The All-Star Reserve players were announced today, as voted on by coaches around the league. I predicted 5 out of 7 correctly for each conference in this piece and the snubs were covered here by Soaring Down South featured columnist Brad Rowland.
First the Western Conference Reserves: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Zach Randolph, David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan.
I don’t see any problem with any selection other than LaMarcus Aldridge, who is currently shooting a Josh Smith-like .468 eFG% without the defensive exploits. Also, with Portland on the outside of the playoff picture currently, there is no justification for his being on the team.
The Spurs are sending two representatives because of the dynasty they helped build, as well as their strong play in limited minutes this season. Westbrook and Harden were among the easiest and most predictable selections of the night. However, I believe both Memphis and Golden State had the wrong players selected. Stephen Curry was the biggest snub between either conference, especially according to Charles Barkley and Marc Jackson on Twitter. Marc Gasol should have also made the team solely because of his defensive exploits, but the choice of Randolph’s is sexier because of his backstory and greater involvement in the offense.
In the Eastern Conference, the process went fairly smoothly. Paul Pierce is a familiar name to All-Star rosters but was denied from joining teammates Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett this year. His scoring and assists are down from last year and age may be becoming an issue in his production.
The list that made the team are as follows: Jrue Holiday, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh
Kyrie Irving is defintely having a fantastic season, scoring almost 24 points per game as a 20 year old. I didn’t think the coaches would pick him because of the Cavaliers’ poor record but alas his production is certainly outstanding. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Kyrie Irving is the 6th youngest player selected to an All-Star team. The only players chosen at a younger age were Isiah Thomas, Kevin Garnett, Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. That is quite the company.
Defense was recognized in a big way with the selections of Tyson Chandler, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Brook Lopez was also snubbed, despite his phenomenal scoring, possibly for the larger emphasis on defense. However, he has been the best player on a Brooklyn Nets team in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference. He trails only Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul in PER, putting him ahead of any reserve listed above.
Rightfully the roster is free of Al Horford and Josh Smith. They are both leading a Hawks team in the wake of the Joe Johnson exit but frankly their performance has not been better than those above. There is still a chance an injury opens the door to their inclusion in the weeks ahead, but I would imagine Brook Lopez would be first in line for that opportunity.