Veteran Duncan, Six First-Time All-Stars Headline Coaches' SelectionsTim 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).
posted by David Friedman @ 7:30 AM