The 2013 All-Star starters have already been drafted by the fans. Now the coaches get to choose 7 reserves from each conference. The reserves consist of 2 backcourt players, 3 frontcourt players, and 2 wild cards (from any position). The reserves will be announced Thursday (January 24th, 2013). These are my picks for the reserves:
Backcourt: Kyrie Irving and Deron Williams
The Eastern Conference backcourt is not gaining much interest because of the loss of Derrick Rose, but hopefully that isn’t the case next year. Kyrie Irving is having a fantastic sophomore season and has blossomed into a premiere player in this year and an elite point guard. Jrue Holiday is definitely deserving of an All-Star look but Deron Williams is still a top 10 point guard in the league and despite an average year, I will still take Deron Williams over the majority of the point guards in the NBA any day.
Frontcourt: Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler, and Paul Pierce
There will be a lot of defense in the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler and the defensive minded Joakim Noah, who honestly should have been an All-Star last year over Roy Hibbert. Joakim Noah has been the heart of the Chicago Bulls for some time now and with the injury of their MVP, Derrick Rose, he has often been their best player. Joakim is the best passing big man in the NBA, averaging just under 5 assists a game. Tyson Chandler is the defensive anchor of the New York Knicks because whatever his teammates lack in defense he hides by not allowing much opposition scoring in the paint and as he teammates live behind the 3-point line he grabs whatever shots they miss and gives them a new position all on his own.
Paul Pierce has not had his best season this year by far but every off-season every analysts in the world of sports says the Celtics window is closing and that father time is knocking at Paul Pierce’s door but Paul Pierce has yet to answer as the savvy veteran continues to average about 19 points, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds. Despite the Celtics’ roller-coaster 2013 season no team in the Eastern Conference wants to face them 7 times in April and Paul Pierce is a big reason why.
Wildcards: Luol Deng and Paul George
Two of the best defensive small forwards in the NBA after LeBron James are Paul George and Luol Deng. Luol Deng is a 9 year veteran and the anchor of his team. This would be Deng’s 2nd All-Star appearance and it would be well deserved . With Derrick Rose out Luol Deng as stepped up as the Bulls’ go to player to give them a offensive push especially in the 4th quarter, Deng has took on that new role while still managing his own role as the 40+ minutes a night player who has to guard the opposition’s best player.
Like Deng, Paul George has had to step up due to the injury of his teams “star”, Danny Granger. Paul George really made a name for himself last year in the dunk contest and his explosive plays throughout the 2011-2012 season. Paul George is a big reason why his Indiana Pacers are statistically the best defensive team in the NBA.
Backcourt: Russell Westbrook and James Harden
I must admit I have never been a Russell Westbrook fan and I doubt I ever will because every time I watch him play I find myself screaming at the television “PASS THE BALL!” but I digress. Since the departure of James Harden, Russell has been much more productive and less erratic. It seems at times in the past that he was trying to do to much on the court to prevent Scottie Brooks having to bring James Harden from off of the bench to be the ball handler. Russell Westbrook is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body and James Harden is a point guard in a swingman’s body, so together it seemed to be a perfect fit but nevertheless apart the Thunder haven’t seemed to have lost a step and James Harden has uplifted the Rockets from just missing the playoffs to being somewhat of a contender.
Westbrook has definitely matured with his bigger role in Oklahoma City and as played like a superstar all season long. James Harden has proven that he is much more than a 6th man and can be the leader of a team. I b et these guys will be ecstatic to be teammates again.
Frontcourt: Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, and Serge Ibaka
Tim Duncan, Tim Duncan, Tim Duncan, this man should be the entire frontcourt for the Western Conference but that is not allowed, so I will give credit to others also but Timmy has been balling! This man has aged really at all but I guess you don’t need to age when you have had an old man’s game forever. He is average 18 points and 10 rebounds even though his coach is persistent on sitting him every once and awhile.
Zach Randolph has been consistent his entire career and it is a disgrace that he has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in 5 seasons but only being an All-Star once. It is only right that Zach is named an All-Star, he has been one of the most feared bigs to face in the Western Conference for the last couple years.
Serge Ibaka does not stuff the stat sheet whatsoever but his offense has improved since his previous years and opponents are scared to go into the paint solely because of the risk of their shot being block by Ibaka. Defense is not rewarded enough in this league and players like Serge Ibaka should not be put to the side because of lack of flashy numbers. What Serge does on the court speaks for itself, people need to watch him play instead of just reading his statistics.
Wildcards: Stephen Curry and Kenneth Faried
Stephen Curry is finally here people! Let’s reward him just for finally living up to his potential for a lengthy period of time. No but seriously this guy is having a damn good season, I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t have to split the ball in half with Monta Ellis anymore or if it’s just because he has matured and has been healthy but Stephen Curry is in beast mode right now. He has posted career highs in almost every statistical category but even better than that he is leading his team into contention in the Western Conference.
Kenneth Faried is very overlooked, this guy is a beast! He is the only small forward in the top 15 in rebounding (he’s 11th by averaging 9.9 rebounds). He is a Ben Wallace/Dennis Rodman type of player, meaning he’ll almost give a limb for a rebound. He gives his all on every play, every night, and he deserves praise for that and an All-Star game appearance would be just. The Denver Nuggets roster is filled with grind-it-out players, nothing flashy about them but for them to be 25-18 and contenders in the Western Conference they deserve to be represented in the All-Star game and who better to represent them than Faried?