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Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 All-Star Reserve Selections Feature Veterans Nowitzki and Bosh Alongside Three Newcomers

In 2013, six of the 14 All-Star reserves were first-timers and 2012 featured five newcomers but this year there are only three new All-Stars among the coaches' selections: DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap and John Wall (Stephen Curry is the only newcomer among the 10 starters selected by the fans). Dirk Nowitzki returns to the midseason classic after a one year absence, while Tim Duncan was not tapped despite serving as the primary post presence for the San Antonio Spurs, who are tied for the second best record in the Western Conference. Nowitzki has earned 12 All-Star selections, a total exceeded by just 13 players in ABA/NBA history. Overall, the coaches agreed with 11 of my 14 All-Star reserve selections after agreeing with all 14 of my choices in 2013 and after agreeing with 12 of my 14 selections in 2012.

The 2014 Western Conference All-Star reserves are LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Damian Lillard, Tony Parker, Chris Paul and James Harden. I would have substituted Duncan for Nowitzki as a frontcourt player and David Lee for James Harden as a wild card; Duncan's impact for a winning program extends well beyond his individual numbers (though he still ranks among the league leaders in rebounding and shot blocking despite playing limited minutes), while Lee is the main frontcourt threat for Golden State, serving a more valuable all-around role than the one filled by Harden for Houston. That said, Nowitzki and Harden are both playing at an All-Star level this season, so I don't have a big problem with either choice. At least one more roster spot will probably open up in the West because starter Kobe Bryant does not plan to play, so new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select Bryant's replacement and then West Coach Scott Brooks will decide which reserve will be elevated to a starting slot.

The 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star reserves are Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, Paul Millsap, John Wall, Joakim Noah, DeMar DeRozan and Joe Johnson. I picked Lance Stephenson as a wild card instead of Noah. Stephenson has emerged as a valuable, versatile threat for the East-leading Indiana Pacers, topping the team in assists while ranking second in scoring and rebounding. Noah is an excellent player who is having another very good season and he is not a bad choice but I think that this season Stephenson is the better choice. Perhaps Stephenson's checkered history/reputation cost him some consideration.

Bosh is a popular whipping boy for some media members and some fans but he is now a nine-time All-Star, tying him on the all-time list with Hall of Famers Robert Parish, Gary Payton, Dominique Wilkins and Lenny Wilkens.

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:03 PM

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