for the first time since 2001, Pierce is not an All-Star for the first time since 2007 and eight-time All-Star Nash is not an All-Star for the second time in the past three seasons. Bosh earned his eighth All-Star selection; media members have showered praise on Pau Gasol for the past several years but Bosh is at least as good of an all-around player as Gasol: Bosh is certainly more mobile than Gasol and Bosh is a better defender, the two players are roughly equal as rebounders (9.2 rpg career average for Gasol, 9.0 rpg career average for Bosh) and Bosh is a more productive scorer while Gasol is better passer (Bosh is obviously the superior player this season but the preceding comparison encompasses their entire careers). NBA coaches appreciate Bosh's value but media members and casual fans tend to underrate Bosh's skill set and his impact.

In 2012, the coaches chose 12 of the 14 players I picked, substituting Pierce for Rajon Rondo in the East (Rondo later joined the squad as the replacement for the injured Joe Johnson) and giving the nod to Nowitzki over Danilo Gallinari in the West. This time around, the coaches agreed with all 14 of my selections. Several of the TNT commentators objected to the omission of Stephen Curry; Curry is one of my favorite players to watch--as was his father Dell--and he is having an All-Star caliber season but he is not having a better season than any of the seven players selected as All-Star reserves. While Curry is averaging a career-high 20.9 ppg, he is also shooting a career-low .436 from the field; his three point shooting percentage (.451) is hovering right around his career average (.444), so that indicates that he is not finishing as effectively in the paint this season. There simply is not a logical way to justify putting Curry on the All-Star roster. Curry has not had a greater impact than Duncan, Randolph, Aldridge or his teammate David Lee, so Curry could not grab a wild card spot over one of those guys; focusing specifically on the guards, Westbrook is a better two way player than Curry and Parker is a bit more efficient as both a scorer and a playmaker. Perhaps one could make a case for Curry as a shooter/distributor over Harden as a driver/distributor but I give Harden a slight edge: Harden is less efficient than Curry but Harden is bigger, stronger and a more versatile defender (Curry is crafty with his hands, like his father, but he can be overpowered by bigger guards).

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:30 AM

8 comments

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8 Comments:

At Friday, January 25, 2013 10:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, what is your take on Josh Smith? In my opinion, he was snubbed again. Hawks' record is 24-18 and one Hawk should have been selected as an All-Star reserve.

 
At Friday, January 25, 2013 3:09:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I don't buy the premise that a team should automatically be granted an All-Star based on having a good record (nor do I buy the premise that a team should categorically not be granted an All-Star based on having a bad record).

Josh Smith is having a solid season that is pretty much in line with his career averages--though his turnovers are up slightly and his field goal and free throw percentages are down. It could be argued that he is an All-Star caliber player but I do not think that he is having a better season than the frontcourt players selected as All-Stars by the coaches; Chandler and Noah are definitely superior to Smith as rebounders/defenders, while Bosh is much more efficient offensively and, arguably, at least as effective defensively even though Smith generates more highlights (i.e., spectacular blocked shots).

 
At Friday, January 25, 2013 4:41:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

Pretty good picks. I wonder how you do them, though. Do you pick who you think should make the team or who you think the coaches will pick, because that could be 2 very contrasting picks?

KG probably wouldn't make the team if he wasn't voted in by the fans. Brook Lopez has to be there somewhere. He's arguably the 2nd best center in the league. Sure, Noah and Chandler can do a few more things out there, but both of them are offensively challenged, and Lopez, not known for his defense as much as Noah/Chandler, actually blocks more shots/game than both of them. Not saying that Noah/Chandler shouldn't be there, but between them and Deng/George, who are both basically just role players, though very good role players, Lopez has to be there.

And Curry has to be there as well. It's tough leaving Marc Gasol off the team as well, but Gasol probably shouldn't be there, but Curry is doing awesome, 8th in league in scoring, is the leader of his team, who is doing extremely well this season despite nobody thinking much of them before the season. He's a big PG, plays relatively decent defense, can't really say the same for Lee, though I think Lee should be there as well. Who cares if Curry's 3 pt. pct. is around his career average? He's shooting 45% which is phenomenal, while attempting 7 3's/game, while being his team's 1st option. He's easily in the game in the East, and should easily be in the game in the West, over Aldridge/Randolph for sure.

 
At Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:40:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

I selected the players who deserve to make the squad; the coaches agreed with me on 12 out of 14 choices last season and all 14 choices this time around.

I would not take Lopez over any of the bigs who actually made the cut and the coaches agree.

It does not matter if Curry might have made the East team; he plays in the West. Curry is having an All-Star caliber season but there are more players who are having such seasons than there are available slots and I already explained why I reluctantly but correctly left him off of the squad.

 
At Saturday, January 26, 2013 10:04:00 AM, Anonymous LakerFan in Jamaica said...

I wish the NBA would increase the number of players who could be selected for the All Star team. Make it like a regular NBA team with the OPTION to go to 15 players total. It seems that every year some All-Star caliber player gets left off, who it would be nice to see acknowledged. This year it was Steph Curry, last year it was LaMarcus Aldridge.

Good job on picking the 14 reserves, David.

 
At Saturday, January 26, 2013 10:40:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

LakerFan in Jamaica:

LeBron James recently expressed the same sentiment regarding expanding the All-Star roster to 15 players but I am not convinced that All-Star roster expansion is a good idea; even if the roster were expanded people would still complain that someone had been snubbed and it is hard enough to find playing time for 12 players, let alone 15.

 
At Saturday, January 26, 2013 4:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...






Marcel

A complete travesty aldrige over curry. As the wildcard pick. Nba need to let stats ride over everything. Damiam lillard Better this year than aldridge. Wildcard should of been curry in west smith in east luoel deng was a joke he wasn't having allstar year either and Josh smith carrying Team with nobody.

 
At Saturday, January 26, 2013 9:58:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Marcel:

I agree with the coaches that a top notch big man like Aldridge is more valuable than a very good point guard like Curry. Also, you have to understand that Curry was not directly competing with Aldridge; Curry was primarily competing with Westbrook, Parker and Harden.

I think that a rookie has to be truly extraordinary to earn an All-Star selection after playing barely half of a season. Lillard is the favorite for the Rookie of the Year right now but he did not quite do enough to earn an All-Star nod.

I'm not sure which Smith you wanted in the East (Josh or J.R.) but neither one is performing better than the players who were selected.

Deng is leading the league in minutes played and he is an excellent all-around player. I picked the Bulls to do better than most "experts" precisely because I understood the value of Noah and Deng, plus the value of Thibodeau's coaching.

 

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